" Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" - John 17:17
"Jesus answered 'You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.'
Pilate said to Him, 'What is truth?'" - John 18:37(b) -38(a)
The first quote is from what is called the High Priestly Prayer of Christ. It is his prayer in the upper room after Judas has departed to betray Christ and after Jesus has had what will become His last significant verbal teaching opportunity with His disciples. He pours into them what is coming up so that it will strengthen them. And then He prays a pray on their behalf to God, that God would strengthen both the disciples and those that come after them - not that He would take them out of the world, but that God would keep them from Satan. And how does Jesus ask God to keep them, to show that they are not of the kosmos (world)? By sanctifying them, by making them hold by means of God's truth. Christ points the disciples again to something He has been showing them: God's word is truth.
The next time we hear of truth is one chapter later and within 8 hours when Christ, arrested by the Jews and tried three times, is brought before Pilate for the judgement required to execute Christ. Pilate, seeking to find a reason to release Christ, asks Him if He is a king. Christ answers in the affirmative - not only to state the fact of His kingship, but to explain His mission: He is here to bear witness to the truth to those who are of the truth. Pilate, in words that have come to so many down through the centuries, retorts that truth is essentially unknowable, that it is true for some and not others.
Thus Christ's arrest and trial is bookended by the concept and question of truth. What of it?
Are we also a people of truth? And not just a truth, but the Truth?
We have a definition set for us by Christ Himself. God's word is truth. And we know what God's word is - 66 books of Scripture set forth. And we know the impact that this truth should have on us - it should be sanctifying us, making us more holy, making us a people of the truth.
But here is the unfortunate reality of my own life: too often it does not. Why not? Because too often I fail to do two things;
1) I fail to focus on God's truth.
2) I fail sanctify myself through God's truth.
Too often I will go anywhere but God's word for God's truth. Why? Because it is painful. Because too often I find myself wanting in very deep ways against the standards God sets forth. Because God's agenda is so often not the one that I want for my life.
And sanctification? That is for those that are holy, pastors and priests and monks and such. To seek to work on my holiness seems an impossible task, let alone when I will not even go to the God's word in the first place.
But here is the remarkable thing. Notice that John 17:17 does not say "Sanctify yourselves in God's truth". It says "Sanctify them by your truth." Even this sanctification is a work of God. Yes, a work that we participate in as we expose ourselves to God's word (and thus how important that we expose ourselves to God's word!), but none the less some that God does - again, a reminder that without God and Christ's sacrifice, we can do nothing spiritually for ourselves.
Are we of the truth? Do we hear God's voice and seek to work with Him through our lives to make us more holy? Or do we, like Pilate, discount the fact that any sort of truth can exist at all, thereby relieving ourselves of the difficult work of grappling with the truth because it is simply too painful and too hard to consider the fact that there is something beyond ourselves?