Within the context of the decision to execute Jesus, John’s Gospel offers a surprising private dialogue between Pilate, the Empire’s most powerful earthly representative, and Jesus, a bound criminal who is presented as a witness to the truth.
It seems that Pilate actually wants to know the truth that is contained in the very extraordinary person standing before his throne: «Are you the king of the Jews?». Jesus will respond, laying out his truth in two fundamental affirmations that are very dear to John the Evangelist.
«Mine is not a kingdom of this world». Jesus isn’t the kind of king that Pilate can imagine. He doesn’t want to occupy Israel’s throne or dispute the imperial power of Tiberius. Jesus doesn’t belong to that system where the prefect of Rome moves, sustained by injustice and lies. He isn’t supported by armed force. He has a completely different base. His kingship comes from God’s love for the world.
But right away he adds something very important: «I am a king… and I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth». He is in this world where he wants to exercise his kingship, but in a surprising way. He comes not to govern as Tiberius, but to be «witness to the truth», introducing God’s love and justice to human history.
This truth that Jesus brings with him isn’t a theoretical doctrine. It is a call that can transform people’s lives. Jesus has said it thus: «If your keep my Word… you will know the truth and the truth will make you free». Being faithful to Jesus’ Gospel is a unique experience since it leads us to know a liberating truth, one that is capable of making our life more human.
Jesus Christ is the unique truth that allows us Christians to be truly alive.
- In the Church of Jesus, don’t we need a collective examination of conscience in front of the «Witness to the Truth»?
- Do we dare to humbly discern what there is of truth and what of lies in our following of Jesus?
- Where is there liberating truth and where are there lies that enslave us?
- Don’t we need to make tracks toward greater levels of human and Gospel truth in our lives, our communities, our institutions?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf