“What is Truth?”

“What is truth?”

It’s such a striking question. What is truth? In a world full of postmodern relativism, in which truth is merely an observation or an opinion or maybe even a feeling, perhaps it is the most important question that we can grapple with.

“What is truth?”

It is also the question that Pontius Pilate gives to Jesus. Not because Pontius Pilate is interested in what Jesus has to say. He couldn’t care less. No, Pontius Pilate only asks that question to Jesus to shut Him down. To end the conversation. To dismiss everything that Jesus has said.

To dismiss Jesus Himself.

“What is truth?”

Looking at the gospel account which describes the stand-off between Pontius Pilate and Jesus, and this becomes clear. Jesus Christ is talking to Pontius Pilate about His mission, the reason why He was sent to this world. Jesus is to testify for the Truth. And yet, look at Pontius Pilate’s retort.

“What is truth?”

And perhaps that’s why I love this artwork, which illustrates this exchange between Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ during this epic scene:

"What is truth?", " by Nikolay Nikolayevich, c. 1890. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
“What is truth?”, ” by Nikolay Nikolayevich, c. 1890. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

In this picture, Jesus Christ looks thin and small in contrast to Pontius Pilate’s figure, which is imposing, bulbous, and arrogant. In fact, Pontius Pilate seems to take over most of the scene.

And yet… though Jesus might be smaller than Pontius Pilate, He is no weakling. In His eyes, there seems to be a fierce defiance. He is not afraid to stand up for the Truth.

After all, Jesus is Truth.

Sometimes, it can seem like when we stand up for our beliefs, we face the whole world. And we often feel small and weak compared to the world. The world tempts us with comfort; our faith asks us follow Jesus, no matter what. The world tempts us with riches; our faith urges us be content with what we already have and to share what we have with each other. The world tempts us with grandeur; our faith promises us the Cross.

Let this picture remind us that we are not the first to stand up against the world for our beliefs. And, when we do stand up against the world for our beliefs, let us have faith! After all, we mustn’t fear.

We are following the path of Christ.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

One thought on ““What is Truth?”

  • September 27, 2018 at 1:02 am

    It so happens that I began to reread “The Master and Margarita” yesterday, and am in the middle of the chapter that recounts the same episode. In this book Pilate is surprised by the answer to his question, and wonders if Jesus can cure his ills. Even so, and in spite of his own anguish, he is trapped by what he must do and condemns Jesus to death. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author Mikhail Bulgakov was inspired by this painting.


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