John 18:37
It is the peculiarity of some people that a plain "Yes" and "No" can hardly ever be got out of them. After all, however, it is only an irritating peculiarity, not a dangerous one. The real danger is when people say "Yes" and "No" too easily, too thoughtlessly. Here is the question of Pilate to Jesus," Art thou the King of the Jews?" What at first sight could look simpler and easier to answer? Yet it was not simple and easy. Thus we have to consider -

I. JESUS IN HIS TREATMENT OF PILATE'S QUESTION. TO Pilate the question was simple enough. He meant, of course, a king in the ordinary acceptation of the term. If Jesus had said "No" to this question, the answer would have been right enough, but it would only have led on to other questions, without any real result to the interests of truth. Jesus evidently did not wish to talk much at this season. The time for teaching was past; the time for submission and suffering had now fully come. Still, whatever Jesus had to say must be significant, and mere "Yes" or "No" to ignorant human questionings would have told nothing. Hence, without saying he was a king, Jesus talks about his kingdom and its principles of defense, which, of course, were equally its principles of attack.

II. Thus we see Jesus answering the question by showing THE ELEMENTS OF HIS POWER AND THE METHOD OF HIS PROGRESS.

1. The elements of his power. He looks a lonely man before the representatives of the greatest power in the then world. Whatever could be done by force of numbers and discipline, Rome could do. But quantity of a lower kind can do nothing against quality of a higher kind. Jesus is not concerned to maintain the integrity of a fleshly body, though even that he could have done if needful. It was the integrity of the inner life Jesus had to maintain against temptation. Jesus had his own personal battle to fight and victory to win, before he could lead men in their greatest battle and most decisive victory. The risen Savior is the Man Christ Jesus made fully manifest in his abiding sinlessness. If Pilate will only wait a little while, and open his mind to the truth, he will see by deeds that Jesus is a King. Not what a man says, but what he does, proves his claim.

2. The method of his progress. Jesus wants us to get above the ideas of mere conflict and victory and overcoming of opposition. What he desires is the free, joyous, and entire submission of the individual, because of the truth which is made clear to him in Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can distinguish reality from appearance, truth from falsehood, and the abiding from the perishing. Jesus, as he says, came into the world. The world was ever in his thoughts, for the world's good. He no more belonged to the land he happened to live in than the sun belongs to that particular part of the earth where he happens to be shining. The sun belongs to the whole world, and so does Jesus. The sun belongs to every age, and so does Jesus. He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and wherever there is a soul wrapped in delusion and falsehood, mistaking realities for dreams, and dreams for realities, Jesus is there to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. - Y.







Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king, then?
We are told by Paul, that our Lord before Pilate witnessed a good confession. It was a good confession —

1. As to the manner of it, for our Lord was truthful, gentle, prudent, and yet uncompromising, and courageous. His spirit was not cowed by Pilate's power, nor exasperated by his sneers.

2. As to the matter of it; for, though He said but little, that little was all that was needful. He claimed His own rights, and, at the same time, declared that His kingdom was not of this world, nor to be sustained by force. In our families, or among our business acquaintances, we may have to meet some petty Pilate; may we then also be true witnesses. Note —

I. That our Lord CLAIMED TO BE A KING. The question was but half earnest; the answer was altogether solemn.

1. Our Lord's claim was made without ostentation or desire to be advantaged. There were other times when, if He had said "I am a King," He might have been crowned amid general acclamations. He had no ambition for the gewgaws of human sovereignty. But now, when no good can come of it to Himself; when it will bring Him derision rather than honour; He speaks out plainly.

2. The clearness of His avowal; there was no mistaking it. When the time has come for the truth to be spoken, our Lord is not backward in declaring it. Truth has her times most meet for speech, and her seasons for silence.

3. Our Lord's claim must have sounded very singularly in Pilate's ear. Jesus was, doubtless, very much careworn, sad, and emaciated after recent experiences, and must have looked very unlike a king. Yet never earth saw truer King! None of the line of Pharaoh, or the race of the Caesars, was so intrinsically imperial. The carnal eye could not see this, but to the spiritual eye it is clear. The zeal Christ of to-day, among men, is unknown and unrecognized as much as He was among His own nation eighteen hundred years ago.

4. This claim shall be acknowledged one day by all mankind. To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord!

II. Our Lord declared THIS KINGDOM TO BE HIS MAIN OBJECT IN LIFE. "To this end," &c.

1. He was always the Lord of all, but to be King through the power of truth, it was essential that He should be born in our nature.(1) Because it seems unnatural that a ruler should be alien in nature to the people over whom he rules.(2) That He might be able to save His people. Subjects are essential to a kingdom. But all men must have perished through sin, had not Christ come into the world and been born to save.(3) Moreover, truth never exerts such power as when it is embodied. Truth spoken may be defeated, but truth acted out in the life of a man is omnipotent, Now, Christ was truth.

2. He added, "For this cause came I into the world."(1) Out of the bosom of the Father that He might set up His kingdom, by unveiling the mysteries which were hid from the foundation of the world.(2) From the obscure retirement of Joseph's workshop. Since He was to he a King, He must leave seclusion, and come forth to do battle for His throne. He came not forth because He courted popularity; but that, the truth being published, He might set up His kingdom. It was needful that He should come out into the world and teach, or truth would not be known, and consequently could not operate.

III. Our Lord revealed THE NATURE OF HIS ROYAL POWER. We should have thought the text would have run to this end... "that I should establish My kingdom." But had our Lord said that He might have misled Pilate; but when He said that His kingdom was truth, and that its establishment was by bearing witness to the truth, then, though Pilate did not understand Him — for it was far above his comprehension — yet, at any rate, he was not misled.

1. Our Lord, in effect, tells us that truth is the pre-eminent characteristic of His kingdom, and that His royal power over men's hearts is through the truth. He dealt not with fiction, but with facts; not with trifles, but with infinite realities.

2. Jesus has power over His people because He testifies not to symbols, but to the very substance of truth. The priests lost their power over the people because they went no further than the shadow, and sooner or later all will do so who rest in the symbol. The Lord Jesus retains His power over His saints because He reveals the substance, for grace and truth are by Jesus Christ.

3. This power lies in the fact that He brings forth unalloyed truth, without mixture of error. His teaching is no combination of God's Word and man's inventions. Men taught of His Holy Spirit to love the truth, recognize this fact and surrender their souls to the royal sway of the Lord's truth, and it makes them free, and sanctifies them. Jesus taught —(1) That worship must be true, spiritual, and of the heart, or else it would be nothing worth.(2) That all false living was base and loathsome. He poured contempt on the phylacteries of hypocrites.

4. But our Lord came not only to teach us the truth, but a mysterious power goes forth from Him, which subdues chosen hearts to truthfulness, and then guides truthful hearts into fulness of peace and joy. Have you never felt when you have been with Jesus, that a sense of His purity has made you yearn to be purged of all hypocrisy and every false way?

IV. Our Lord disclosed THE METHOD OF HIS CONQUEST — "That I should bear witness for the truth."

1. Christ never yet set up His kingdom by force of arms. Mahomet drew the sword, falsehood requires the rack of the Inquisition, but truth needs not such unworthy aid; her own beauty, and the Spirit of God, are her strength. Moreover, Jesus used no arts of priestcraft, or tricks of superstition, None can say that He reigns over men by the glitter of pomp, or the fascination of sensuous ceremonies. No kingdom is worthy of the Lord Jesus but that which has its foundations laid in indisputable verities; Jesus would scorn to reign by the help of a lie. True Christianity was never promoted by policy or guile, by doing a wrong thing, or saying a false thing.

2. What truth did He witness to? Ah, what truth did He not witness to? Did He not mirror all truth in His life? In an age of shams, He was always sweeping away pretences and establishing truth.

3. This is the way in which Christ's kingdom is to be set up in the world. For this cause was the Church born, and for this end came she into the world, that she might set up Christ's kingdom by bearing witness to the truth. I long to see you all witness-bearers. You must do it personally and collectively. Never join any Church whose creed you do not entirely and unfeignedly believe. I would not retard Christian unity, but there is something before unity, and that is, "truth in the inward parts" and honesty before God. Let us bear witness to the truth, since there is a great need of doing so just now, for witnessing is in ill repute.

V. Our Lord described HIS SUBJECTS — "Every one that is of the truth," &c. Wherever the Holy Spirit has made a man a lover of truth, he always recognizes Christ's voice and yields himself to it. Those who love pure truth, and know what Christ is, will be sure to fall in love with Him and hear His voice.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This entire conversation with the Roman governor will grow clearer, if, in every instance, we substitute "reality" or "genuineness" for "truth."

I. CHRIST CAME TO THIS WORLD TO INCARNATE THE "TRUTH" IN A LIVING HUMANITY. "To this end was I born," &c.

1. So He was "born." Pre-existence must certainly be suggested, or the expression sounds like tautology. Pilate felt the power of this one word; for afterwards when the Jews told him that Jesus had been proclaiming Himself the "Son of God," he recalled it (John 19:7-9).

2. He was born for one definite or supreme end; He was brought into the world to manifest truth to mankind. Let us discriminate —(1) Not ultimate truth, but available truth. Man wanted first and needed most what he could use for himself in life. Hence, Jesus Christ always preached religion, and not theology; He was practical, and not either abstruse or scientific.(2) Not speculative truth, but Divine truth. Christ never wasted time in mere imagination; what He preached was direct as if from heaven. That was why the people were astonished at His doctrine (John 3:31-33).(3) Not dogmatic truth, but experimental truth. Christ was the only religious leader who embodied His teaching in the living, breathing, moving form of a common man in the pursuit of every-day existence.(4) Not ethical truth, but spiritual truth. Very wisely once wrote Lord Bacon: "There are three parts in truth: first, the inquiry, which is the wooing of it; secondly, the knowledge, which is the presence of it; and thirdly, the belief, which is the enjoyment of it." A proper place, perhaps, into which our Lord's witness should be cast, is found in this last division. For it was no office of His to put forth a new code of morals for others to prove or acquire; He received His revelations from His Father, and what agitated His mind and heart was the wish to have men true enough to enjoy them. He set to others the will of His Father to obey; but He first showed them it was His will by Himself respecting it (Matthew 3:15).

II. JESUS CAME TO TEACH TRUTH TO THE WHOLE RACE. For this "cause" came He into the "world."

1. Look at this word "world"; what was it? Its three main divisions are indicated in the superscription on the cross (chap. John 19:19-22). All these people claimed to seek the truth.(1) The Greeks were seeking by philosophy, culture, debate and high art. In the time of Christ, these artists of Athens and Corinth pushed their inquiries into the minutest details. In architecture they were governed by rigid axioms as to proportion; their Parthenon would never have been a "true" building with one less of its curves. In the drama, they insisted on "the unities." They had "the line of beauty" for every feature of a statue, and "the tone of colour" for each shade of the painter's pictures. They even counted the digits, and called only the threes, sevens, and tens perfect. But when they came to conduct, they had no such thing as fixed conscientiousness: the juster Aristides became, the sooner they banished him; and the more moral Socrates' lectures grew, the nearer came the time for him to drink the hemlock.(2) The Latins were seeking truth by inexorable law. They were going to compel human beings to become true by correct drawing, just as they would triangles or trapeziums. But they had only very poor success; they got nothing in the end but a mere book of laws and a phalanx of soldiers to show the world what truth was. The populace grew rigid and machine-like; the higher classes reacted into vice and ingenious forms of immorality.(3) The Hebrews were seeking truth by ceremonial devotion. They had the Scriptures; but they exalted the letter above the spirit, and those glosses which tradition had added far above them both. Hence the people waxed false with the prismatic distortions of what was true. They claimed a supremacy over the rest of the world because of these "oracles of God" lodged in their hands; and they displayed the Word on their foreheads, but hid it not in their hearts — phylacteries instead of principles.

2. Look at this word "cause." What was the real cause for which Christ entered this wistful world of ours?(1) Fix attention upon the facts. He found the race crying out for the truth. Men wanted something they could trust. And just then there was heard a single voice in answer, "I am the Truth," &c.(2) This was Jesus' "cause;'' what did He get for it? They crucified Him! There may have been Greeks at the passover in Jerusalem; but this crucifixion was offensive. Most of the actors were Jews, and they shrieked for Barabbas instead of Jesus. And Pilate, the leader of the Latins, stood there washing his hypocritical hands! Plainly, Jesus Christ was a failure so far.

III. JESUS CAME TO "BEAR WITNESS" UNTO THE TRUTH, and that He did.

1. In despite of His rejection, He left behind Him a testimony for the true which has lifted into hope the wicked race that slew Him. "Whole centuries," says Schiller, "have shown philosophers as well as artists, busied in embodying truth and beauty in the depths of a vulgar humanity; the former appears often to sink at first; but the latter struggles up afterward, victorious in her own indestructible energy." Jesus' self-sacrifice was not lost upon the world, after all. Men are nobler, and women are happier, even little children are more blest, because the Truth went to Golgotha, and was slain upon the cross.

2. What Jesus declined when, in prosperity, He could now afford to accept, when, in a desperate suffering for truth's sake, God's providence gave it to Him. Pilate's title credited to the Son of man all that He ever claimed. Through pain and ignominy, He was now recognized as the world's monarch. Niebuhr writes: "I do not know what to do with a metaphysical God; I have often said that I want no other than the God of the Bible who is heart to heart with me." When Pilate said, "Ecce homo! it meant, Ecce rex!

3. The only hope of our race is found here in Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the kingdom of truth (1 John 5:19, 20).

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

The whole fabric of the Christian religion rests on the monarchy of Christ. The Hebrew prisoner who stood before the Roman judge claimed to be the King of men: and eighteen centuries have only verified His claim.

1. On what title does this claim rest?(1) Had the Messiah founded His kingdom on force, He would simply have been a rival of the Caesars. This was all that Pilate meant at first by his question. As a Roman he had no other conception of rule. But the empire of strength was now passing away; for no kingdom founded on force is destined to permanence. "They that take the sword," &c. Before Pilate, Christ distinctly disclaimed this. "If My kingdom were of this world," &c.(2) The next conceivable basis is prescriptive authority. The scribes' and priests' conception. They claimed to rule on a title such as this — "It is written." But Christ spoke lightly of venerable institutions and contravened opinions which were grey with the hoar of ages. He taught, as the men of His day remarked, on an authority very different from that of the scribes. Not even on His own authority. "If I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?"(3) He might have claimed to rule on the ground of incontrovertible demonstration of His principles. This was the ground taken by every philosopher who was the founder of a sect. Apparently, after the failure of his first guess, Pilate thought that he was called to try some new pretender of a truth which was to dethrone its rival system. This seems to be implied in his bitter question. For in those days it was as in our own: the opinion of to-day dethroned by the opinion of to-morrow: the heterodoxy of this age reckoned the orthodoxy of the next. And Pilate, having lived to see failure after failure, smiled bitterly at the enthusiast who again asserted His claims to have discovered the undiscoverable. And indeed, had the Redeemer claimed this — to overthrow the doctrine of the Porch and of the Academy, and to enthrone Christianity upon their ruins, by mere argument, that sceptical cry would have been not ill-timed.

2. In these three ways have men attempted the propagation of the gospel.(1) By force, when the Church ruled by persecution.(2) By prescriptive authority, when she claimed infallibility in the popery of Rome or the popery of the pulpit.(3) By reasoning, in the age of "evidences," when she pledged herself to rule the world by the conviction of the understanding, and laid deep and broad the foundations of rationalism.

I. THE BASIS OF THE KINGLY RULE OF CHRIST. Christ is a King in virtue of His being a witness to the truth.

1. Truth is used here in a sense equivalent to reality. It would indeed fritter down the majesty of the Redeemer's life, to say that He was a witness for the truth of any number of theological dogmas. The realities of life, of the universe, to these His every act and word bore testimony. He was as much a witness to the truth of the purity of domestic life as to the truth of the doctrine of the Incarnation: to the truth of goodness being identical with greatness as much as to the doctrine of the Trinity — and more — His mind corresponded with reality as the dial with the sun.

2. In being a witness to reality, we are to understand something deeper than that He spoke truly. Veracity is a correspondence between words and thoughts: truthfulness a correspondence between thoughts and realities, To be veracious, it is only necessary that a man give utterance to his convictions: to be true, it is needful that his convictions have affinity with fact. Let us take some illustrations of this distinction.(1) The prophet tells of men who call good evil, and evil good; yet these were veracious men; for to them evil was good. There was a correspondence between their opinions and their words, but none between their opinions and eternal fact: this was untruthfulness. The Pharisees were men of veracity. They thought that Christ was an impostor, that to tithe mint, anise, and cummin was as acceptable to God as to be just, and merciful, and true: yet veracious as they were, the title perpetually affixed to them is, "Ye hypocrites." The life they led being a false life, is called, in the phraseology of the Apostle John, a lie.(2) If a man speak a careless slander against another, believing it, he has not sinned against veracity: but the carelessness which has led him into so grave an error, effectually bars his claim to clear truthfulness. Or a man may have taken up second-hand, indolently, religious views: may believe them: defend them vehemently, — Is he a man of truth?

3. It is implied that His very Being, here, manifested to the world Divine realities. Human nature is meant to be a witness to the Divine, and the difference between Christ and other men is this: they are imperfect reflections, He a perfect one of God. There are mirrors which are concave, which magnify the thing that they reflect: there are mirrors convex, which diminish it. And we in like manner, represent the Divine in a false, distorted way. In One alone has the Divine been so blended with the human, that, as the ocean mirrors every star and every tint of blue upon the sky, so was the earthly life of Christ the Life of God on earth.

4. As truly as it was said by Christ, may it be said by each of us, "To this end was I born," &c.(1) The architect is here to be a witness. He succeeds only so far as he is a witness, and a true one. The lines and curves, the acanthus on his column, the proportions, all are successful and beautiful, only so far as they are true: the report of an eye which has lain open to God's world. If he build his lighthouse to resist the storm, the law of imitation bids him build it after the shape of the spreading oak which has defied the tempest. If man construct the ship which is to cleave the waters, calculation or imitation builds it on the model upon which the Eternal Wisdom has already constructed the fish's form.(2) The artist is a witness to the truth; or he will never attain the beautiful.(3) So is the agriculturist; or he will never reap a harvest.(4) So is the statesman, building up a nation's polity on the principles which time has proved true, or else all his work crumbles down in revolution: for national revolution is only the Divine rejection stamped on the social falsehood.

5. Christ's kingdom formed itself upon this law: "Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice;" that eternal law which makes truth assimilate all that is congenial to itself. Truth is like life: whatever lives absorbs into itself all that is congenial. The Church grew round Christ as a centre, attracted by the truth: all that had in it harmony with His Divine life and words, grew to Him (by gradual accretions): clung to Him as the iron to the magnet. The truer you are, the humbler, the nobler, the more will you feel Christ to be your King. You may be very little able to prove the King's Divine genealogy, or to appreciate those claims to your allegiance which arise out of His eternal generation: but He will be your Sovereign and your Lord by that affinity of character which compels you to acknowledge His words and life to be Divine. "He that receiveth His testimony hath to set to his seal that God is true."

II. THE QUALIFICATION OF THE SUBJECTS OF THE EMPIRE OF THE TRUTH.

1. To be true: "He that is of the truth heareth My voice." Truth lies in character. Christ did not simply speak truth: He was Truth. For example. The friends of Job spoke words of truth. Scarcely a maxim which they uttered could be impugned: cold, hard, theological verities: but verities out of place, in that place cruel and untrue. Job spoke many hasty, impetuous, blundering words; but the whirlwind came, and, before the voice of God, the veracious falsehoods were swept into endless nothingness: the true man, wrong, perplexed, in verbal error, stood firm: he was true though his sentences were not.

2. Integrity — which means not simply sincerity or honesty, but entireness, wholeness, soundness: that which Christ means when He says, "If thine eye be single or sound, thy whole body shall be full of light." This integrity is found in small matters as well as great; for the allegiance of the soul to truth is tested by small things rather than by those which are more important. There is many a man who would lose his life rather than perjure himself in a court of justice, whose life is yet a tissue of small insincerities. We resent hypocrisy, and treachery, and calumny, not because they are untrue, but because they harm us. We hate the false calumny, but we are half pleased with the false praise. Now he is a man of integrity who hates untruth as untruth. To a moral, pure mind, the artifices in every department of life are painful: the stained wood which deceives the eye by seeming what it is not, marble: the gilding which is meant to pass for gold; and the glass which is worn to look like jewels. "These are trifles." Yes, but it is just these trifles which go to the formation of character. He that is habituated to deceptions and artificialities in trifles will try in vain to be true in matters of importance: for truth is a thing of habit rather than of will.

3. Doing the truth. Christianity joins two things inseparably: acting truly, and perceiving truly. If any man will do His will, &c.(l) It is a perilous thing to separate feeling from acting. The romance, the poem, and the sermon, teach us how to feel. But the danger is this; if feeling be suffered to awake without passing into duty, the character becomes untrue. "We pity wretchedness and shun the wretched." We utter sentiments, just, honourable, refined, lofty — but somehow, when a truth presents itself in the shape of a duty, we are unable to perform it. And so such characters become by degrees like the artificial pleasure-grounds of bad taste, in which the waterfall does not fall, and the grotto offers only the refreshment of an imaginary shade, and the green hill does not strike the skies, and the tree does not grow. Their lives are a sugared crust of sweetness trembling over black depths of hollowness: more truly still, "whited sepulchres" — fair without to look upon, "within full of all uncleanness."(2) It is perilous to separate thinking rightly from acting rightly. He is already half false who speculates on truth and does not do it. Truth is given, not to be contemplated, but to be done. Life is an action — not a thought. And the penalty paid by him who speculates on truth, is that by degrees the very truth he holds becomes to him a falsehood. There is no truthfulness, therefore, except in the witness borne to God by doing His will — to live the truths we hold, or else they will be no truths at all. It was thus that He witnessed to the truth. He lived it. Conclusion: The kingly character of truth is exhibited strikingly in the calmness of the bearing of the Son of Man before His judge. Veracity is not necessarily dignified. There is a vulgar effrontery-a spirit of defiance which taunts, and challenges condemnation. Again, the man of mere veracity is often violent, for what he says rests upon his own assertion: and vehemence of assertion is the only addition he can make to it.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION.

1. Every monarch must have some sort of "Divine right"; what was the right that Jesus here asserted?(1) It might have been the right of possession. Christ could have said to him, "I am that Messiah who was predicted by their prophets to reign." But Pilate could have answered, "I do not recognize the right of even the Jew's Messiah to be a king."(2) It might have been the right of conquest. Jesus might have told him that He had subjected these people by His miracles, that He proved Divine authority by wielding Divine power. But to this Pilate had, for a ready reply, the woeful fact that it was the Jews who had already delivered this so-called Messiah into his hands.(3) It might have been the right of acceptance; for Christ, in sober earnest, could have appealed away from priests to populace, and reminded Pilate that once He had been obliged to withdraw Himself, lest they should make Him a king "by force;" and just now He rode in a royal triumph even into the gate of Jerusalem. But here, again, Pilate was at liberty to interrupt Him with a fine sarcasm, in the suggestion that He had better settle such matters with Herod, the regular heir.(4) What Jesus did assert, was the right of personal genuineness as a man, and hence as the King of men. The heathen governor, of course, did not dare dispute this; indeed, he hardly knew what it meant. "What is truth?"

2. What was the nature of His kingdom?(1) It was spiritual in every particular. It did not need any fleet or flag; it would not want either army or arsenal; it did not propose to collect customs or make treaties. This imperial officer saw clearly that Jesus offered no menace to Caesar.(2) And yet this kingdom was to be organic. It would have its laws, orders, rulers.It openly announced that it would lay its hand on men and money, lands and seas, in order that it might use them as means of advancement in raising the race to the image of God in purity, and holiness, and strength.

II. THE PROCESS BY WHICH THIS KINGDOM WAS ESTABLISHED ON THE EARTH.

1. In the beginning, Christ united a few true men to Himself for the sake of the work they could do. It was not the coming together of a people, who, as soon as they began to feel the need of government, elected a king.

2. Then He joined these to each other by rendering them efficient in the instant conversion of souls. He chose Andrew, and at once managed it so that Andrew "found" Simon, &c. And in order to show the principle on which this extension of His spiritual sway must proceed, He took pains to say that Nathanael was accepted, because he was a genuine, true man, precisely what every one needed to be in a kingdom of truth.

3. Then a tremendous sifting of the entire community ensued (John 6:53-58, 66-71). The point which our Lord pressed was that of a supreme and vital union to Himself.

4. The next step, now become essential, was for our Lord to disappear from their sympathy and sight. There was springing up, naturally enough, a human regard, which was diverting His adherents from truth alone (John 16:5-71

5. Finally, Jesus went away, and the promised Comforter came to guide into all truth.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

At a missionary meeting on the island Rarotonga, one of the Hervey group in the Pacific Ocean, an old man, a candidate for church fellowship, said, "I have lived during the reign of four kings: in the first we were continually at war, and a fearful season it was, watching and hiding with fear were all our engagements. During the reign of the second we were overtaken with a severe famine, and all expected to perish; then we ate rats and grass, and this wood and that wood. During the third we were conquered, and became the peck and prey of the two other settlements of the island; then if a man went to fish he rarely ever returned, or if a woman Went any distance to fetch food she was rarely ever seen again. But during the reign of this third king we were visited by another King, a great King, a good King, a powerful King, a King of love, Jesus the Lord from heaven. He has gained the victory, He has conquered our hearts; therefore we now have peace and plenty in this world, and hope soon to dwell with Him in heaven."

I. THE KINGDOM OF THE KING. Truth —

1. In its profound essence, as a revelation of God.

2. In its highest power as the Gospel.

3. In its broadest extent, as the uniting bond of all life.

4. In its bodily appearance, as the Person of Christ.

II. THE KING OF THIS KINGDOM Christ is personal truth itself, as the light Centre of all life, thoroughly at one with itself, and therefore the Light of the World.

III. THE TITLE OF THE KING. Perfect agreement of His birth and office, His ideal and His historical vocation.

IV. HIS GOVERNMENT —

1. The faithful Witness with His testimony.

2. The Host-leader of all faithful witnesses.

V. THE INCREASE OF HIS KINGDOM The word received as His voice by all who are of the truth.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

To this end was I born.
Apparently, the end of society is still what it has always been — amusement, and nothing else. As years go on, the race after pleasure grows in severity and speed. New modes of enjoyment are invented, and fresh ingenuity is exhibited in combining as many of them as possible. There is absolutely no such thing as rest or pause. What space is there amid the thronging, surging crush, for those delicate sentiments which make the higher life of humanity to grow and prosper? Such as these want light and air: they have neither. Society, in a word, knows no other existence except that which is material, and gross, and selfish. It talks vaguely of duty. At heart it is disposed to be sceptical as to whether there exists any real sanction for the performance of duty; and smiling a smile, which is more like a sneer of despair, puts the question by. It is struggling to find a sure foothold. It has plunged into a quagmire, has bid adieu to the firm ground on one side, and has not reached the firm ground on the other. In the worst sense of the phrase, it is in a state of transition. It has defiantly shaken its head at, and turned its back on, the old ologies; it has still to find consolation in the new isms. Thomas Carlyle says, "To speak in the ancient dialect, 'we have forgotten God;' we have quietly closed our eyes to the eternal substance of things, and opened them only to the shows and shams of things." Its old ideals, its old faiths, its old standards of duty, of right and wrong, are dissolving or dissolved. It is unsettled, and it is aimless. What society wants is seriously to ask whither it is going, and on what principle it is acting.

(The Standard.)

Christ's life was unique, yet it was like ours in some features. We came from God and return to God. Christ had a definite purpose in life. God has a purpose for all human lives. That purpose set in motion the Reformation, and all revolutions by which society is moulded. This is the Christian view of life. Let us look at its influence as related to character —

I. IT IS AN INSPIRING FAITH. Want of purpose is a source of weakness.

II. THE GROUND OF TRUE SELF-RESPECT.

III. A MOTIVE FOR MODESTY. Let us not measure ourselves among ourselves, but ask, "Am I doing God's will?"

IV. IT FOSTERS COURAGE. Difficulty cannot dishearten those conscious of fulfilling a Divine trust. Conclusion:

1. If you see yourself doing your own will, stop!

2. Remember that no question is of greater importance than the discovery of God's plan of your life.

(Prof. E. B. Coe.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TRUTH HERE? AND FOR WHAT SPECIAL REASONS IT WAS THE END OF CHRIST'S BEING BORN, AND COMING INTO THE WORLD TO BEAR WITNESS TO IT?

1. By the truth we are to understand — that of which Jesus Christ is said to have been "full" (John 1:14); and which, a will as grace, "came by Him" (John 1:17). That into which the "Spirit of truth" was promised to guide His disciples; which, "if they continued in His Word" (John 8:31, 32), they were to "know," and which was to "make them free." The "truth as in-Jesus" (Ephesians 4:21). It includes —(1) All the doctrines of the gospel, especially those that are of a primary importance, as those concerning the fall and recovery of man; the Divinity and atonement of Christ; the agency of the Holy Spirit.(2) The precepts, promises, and threatenings. It is that system of truth, the articles of which are linked together in a kind of chain; that analogy or "proportion of faith," according to which every one that prophesies or preaches is to conform his doctrine (Romans 12:6), that he may "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11).

2. Now the end for which Christ was born, was that He "might bear witness unto the truth." It is certain He came also for other important ends, but one principal end, without which the others would have been unavailing, was that here spoken of. The reasons of this are —(1) Because the truth is the only means of our illumination (Psalm 19:7, 8). If we are translated "out of darkness into marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9); if we, who "were sometime darkness, are now light in the Lord;" if we are "not of the night nor of darkness," but "children of the light, and children of the day" (1 Thessalonians 5:5); it is surely not by error and false doctrine, but by the truth. Hence the Holy Scriptures, which are "a light shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19), are said to be able to make us "wise unto salvation" (2 Timothy 3:15, 16); and we read of the "light of the glorious gospel" (2 Corinthians 4:4).(2) Because it is the chief means of quickening us, who are naturally "dead in sin," and begetting in us "repentance unto life" and living faith, which "comes by hearing" it (Romans 10:17); hence it is termed the "Word of Life" (Philippians 2:16), and said to be "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12); and Christ's words are said to be "spirit and life" (John 6:63).(3) Because it is the grand object, as well as means, of that faith whereby we are saved (Ephesians 1:17, 18); we are described as being "chosen to salvation through belief of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Mark 16:16).(4) Because it is a principal means of our salvation. The original cause is the grace of God; the meritorious cause is Christ's atonement; the efficient cause is the Holy Ghost; but the instrumental cause is the "Word of truth" (John 15:8), and faith therein. Hence —

(a)The truth is the chief instrument of our regeneration (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Psalm 19:7).

(b)By it we are made free (John 8:31-36; Romans 8:2).

(c)By it we are safely guided in the way to heaven (Psalm 19:11; 2 Peter 1:19).

(d)By it we are strengthened for duty, for suffering, and for all the conflicts of our spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:14-17).

(e)By the declarations and promises of it, we are comforted and supported amidst all present trials and troubles (Romans 15:4).

(f)By it we are "thoroughly furnished to every good work," and made useful among men, even "burning and shining lights" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

(g)By it we are at length fully sanctified and perfected in holiness (chap. John 17:17; Ephesians 4:11-16).

(h)By it we are finally saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2; Romans 1:16).

II. IN WHAT WAY, AND FOR WHAT IMMEDIATE PURPOSES HE BORE WITNESS TO IT?

1. He did so by word, or by His doctrine, which revealed and explained the truth. Thus He personally, clearly, and fully bore witness to every part of it —(1) As to the unity and perfections of God (Mark 12:29; Matthew 5:48).(2) His spiritual nature (John 4:23, 24).(3) The nature, dignity, condescension, sufferings, death, and exaltation of the Son (John 13:14; John 8:58; John 17:5; Matthew 20:18, 19).(4) Our depraved state by nature (John 3:5, 6; Matthew 15:19).(5) Our redemption through Him (John 3:16).

(a)The nature and necessity of repentance towards God, of faith in himself, of regeneration, of sanctification (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 5:8. 48; 18:3; Luke 18:14; John 14:6).

(b)He revealed the immortality of the soul (Matthew 22:32); the resurrection of the body (John 5:25, 28, 29); a future judgment (Matthew 25:31, 32; Matthew 12:36); the joys of heaven (Matthew 25:21); the miseries of hell (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:23).

2. By His astonishing miracles, and by prophecies afterwards fulfilled: e.g., the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24.; Luke 21.). Thus He afforded a rational ground whereon all men might believe, or be left without excuse (John 5:36; John 10:37, 38; John 15:24).

3. By His sufferings, death, and resurrection; for He laid down His life in attestation of the truth of His doctrine, and witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate. Thus He showed that the truth, which He had delivered, was no trivial matter, but of infinite importance, that mankind might lay it to heart, and maturely consider, and "give earnest heed to it (Hebrews 2:1).

4. By His Spirit, by whose enlightening and gracious influences we may understand the truth, experience its efficacy, and find it to be "the power of God unto salvation" (John 15:26; Acts 2:39; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

5. By His example, directing and inciting to the practice of it; His precepts, commanding and enjoining it; His promises, alluring and inviting to it; His theatenings, deterring us from the neglect of it.

6. By His apostles, who were witnesses both to Him and the truth (Luke 24:48; John 15:27; Acts 1:8, 22; Acts 5:32); and, like their Master, bore testimony to it, by their doctrine, "declaring the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:20, 21, 27; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 11, 12); by their miracles (Romans 15:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 12:12), and prophecies fulfilled; by their example (2 Corinthians 6:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:10); by their sufferings; (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-31; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 1:8-12; 2 Timothy 2:9-13).

III. WHO ARE OF THE TRUTH, AND HOW THEY HEAR THE VOICE OF CHRIST?

1. They are "of the truth" —(1) Who are rescued from the influence of "the father of lies," and are no longer blinded and deceived by him, or by the word and the spirit of it (1 Corinthians 2:12), or by the flesh, through Satan's agency.(2) Who are no longer deprived of discernment and judgment, as to their understanding, or of feeling as to their conscience; who are not biassed as to the choice and intention of their will; nor entangled and occupied by the creature in their affections.(3) Who are sincerely desirous to know, receive and submit to the truth, however opposed to their preconceived opinions, and their accustomed and confirmed habits.(4) Who, for this purpose, are truly willing to part with any temporal honour, gratification, or profit, which appears inconsistent with the attainment of this object, and especially, whatever they find in themselves contrary to the Divine will, and are ready to submit to any loss, reproach, difficulty, or suffering, to which they may be exposed in the way of obedience.(5) Who, conscious how liable they are to be mistaken, deceived, and misled, in their inquiries after the truth, and endeavours to obey it, dare not lean to their own understanding, or trust in their own efforts, but apply to God in prayer and faith, to be "guided into all" sacred and Divine "truth."(6) Who "call no man master" on earth, but remember "one is their Master, even Christ" (Matthew 23:8), and therefore, "seek the law at His mouth."(7) Who comply with their duty, as far as they know it already, remembering Christ's words (John 7:17). Such persons will consider every part of Christ's doctrine as infallibly true and infinitely momentous, and will, therefore, desire and delight to hear, read, and meditate upon it, at all opportunities (1 John 4:5, 6).

2. In regard to the manner of "hearing Christ's voice," we should do it —

(1)With reverence.

(2)With humility.

(3)With seriousness.

(4)With attention.

(5)In a childlike and teachable spirit.

(6)With faith.

(7)With love.

(8)With meekness and patience.

(9)In a spirit of prayer.

(10)With an obedient mind.

(J. Benson.)

Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.
Does any one challenge the expression, "instinct of truth," and speak of an opposite tendency — that of falsehood — as the instinct of fallen humanity? There is much to support this. "David said in his haste, I say deliberately that 'all men are liars,'" exclaimed a famous statesman. The world is full of falsehood. The very framework of society rests upon semblances and false assumptions. Still this instinct has not superseded in fallen man the instinct of truth. Society could not exist if truth were not more probable than falsehood. There is falsehood enough to necessitate caution; there is still an overplus of truth sufficient to justify confidence.

I. THE INSTINCT OF KNOWING TRUTH.

1. It is in human nature to crave satisfaction of knowledge. We see this in very low examples. A trial which shocks every pure feeling finds ten thousand readers who have no motive but vulgar curiosity. This is the twist the Fall has given to the instinct of knowledge. It is the very snare by which man fell. But there is an instinct underlying this — not corrupt, but wholesome — the desire to know the highest truth, to be informed about God, His will, His love. The Fall did not destroy this. That sort of guessing which is the amount of nature's help towards this knowledge is felt to be unsatisfactory. Let me not think but know is the instinctive cry.

2. There are many counteracting influences to this desire.(1) Indolence taking refuge in the thing in hand — in the received opinion, traditions, &c.(2) Prejudice — never so strong as in matters the most important and mysterious, never so jealous as when there is most at stake and least in sight; never so sensitive as in a region in which change involves both effort and singularity.(3) Formalism. These influences have a tendency to dull without satisfying that natural thirst which God has implanted in us.

3. Every man in whom this instinct of truth is, will hear Christ's voice, i.e., will recognize in His gospel the satisfying responses, because —(1) He speaks with authority. His "verily, verily" has a ring of certainty. It is not every positive man who convinces; many rouse opposition, because positiveness sometimes is the mask of weakness, the stimulant of suspicion. It was not so with Christ. The people felt that there was a difference between Him and the scribes in this matter. How convincing is the voice of a man who thoroughly knows his subject. Contrast the lecture of a real master with that of a smatterer! Christ was at home in His subject. "We speak that we do know." A man eager for Divine knowledge will find satisfaction here because there is no traditional tentative doctrine, but the word of One who can say, "This is true."(2) Christ satisfies the instinct of truth by not only speaking it, but being it — "I am the Truth." Only in a Person can the instinct be satisfied. The knowledge of things, books, theology, &c., can never quench this thirst. The knowledge of a Person, in whom all truth centres and from whom it radiates with light and warmth to every point in the circumference of being, is provided by the gospel.

II. THE INSTINCT WHICH PROMPTS TOWARDS BEING TRUE.

1. There are, indeed, men who dread truth. Some men prefer carrying about them the suspicion of some fatal malady to running the risk of making suspicion certainty by going to a physician. So in things spiritual.

2. This indisposition arises from —(1) Timidity. There is an impression that certain sins are unpardonable, concerning which we may as well be ignorant as desperate.(2) Procrastination. Anything which involves exertion is deferred till a more convenient season — a season always a little beyond.(3) The innate gambling spirit of human nature, which loves the excitement of chance. These powers are mighty, but they do not disprove the assertion that there is an instinct of being true — a desire in men to see themselves as they are!

3. How does Christ satisfy this.(1) By removing the question altogether from the province of innocence. His message is to the sinful. It is a question, then, only of degree, between one who comes to Him and another. He does not say, "I come to save such and such sinners," but all, even the worst. He encourages us to be entirely frank with ourselves and Him.(2) Christ says, "Be true," and interprets this to mean, "Walk in the light with a brave, resolute, consistency." There is a natural horror of hypocrisy. In treating this as the one detestable vice, Christ appealed to an instinct of truth which has survived the Fall. Then He drew to Himself all that is sound, honest, noble; and, in demanding truth as His one condition, proved also His own adaptation to the instinctive demands of those whom He came to save.

(Dean Vaughan.)

When a man knows he is telling you the truth everything about him corroborates his sincerity. Any accomplished cross-examining lawyer knows within a little whether a witness is genuine or a deceiver. Truth has her own air and manner, her own tone and emphasis. Yonder is a blundering, ignorant country fellow in the witness-box; the counsel tries to bamboozle and confuse him, but all the while he feels that he is an honest witness, and he says to himself, "I should like to shake this fellow's evidence, for it will greatly damage my case."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THEY ARE OF THE TRUTH (1 John 3:18, 19). This implies —

1. Uprightness and integrity of character.

2. A stedfast attachment to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. The whole of Divine revelation is called the truth; but the gospel is so called by way of eminence. "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth" (2 Corinthians 13:8).

3. A stedfast attachment to Christ, the Truth itself, the essential Truth of God. He is the original of truth, and its brightest manifestation.

4. An intimate relation to God, as the God of truth. They are begotten by the Word of truth, and bear a resemblance to the Author of truth.

II. THEY HEAR THE SAVIOUR'S VOICE. Many heard His voice indeed, while He was on earth, who derived no real benefit. They gave Him the hearing, as many do His ministers, and that was all; but His chosen people both hear and receive the truth in love. "My sheep hear My voice," &c. Whether He speaks to them in His word, or by His ministers, or whether in a way of providence, they hear and approve, believe and obey. Such as truly hear His voice, hear it —

1. With seriousness and attention.

2. With judgment and understanding. He tells us that His sheep not only hear His voice, but they know it; they distinguish it from the voice of strangers.

3. With affection and delight. Those who have heard with understanding would be always hearing. They are ready to say, "It is the voice of my Beloved," &c.

4. As addressed to themselves, and as applicable to their own case. They do not hear for others. With Samuel, they say, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

5. With a humble resolution to believe and obey. Peter and Matthew heard the Saviour's voice, saying, "Follow Me;" and they instantly obeyed.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Links
John 18:37 NIV
John 18:37 NLT
John 18:37 ESV
John 18:37 NASB
John 18:37 KJV

John 18:37 Bible Apps
John 18:37 Parallel
John 18:37 Biblia Paralela
John 18:37 Chinese Bible
John 18:37 French Bible
John 18:37 German Bible

John 18:37 Commentaries

Bible Hub
John 18:36
Top of Page
Top of Page