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WHAT IS TRUTH?  

On Saturday 15 November 2014 I attended part of a study, led by Michael Cassidy, Founder of African Enteprise, on Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John. The theme, which is also the title of his latest book, was “The Church Jesus prayed for”. Jesus prayed for a united church one on earth and with God. In verse 17 Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth”. The study was extremely inspiring and made me think about the number of quotes used colloquially without people always realising that they are, in fact, quoting the Bible. One most used is ‘The truth will set you free’.

We frequently hear of people being urged to speak the truth as it will set them free from pain and guilt. There is no doubt that this is true even though it may hurt others sometimes. Once the truth of a situation is brought to the surface all involved can move on with their lives with understanding and a willingness to either continue or discontinue a relationship. We see this when families who have had a loved one killed. When the culprit is apprehended and goes to court, the bereaved families ask him/her to tell the truth so that they can know what happened to their loved one. There are 2 examples here in South Africa at this time. The families of Reeva Steenkamp and Anni Dewani have asked those accused of their daughters’ deaths to please tell the truth. Oscar Pistorius was recently convicted of culpable homicide having shot and killed Reeva in 2013. Shrien Dewani, was on trial for allegedly arranging Anni’s murder in 2012. He has been found not guilty due to conflicting and insufficient evidence. Both of these families have pleaded with Oscar and Shrien to simply tell the truth so that they can all be freed from the pain of not knowing what actually happened. They are asking the two men to tell the truth about the events which led to their daughters’ deaths.

At the workshop on that Saturday morning Michael referred us back to John 14:6 which gives another meaning to the word truth; one which is much more powerful and freeing in every sense of the word. In this verse Jesus makes an intriguing and powerful statement about himself – I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Previously He had said that those who follow him will know the truth and the truth will set one free. (John 8:32) About which truth was he speaking? – the spoken or action truth in everyday life as described in the previous paragraph or of Himself, The Truth. Personally, I believe that he meant both. That means, speaking the truth at all times is important, but if Jesus is “… The Truth…” then it is He that sets us free and not only telling the truth. We are reminded of what He prayed in John 17:17 – that God’s word is Truth. Within the Trinity Christ is known as The Word so that brings it all together. Jesus is The Truth and The Word and The Truth will set you free.

To add to this topic, in John 18:37 & 38, as Jesus stands before Pilate, he is asked if he is a king. He replies that yes, he is a king and he has come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Now, for those of us who are Christians, Jesus and the Father are one, so if he came to bear witness to The Truth then God is The Truth to which Jesus came to bear witness. Then Pilate asks Jesus “What is truth?” and leaves the room. A note in The Student Bible, New International Version says, “Pilate’s most famous words were a cynical question. The answer was standing right in front of him, but Pilate did not really want to know”.

It is very hard to tell the truth in certain circumstances BUT if one accepts the statement of Christ being The Truth then, with His help in difficult times, it will be easier to tell the Truth. One WILL be set free to continue living life to the full. If that is hard for those who are not Christians, remember that it was Jesus who first said that the truth will set you free, so when you use it with the expectation of the spoken truth setting one free, you are quoting Jesus himself.

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