"What is Truth?" Lesson 01 - Jesus is Truth
“What is truth?” This was a question asked by a Roman prefect named Pontius Pilate almost 2000 years ago. It is a question still asked today. There are many people who believe that truth is relative. Is there such a thing as absolute truth? What does the Bible say about truth?
Let’s turn to John 8:32 and read together.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The Bible clearly states that truth is something we know and it is also something that can make us free. Did you know that the Bible states that are three truths? Over the next three lessons we will learn about each of these three truths.
Let’s turn to John 14:6 and read together.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’“
Who is Jesus and how is He the truth? Some people see Jesus as a good moral teacher, while other people believe that Jesus was actually the divine Son of God. Scottish theologian James Stewart once wrote the following on the personhood of Jesus:
He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet He was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.
No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dream of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.
He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the Gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.
We can say with confidence that there was a historical Jesus. Outside of the Bible, there are several secular sources that lend credence to the historicity of Jesus. Here are three sources for you to consider:
- Flavius Josephus (Jewish historian, 37-100 AD)
- “So he [Ananus, son of Ananus the high priest] assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before him the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others (or some of his companions) and when he had formed an accusation against them, he delivered them to be stoned.” (Antiquities 20.9.1)
- Cornelius Tacitus (Roman historian, 55-120 AD)
- Christians “derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate” (Annals 15.44)
- Mara bar Serapion (Stoic philosopher from Roman province of Syria)
- “What else can we say, when the wise are forcibly dragged off by tyrants, their wisdom is captured by insults, and their minds are oppressed and without defense? What advantage did the Athenians gain from murdering Socrates? Famine and plague came upon them as a punishment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea and the Jews, desolate and driven from their own kingdom, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise king, because of the “new law” he laid down.” (letter to his son, circa 73 AD?)
When you read about Jesus in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in The Bible, there is no denying that Jesus was a good moral teacher. However, unlike Buddha, Mohammad, Gandhi, or any other good moral teacher in history, Jesus claimed that He was the divine Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64). Jesus’ followers also claimed that He was the divine Son of God and the Messiah come to save the world (Luke 24:25, 27; John 1:45; John 20:31; Acts 9:20, 22; Acts 17:2-3; Acts 18:28).
How can we prove that Jesus is the Messiah? In the Old Testament, there are over 300 prophecies of the Messiah. The true Messiah must fulfil all these prophecies. Click here for a link detailing 40 of these prophecies. Let us look at the odds of fulfilling only 40 of these prophecies in a simple “yes-no” proposition:
- 02 prophecies: 1 in 4
- 10 prophecies: 1 in 1024
- 20 prophecies: ~1 in 1 million
- 40 prophecies: ~1 in 1 quadrillion (1 followed by 12 zeroes!)
Yet, despite these astronomical odds, Jesus fulfilled every single one of these prophecies!
If Jesus is indeed the Messiah, how can we know that He is also the son of God? The greatest story in the Bible is the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is pointed out by Christians all over the world as proof-positive that Jesus is the Son of God, yet there are many skeptics who doubt the authenticity of the resurrection. Was Jesus’ resurrection a hoax or was it historical fact?
Some skeptics claim that the disciples made up Jesus’ resurrection. However, ask yourself this – does a lie have the power to transform lives? Consider Peter, who went from a coward, who denied Christ three times, to a preacher speaking boldly for Christ. Also consider Saul of Tarsus, who went from being a zealous Pharisee persecuting Christians to Paul the Apostle, an ambassador for Christ.
Note that the testimonies of the disciples were sealed with blood. Ten of the disciples were martyred for believing in Jesus as the Son of God. (The last disciple was sent in exile to a remote island when he did not die from his torture.) Would fabricators really go that far?
Other skeptics claimed that the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb. Yet, consider how ludicrous that claim is. The tomb of Jesus was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. How would the disciples physically get past them and manage to carry away Jesus’ body? Let us also consider the moral and ethical implications of such an act. Would the disciples dare desecrate the body of their beloved master?
Ultimately, the enemies of Jesus could have crushed the emerging Christian movement in its infancy by simply providing Jesus’ body for everyone to view. Yet, why didn’t they? Because there was no body in the tomb! Jesus did resurrect and ascend to glory!
You cannot say Jesus was just a good man, but not the divine Son of God. Why? Because good men do not lie. Jesus only leaves you to come to one of three conclusions about Him:
- Madman: Jesus was demented, deluded, deranged
- Bad man: Jesus was a charlatan, phony, an imposter
- God-man: Jesus is the Lord, Savior, and Son of God
Let’s turn to Matthew 16:15 and read together.
“He said to them, ’But who do you say that I am?’”
Friend, Pontius Pilate asked “what was truth?” but sadly, he walked right out of the room where truth was staring him in the face. Jesus says He is the truth, the Messiah, and the Son of God.
Who do you think Jesus is?