What is the truth? Pilate asked, in John 18:38. We all want to know the truth. Without the truth our whole society would not exist. Instead it would have been an utterly dramatic chaos.
Imagine a society in which the truth is not important. Any judgement in and outside the Courts made is based on what is perceived to be the truth. How can the law be executed when there is no truth. Our whole judgement system is based on what is the truth.
The same counts for all commercial transactions; the whole economy is based on truth. The kilo bag of potatoes someone buys is based on the truth that it are real potatoes and it is a kg. The one who sells it relies on the money in exchange to be true and not false. Without truth the whole system would collapse.
An old Rabbinic saying says that the world rests on only 3 things, which are righteousness, truth and peace. And for our society, the most important of these is truth. The truth is the pillar of our society and of our economy.
The truth has been for both Greek and Jew very important aspects of life and faith. The word for truth is therefore difficult to translate as is shown by the struggles translators faced in the 3rd and 2nd Century before Christ, when they translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek. Truth is a concept and much more than only a word.
Speaking the truth in the personal context characterises the thoughts and actions of the person itself and it makes the integrity of a person. And any person with such characteristics is someone whom we want to trust, or put our faith in.
So, faith and truth are all closely related to each other. It is as in the words of Psalm 111:7-8 said about God: ‘The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy, they are established for ever and ever to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness’.
We have inherit the importance of truth from the Greek/Roman civilization. For the Greek the truth is used to denote a norm because existence means acting on the truth and self-understanding. In the New Testament we find already the importance of truth, not only for the society or for the economy, but even more so for the divine and eternal truth.
In Pilate’s reply we can sense his desire for truth. Not only to speak judgment in the case brought before him, but in a wider context the search for the ultimate divine and eternal truth. It is the eternal and divine truth that leads to salvation and it can only be offered by the God Who is the Truth in His being and His actions.