John 18:36-37 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Truth is a very big deal in the Gospel of John. Countless verses quoting Jesus begin with phrases like, “I tell you the truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus claims not only to speak the truth, but to actually be truth itself. And in today’s text Jesus declares that he came into the world to testify to the truth. Furthermore, if you are on the side of truth, he says, you will listen to him.
It’s a fairly bold move to say that you are truth and that your purpose for coming into the world is to testify to the truth. It’s downright arrogant…unless your claim is true. And that’s where the rub is. If it is true that Jesus is the truth, (and that he came to testify to the truth), then it would be quite prudent to listen to what he has to say. In fact, it would be an imperative.
The thrust of our text reminds us, rather loudly, that Jesus was not simply an interesting teacher. He claimed to be so much more. People who say that Jesus was just a good teacher – a moral philosopher – are telling me that…
A.) They have never read the gospels for themselves in their entirety. If they had, they could say that they do not believe the things that Jesus taught, but they could not say that his self-referential claims were not audacious. The “good teacher” response is evidence that a person has not read what this “good teacher” taught.
B.) They do not want to submit to his Lordship nor depend upon him as their Savior. Autonomous man still wants to be God. Even postmodern man, with his many “relative truths” – however contradictory they may all be – does not desire the One who claims to be the Truth (capital “T”).
The words of verse 37 are so powerful:
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.
One doesn’t have to be an expert in logic to understand the implications here. If you don’t listen to Jesus, then you are not on the side of truth. And if Jesus is the Truth and his purpose in coming to us was to bear witness to the truth, then what Jesus says about every sphere of life matters…a lot.
Of course, “listens to me” means infinitely more than to audibly hear what Jesus has to say. It implies “responding in obedience” to him as well. Submission is key here. Jesus is not suggesting that he would be happy if you went to Starbucks, had your favorite coffee, and simply listened to someone talk to you about Jesus. The person, work, and words of Jesus Christ demand a response. And for 2,000 years people knew this and either submitted to him or rejected him. But today some folk opt for just patting him on the head and then ignoring him. But as the wise philosopher-theologian Geddy Lee, from the rock group Rush, sang…
“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”
Jesus will not be ignored…at least not with impunity. He will not be placed on the backburner of your life…only to be thought about at funerals and on Christmas mornings. He is the Truth. He testifies to the truth. In fact, as Jesus put it earlier in verse 37, “I am a king.”
Does all of that really describe a person you can blow off if you want to…without consequence?
Why not pick up your Bible today and begin listening to Jesus. Start with the Gospel of John. Then move to Matthew, Mark and Luke… then read John again. Then start listening to Jesus as he speaks through his appointed apostles and prophets. God’s ordinary and significant means by which he has ordained that his Son be encountered and heard is through his Word – the Bible. So pick it up and side with him today.
Much is made these days of being on "the right side of history." I would rather be on the right side of Truth.
Grace and Truth,