JOHN 18-33-38

Rev. Betsy Scheuerman
Unitarian Universalist Church, Meadville, PA

Scripture: John 18:33-38

Then Pilate entered his headquarters again, and summoned Jesus. "Are you the ruler of the Jews?" he asked.

Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"

Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own people and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"

Jesus answered, "My realm is not of this world. If my realm were of this world, my police would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my realm is not from here."

Pilate asked him, "So you are a ruler?"

Jesus answered, "You say that I am a ruler. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world: to witness to truth. Everyone being of truth hears my voice."

Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Focusing Quotation:

Jesus answered, "... For this I was born, and for this I came into the world: to witness to truth. Everyone being of truth hears my voice."

Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”


I feel an uncomfortable kinship with Pilate. He is the voice of reason, logic, science. Asking questions, trying to figure things out, trying to make sense of this person Jesus, seeking to order his world. He inquires—maybe plaintively, maybe philosophically:“What is truth?”

The question goes unanswered.

It is a question I too have asked, searching for an answer that eludes me.

Psychotherapist and writer Thomas Moore has pointed out that in the Greek, the word translated as truth might be more accurately translated as “un-forgetfulness” or “un-concealment.” Its root comes from the mythological river Lethes: that river of oblivion or forgetfulness in the Underworld, from which the dead would drink, so as to forget their earthly existence.

Read this way, Jesus is a figure calling me to listen. I need to hear—really hear--the cawing of crows, the rustle of wind, the barking of dogs, the cries and the laughter of people around me, even, the beating of my own heart, the longings of my soul. In all these sounds of life there is the voice of the Holy.

Jesus disrupts my expectations, rouses me from oblivion. “WAKE UP”, I imagine him saying. He reminds me to drink of the living water, not the water of the dead.

Some years ago, I saw a movie called Waking Ned Devine. Ned Devine was a bighearted elderly Irish villager who died alone—holding a multimillion-pound-winning lottery ticket in his hand. What I remember of that movie is one scene: that of a scrawny elderly man riding a motorbike stark naked—desperate yet exhillarated. Just recalling the sight makes me laugh. The naked cyclist and the other villagers are roused from their deadly routines by the grace of the dead Ned Devine, and the gift he left—just for the taking! As the townsfolk bring Ned Devine back to seeming life, they are really the ones who have waken from the dead. They have been shocked into lives of risk, connection, common purpose, community, and love.

This is the way that God wants us to live, I think. This is the way of Jesus.

Maybe, just maybe, it is time for me to ride naked, unashamed and at full throttle.

Prayer: (variously attributed)

Lead me from death to Life, from falsehood to Truth.
Lead me from despair to Hope, from fear to Trust.
Lead me from hate to Love, from war to Peace.
Let Peace fill our heart, our world, our universe. Amen