Jesus told Pilate in the trial that led to the cross, "I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice,” to which Pilate answered, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
A few verses earlier, in John 18:31, we read that Pilate told the Jewish authorities that brought Jesus to Pilate to be sentenced to death, “take him and judge him by your own law.” Pilate was not just trying to side step responsibility, but was declaring to the Jewish leadership that they had their own laws, while Rome had theirs. Here in these two verses we discover what was going on in Pilates heart, truth and justice had nothing to do with what would guide his decision.
What mattered to Pilate was not truth, but whatever was expedient to the group of people before him. Another word for this is tribalism. Tribalism basically says that a person’s loyalty is first to their race, religious sect or political party. Tribalism limits its view of truth to the culture and laws of men, rather than the truth of God’s word. It is horizontal in its scope.
Now if you think that America and the West is immune to this kind of thinking, think again. Let me give you a few recent examples from the cities of Minneapolis and Seattle. The city of council of Minneapolis has recently voted to abolish the city’s police force. Their plan is to empower local communities to “self-police.”
Let's forget for a moment how impractical their plan is and just focus on one response in their city. A Muslim leader, Siraj Wahhaj, has already stated that in his section in his city, which is populated by a majority of Sudanese Muslims, already desires to institute Sharia Law to “enforce the fundamentals of the Muslim faith.”
The city of Seattle is far more subtle. As Seattle’s city council and mayor have yet to confront those who literally threw out the police and have taken over six city blocks called CHOP, an undercover journalist reported that in the absence of police, there is now a BLM leader with 5 thugs in a SUV with semi-automatic weapons, roaming the area and “enforcing” their own “laws,” which include unwritten laws that they deem to represent justice.
In both cases, state and federal laws that promise protection over American citizens have been abandoned. City councils and mayors have literally abdicated their responsibility based on their inability to confront tribalism. Their reason ultimately is that they do not believe in absolute truth. They no longer understand the validity of our constitution or worst yet have abandoned it as a guiding document.
The rationale in all of this is you have your laws and we have ours. Absolute and ultimate truth no longer rests on God’s word, but rather it flows from one’s culture and society. While some of the recent phenomena like BLM and Antifa are the exception, more and more lawmakers and judges in the west are embracing this kind of world view.
In John 18:36, Jesus responded this way to Pilate’s tribalism, “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.” The genius of Jesus’ appeal to Pilate is not horizontal, but basically Jesus is saying that ultimately the justice that will be done is of heaven not earth. This is vertical and Godward. Jesus here is not talking about a geopolitical kingship.
What our nation is slowly forgetting is that our independence against the tyranny of a corrupt king, was an appeal to God for justice. The reason the British Crown became excessive in its taxation was because they no longer served the people based on the dictates of God’s word, but pursued their own gain.
If you read the introduction to our declaration of independence, you see our founders appeal to God, not man. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands… which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The heart of our constitution is an appeal to principles and laws that are beyond men and point to God Himself. That is exactly what Jesus did here with Pilate. “My kingdom is from another place.” It is important for us to have burned in our hearts and our minds that that guides our personal lives is not of this world. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not an invention of man, but of God, “my kingdom is from another place.”
It is important for us as Christians to remember that this is what guides our understanding of what is true and just. It is important for us as citizens of one of the freest nations in the world to remember our nation and laws have their foundation in God not man. The day that we forget this will be the day we descend into tyranny and totalitarianism and anarchy.