Some of the very best questions are asked, and have been asked by men of dubious character, common men, men of power, and the young. How many politicians have asked ‘Can I get your vote?’ and based on the pedigree of a man, one might ask: ‘why?’
An eight year old boy asks his father who just lost his mother to a drunk driver: ‘why?’ and no answer is sufficient to help lessen the pain of the boy and his sister being motherless.
Questions are proof of an ultimate truth, a stirred heart, and a mind that seeks relief. When God asks a question, it is not because he has a defect of knowledge, and when He asks a question, I suddenly become interested, for it is a very good thing to be arrested by God.
‘Adam, where are you?’ said the Lord God, and we most certainly know God was not curious as to Adam’s whereabouts. ‘Where are you Adam in relation to me, NOW?’ if I may extend a bit of liberty. And note the brutal honesty of the human heart: ‘I hid myself.’ Yes, the Continental Divide was made clear in the heart of Adam, that great distance creature: sin. The great gulf was eternally fixed.
The good book tells us that Christ witnessed a ‘good confession’ before Pilate, and I believe we miss a tremendous blessing by avoiding the obvious. Pilate asked the Lord Jesus: ‘What is truth?’ and in this good confession is absolute silence. Rest on this for a moment.
There is a component which will not be developed here, and that is the illegal ‘trial.’ No witnesses, no real search to get to the heart of why ‘this man’ was brought to Pilate at such a late time, and the sentencing given all under a suspicious cloud. Yet Pilate’s question is necessary, and the answer is still a bottomless well of life today.
He who is the life, the way, and the truth, answered Pilate not a word, so much so, that Pilate ‘marvelled.’ This man calmed the raging waves of a troubled sea, and his disciples asked: ‘what manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ When the Lord asked his own, ‘Whom do men say that I am?’ they answered, ‘John or other prophets.’ He then asked further, ‘But whom say YE that I am?’
But Pilate’s heart was not tender. He did not wonder ‘what manner of man is this.’ He had an opinion from others, but he PERSONALLY had no spiritual interest in this One before him.’ Did not the scripture say that the Messiah would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep dumb before the shearers, so he opened not his mouth?’
Indeed, here was a man whose food was the word of God, breathing every breath as the breath of God, no variableness nor shadow or turning; this ‘silence’ before Pilate was necessary in this good confession.
The deaf hear music in their own language, and communication of spiritual truth is from faith to faith, but Pontius Pilate was a contemporary of Herod, and these men were not willing to partake of the grace of God. They had ears yet heard not, and the thought never crossed his mind as to why his question was not met with an answer.
(This silence is also helpful when we ask of God about this or that; perhaps we ask amiss, or ask with minds made up already, asking God to bless what we have decided. Sounds a little treasonous, but the God of all grace bears with us as a Father bears with a wayward child.)
‘What is truth?’ asks Pilate, and the Lord could ask in return but refrains: ‘The truth about creation? The truth about sin? The truth about redemption? The truth about the covenants, the promises, the adoption, the glory? The truth about David’s throne? The truth about the destruction of Jerusalem? The truth about the death, burial, and resurrection of the son of God? The truth about the fig tree? The truth about the church? The truth about righteousness apart from works? The truth about the mark of the beast? The truth about the millennial temple? The truth about eternity?
Perhaps the Lord could have mentioned that one day, soon, this once dead man would have Pilate bow at his feet and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It is in this context that the Lord Jesus proved His moral glory by ‘answering not a word.’
‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ What a masterstroke of literary, grammatical, and spiritual genius. Who, what, when, where, are all answered, yet the ‘why’ is left out to be answered in the following entire word of God. The truth is laid out, and needs not my opinion for its worth.
The truth stands alone, I can only witness to it. And equally true, the infidel cannot diminish the truth, and is not tarnished by unbelief. The exact science of arithmetic was created by God, as He is a God of order, and man does a disservice by not admitting this truth. God is the master mathematician.
The notes of truth in the music scale have been described as the perfrct cadence of a babbling brook. The truth of color in the rainbow speak of order, design and the perfection of God. Pilate asks: ‘what is truth?’ and is surprised at such quiet dignity.
When a man is faced with truth, his response is inescapable. A decision is made to cast aside, to consider the matter, to ignore, to scoff, to doubt, to believe, to praise; some kind of response is set in motion. When Agrippa heard the word from Paul, he said: ‘Almost thou persuaded me to become a christian.’
Yes, the King’s heart was stirred as his mind discussed the matter with his heart, and his mind won the day, but indeed he made a decision: not yet. Pontius Pilate exhibited an aloof coldness, and washed his hands of the matter, even prophetically speaking, ‘I find in this man no fault.’ Now that is truth and Pilate unknowingly answered his own question.
He was within arms length of understanding a broken spirit, and it so passed him by. But what about me? Ah yes, here is the better question.