38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” 39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Pilate now gave a brief response to Jesus’ statements and went out to the courtyard to speak to Jewish leaders.
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
Pilate’s only response to Jesus was to make a statement by a question: “What is truth?” He should have been serious about his own question because in it lay the ultimate answer for his soul. Nevertheless, he turned away from Jesus as a religious fanatic with peculiar ideas. He was not interested in pursuing the matter further. He remained agnostic.
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews,
Pilate turned from the one who was the truth without pressing Him further regarding the most important question for his life. He went outside the Praetorium to speak to the Jews. He showed no interest in an answer for his soul.
and said to them, “I find no fault [crime] in Him at all.”
Pilate acquitted Jesus of sedition against Rome. He should have set Jesus free at this point.
“But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover.
Pilate invoked a custom of releasing a prisoner at Passover. He did this to put onus on the Jewish leaders to make the decision to release Jesus or not. He attempted to prevent an uprising by doing this. This was also a gesture of good will by Pilate.
Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
After declaring Jesus innocent, Pilate asked the Jews whether they wanted Him or someone else punished. His action was completely inconsistent with his declaration that Jesus was innocent. Instead, he transferred his responsibility to those who hated Christ. He was a soulless, feckless individual. He slayed the truth for expediency. He operated as an unadulterated politician. He yielded to mob rule. His use of “King of the Jews” was a sarcastic statement to agitate the Jews.
Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!”
To Pilate’s surprise the crowd rejected his scheme and asked for Barabbas’ release (Mt 27:20). They demanded that he condemn a person he declared innocent.
Now Barabbas was a robber.
Mark 15:7 identified Barabbas as a murderer and insurrectionist. Pilate did not calculate that Jewish hatred of Jesus would cause them to release a murderer on their own society.
It is possible to know the truth if one carries positive volition to find it.
Pliny the Elder said, “The only certainty is that nothing is certain.” This is also an expression of the skepticism of our day. Cynicism blinds people to the truth. People today are blind to truth much like a monkey who tries to read Shakespeare. Truth is not fashionable to our society today.
The ultimate question in philosophy is how one knows what he knows (epistemology). We live in an age of rampant skepticism. Much of our society does not believe that it is possible to know anything ultimate. It is only conceivable to know fragments of things. Everyone has his or her own idea of what is real. Nothing is known outside of self (solipsism). All of this is true if one starts from self rather than from divine revelation. Without God revealing Himself in the Bible, by creation, and in Jesus Christ, people must live in agnosticism—a perpetual and suspended state of doubt.
People can look at truth right in the face, just as Pilate did, and deny it outright. He lived in a day of philosophical pluralism and skepticism as well. He yielded to the prevailing view of his society, as do many today. Are you willing to go against what may be a false belief system? Does society influence your thinking, or can you stand against prevailing group think? The claim to know truth is never fashionable. Take a serious look at Jesus who is found revealed by God in the Bible.