Bible Studies for Life
with Beth S. Bowman
Sunday, December 15
Does Absolute Truth Exist?
John 1:14-18, John 8:30-32, John 18:36-38
This lesson begins by looking at the conversation Jesus and Pilate have in John 18. This conversation is instigated because the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate in order for Him to be arrested. Pilate tells them to take Jesus and judge Him according to the Jewish law. Pilate summons Jesus and begins to question Him by asking, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers Pilate by asking if this was his question or had he heard this reference from someone else. Pilate states that it was “your own nation” that had turned him over. Pilate asks Jesus, “What have you done?” Jesus begins to teach Pilate about Himself. He tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. Pilate, still misunderstanding, asks Jesus, “Are you a king then?” Jesus responds with affirmation that He is a king, born to testify to the truth. Pilate asks the question that begins our lesson, “What is truth?”
The question, “What is truth?” is a compelling one. Since before Pilate asked it and certainly today that question is being echoed across our world. What is truth?
If you ask a high school or college student the question, “What is truth?” You may get an answer like, “Truth is a subjective, individualistic decision.” If you were to ask a successful business tycoon, you may get something like, “Truth is defined by those in powerful positions in order to control and direct the masses.” Others would answer, “Truth is the collective judgement by a group of people who share the same values and priorities.”
As Christians we define truth as, “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.” Some theologians define it simply as “the self-expression of God.” Deuteronomy 32:4 tells us about God: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (CSB). Psalm 31:5: “God of truth.” God sent His son as the truth as declared by Jesus in John 14:5, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It is only through Jesus that we can understand and know the truth.
We know that God sent Jesus as the truth. The second key passages found in John 1:14-18 explains that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus came and took up residence with us. As a baby, He began His life the same as us. He came to show us the way back to God. As we observed Him — how He taught, how He loved, how He treated others — it showed us God’s glory. The Scripture tells us He was full of grace and truth. Grace, defined as God’s unmerited favor that He would sacrifice His Son. Truth is that Jesus would show us the way out of our sin and back to God. The word truth here is aletheia, defined as “what is true in any matter under consideration.” This truth does not change with emotions. It does not veer with politics and does not lean into cultural norms. This truth is truth yesterday, today, and forever. The Jewish people only knew the law of Moses. John explained that the law of Moses was given through Moses but when Jesus came, He showed the balance of grace and truth together in fulfillment of God’s best for the world.
Truth is compelling. Have you ever been around someone who is honest? Not a person who is honest in order to hurt others, but a person who is kind and speaks truth when needed? I like those kind of people because they are easy to be around (mostly) and easy to understand. Jesus began to speak truth and it drew people to him. In our last passages in John 8, we see that Jesus has been speaking with people and “many believed in Him” (CSB). Then He encouraged the people who believed by telling them to remain in His words that they would continue to know the truth and the truth would set them free. This truth — that Jesus was God’s son — would be the backbone of freedom and joy and love and life. They would be free indeed. For people who had struggled for years in following God’s rules as defined by Moses, they now had a Savior whose power could deliver them from the penalty of sin. That’s some kind of truth!
Beth S Bowman is a conference speaker, Lifeway contract writer and member of West Carthage Church, Carthage.