“What is Truth?”
This is the pervading question of the postmodern age, but it is not a new question at all. This was in fact the very question posed by Pilate at the trial of Jesus, just over 2000 years ago.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying that I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. “What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37–38)
In my last post, I began to write about Jesus’ saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” I started with the first claim: “I am the Way.” In this post, I want to deal with the next claim “I am…the truth.” In that post I showed that when Jesus said “You know the way to the place where I am going,” the way that he was talking about was Himself, not just the path of life that they would have to travel in following Him. In the same way, when 1 John 2:20 says that “…you have an anointing from the holy One, and all of you know the truth,” it is not referring (only) to the knowledge of certain facts about God, but about the knowledge of Jesus himself who is the location and fullest expression of the Truth concerning the Father, the Very Truth himself.
The tragic irony in Pilate’s question—What is truth?—is of course that the answer was staring him in the face. Jesus is not a Truth among many, just as he is not merely a way among many. Jesus is not just a teacher who proclaimed truth. Jesus is the Truth. And for that reason he is the necessary beginning and the end (that is, the goal) of any sincere search for truth. For to know Jesus is to know the Truth, and to seek the truth is to seek Him.
Fully God and fully human
It is therefore of the utmost importance to understand exactly who and what Jesus was. The Bible reveals Jesus as both Human and Divine; the Son of Man, and the Son of God. In the words of Peter’s confession, Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (see also Martha’s confession in John 11:27) and in Thomas’ words, he is “my master and my God.” The truth that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine has been codified since the early centuries in the language of the creeds (“true God of true God. . .of one substance with the Father. . .who for us all and for our salvation. . .was made man”).
A true understanding of Jesus then is one that recognizes both his humanity and his divinity. So on the one hand Jesus is the truth about God. Jesus came to do the Father’s will on the Father’s behalf, and by so doing, to reveal the Father to us. When Phillip said to him “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8), Jesus answered:
Don’t you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work (John 14:9–10).
On the other hand, Jesus is the truth about us. Jesus did not only come to represent God to us, but also to represent us to God. In Jesus we do not only see what God is like, we see what true humanity is like. Reading a Theology text recently, I was challenged by the thought that we all too often devalue the image of God in humanity. We say for example, when speaking of a fault or a failure in somebody’s character, “well, he’s only human after all.” What we should say instead is “in that area at least, he is less than human.” The Bible tells us that humans were created very good—in God’s image and likeness—but that we fell through sin, becoming in the process something less than God’s original intent; less than human. Jesus came to reveal the Father, but he also came to restore humanity to the Father’s original intent, to be the image bearers of God who rule the planet on his behalf. The truth about Jesus is that he is fully human in a way that we ourselves can never be unless we find our identity in Him.
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. . .” (John 8:31–32)
In order to truly know Jesus, it is important to believe and confess rightly about him (the theological term for this correct belief and confession is orthodoxy). Jesus himself said, that true worshippers must worship the Father in spirit and in truth. That is to say, we do not worship God truly unless we believe and confess him as he truly is. But this is only the start. To worship the Father in truth does not only mean worshipping him truly but worshipping the Father out of our true identity in Christ, that is, in Truth. Because it is only in Christ that the Father becomes our Father.
The goal is to know Jesus, not just to know about Jesus, but we must know about Jesus in order to know him truly.
You have to know the truth in order to be set free by the Truth
This blog is called ‘Theology Matters’ because of my conviction that what we believe about God (theology) determines how we live our lives. I pray you would know, fully experience and enter into the truth of Jesus, the one who is Truth, the one who reveals his Father to us, inviting us, in him, to call his father Our Father and the one who shows us what it is to be fully human.
 Larry Hart’s Truth Aflame.