Today, John’s gospel provides us with 2 challenging chapters to describe the climax of the teaching of Jesus to his disciples on the final night before his arrest. A particular highlight of this teaching is that the disciples will become “one” – there will no longer be any rivalry (Luke 9 v.46; 22 v.24) among them as to who would be “the greatest.” The prayer of Jesus that we read today is answered, “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” [ch.17 v.23] And so they did – after his resurrection and ascension – an example for us.
Ch. 18 today describes in detail the arrest of Jesus – and John was the disciple (almost certainly the youngest) who was an eye witness to these events and describes them in the most detail. What intrigues us is his account of our Lord’s contact with Pilate and Pilate’s reaction.
When Pilate asked, ” “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” [18 v.37] And for us – we should say – reads what he taught!
This leads Pilate to utter his final comment – [v.38] ” ‘What is truth?’ In the past we always assumed that when Pilate said, “What is truth?” it was a question, but now we think it was most probably an expression of despair – no one ever told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But we notice how Pilate accepted – in some sense – the kingship of Jesus – for the next thing he does is to go out and say to his accusers – “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” [v.39]
Luke’s’ account is interesting, obviously gained from interviewing eye-witnesses, we read, “Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” [23 v.20-20-22] But the final comment is ” … their voices prevailed.”
There are a multitude of voices that prevail today – how few are interested in what is the real “truth”!? A multitude of voices say life all originated from an endless – and timeless – series of chance happenings – and for nearly all “their voices (have) prevailed.” May our minds not be overwhelmed by the “voices” that are all around us, but read – and absorb – God’s word – the source of all truth – every day.