And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”- John 11:50
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.”- John 18:37
Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”- John 8:32
Caiaphas thought that he was saving the nation when he persecuted Jesus. We often overlook this part but the High Priest believed that he was doing something good and he ended up trying to destroy Life itself.
This is not just the unfortunate paradox of Good Friday, but it is the tragic reality of life. People who desire to lead a happy and free Life are the very ones who engage in a self-destructive lifestyle. These are not your drug addicts or common criminals. Caiaphas and the crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him!” were not such people. They were people who wanted the best things in Life and they ended up destroying the only One who could lead them to Life itself. They were not evil people: they were blind to the Truth. They refused to listen to the Truth.
Pilates asked, “What is the Truth?”-John 18:38
Jesus never answered Pilate. Jesus was not ignoring him. The question was a good question but Jesus did not have an answer to it. For Pilate, the Truth is a “what”. Pilates was expecting a teaching or a a doctrine. However, for Jesus, the Truth is a person. You cannot teach a person to someone. They have to meet the person who know him or her. The Truth is a person.
Until we meet the Truth, we will engage in self-destructive habits. We will settle for false notions of happiness because only Truth can lead to freedom and happiness. When we talk to the crack addicts or the homeless children, as well as adults, they will say that they are the only ones who have freedom. For them, they think true freedom and happiness is being able to do what one pleases. There are some who engage in criminal activities because they want money to buy fancy clothes and have the latest technology. For them, true happiness is having possessions and being respected for what you have. They are no different from your average person except that we can see the self-destructive consequences of their mentality in a clear and distinct way. The affluent are able to hide their self-destructions more effectively. In the gospel account, the religious authorities were walking the path of self-destruction because they believed that the path of happiness was in upholding religious doctrines. Being religious, whether Christian or otherwise, is not a guarantee of the knowledge of Truth. If we believe that the truth is a “what”, then we won’t be able to recognize the Truth that is a “who”.
Today we remember that the Truth was hanging on the Cross. It seems like an irony that the Truth that set us free could not set Himself free. It is a stumbling block and it sounds like foolishness. However, before we receive the Truth, we need to know that Life without the Truth is a life that leads to death. It is a life of self-deceit. It a life that is full of contradictions. Jesus was the Truth that sets us free from our lies and we need to see the consequences of our lies in order to embrace the Truth. The truth is that our lies destroy the very essence of Truth in our midst. However, Truth is greater than the power of lies. In order to discover this, we first have to go to the foot of the Cross.