“What is truth”… Pilate’s question to Jesus rings out to us through the centuries. Jesus tells Pilate that every one who belongs to the truth, listens to him. And so, Pilate asks him, “what is truth?” Pilate answers his own question two different times: the first time is when he brings Jesus out to show him to the crowd and says “Here is the man”, and the second time is when he puts the charge against Jesus on the sign that reads “King of the Jews”. It seems that Pilate may have known more about the truth than he thought.

Indeed… here is the man. Here is the man who was at once perfect man and perfect God. In this man Jesus, dwells perfect love, perfect reality and perfect truth. Pilate, like so many of us, grasped the concept only fleetingly. When pressed by worldly concerns that produced fear or threatened his grasp on earthly power, Pilate ultimately succumbed to his sinful human self and had perfect love and perfect truth crucified. Destroying Jesus would keep Pilate safe and keep him in power. If he treated Jesus as a criminal threat against the empire, other authorities would follow his lead and support the death of this trouble maker, this truth teller.

It is absolute madness that a man condemned to die by crucifixion would become the event of salvation for all. And yet, God takes all that is evil, all that is death dealing, and has it nailed on a cross, embraced by Jesus. In Jesus we see what it looks like to have God and man dwell together. By embracing our lives, our sorrows, all that is evil in our lives, and yes, even our deaths, Jesus takes all of it to the cross with him. Even today, in the darkness of this day when it looks as though evil has triumphed, love and truth are victorious. It hardly seems possible. As Mary watches her son die, I can only imagine that she remembers Simeon’s words spoken so long ago when she brought her infant son to the temple. “This child, is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel… and a sword will pierce your own soul too…” How many nights did she lie awake wondering what he meant? And now, she gazes upon her son, dying and in pain, being murdered as a criminal against the empire, as he draws the whole world into his embrace and into the life of God. Here is the man, son of Mary, friend of Peter and John, the one in whom all hope was placed; here on a hill called Golgatha, and that is where God chooses to meet us. Here in this place of fear and death is where God reveals ultimate love and ultimate truth. It is in this place of human shame that God joins God’s self to humanity forever. Even in this dark and evil place, love and truth are gifts given to us by God. Gifts that we can never earn, gifts that will always be given, regardless of who we are. So now with Mary, we stand at the foot of the cross and gaze upon her beloved son. The sword that has pierced Mary’s soul pierces our souls as well, as Jesus gives his final breath. Today the chasm between heaven and earth has been crossed; today, God joins with us in all that we are. Today, perfect truth and perfect love have been put to death in the hope that the empire might triumph. Today, while the earth becomes still as death, we like his mother and friends, stare in amazement, numb with grief, wondering how it could have all gone so horribly wrong. Today, we ask Pilate’s question, “what is truth” and will we find that our answer is the same as Pilate’s. “Here is the man… Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”