33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
“She got him,” my colleague said, somewhat breathlessly. For a couple of semesters my fellow faculty members had suspected that a member of the student body was cheating on exams. Twice he had been confronted but each time he had been able to wriggle out of the charge. But this time, shortly before he was to graduate, he cheated on the wrong exam. The professor was one of the mildest and most caring people you could imagine. She would go to enormous lengths to help a struggling student. Regularly, she was voted by freshman for the “teacher of the year” award which was conferred at the end of the second semester. But beneath her gentle demeanor lies a steely devotion to the truth.
One of the student’s tricks was to change answers on a test after the professor had returned it. He would then to claim a grading error on the part of the professor. Alerted to this ploy, the instructor snapped a picture of the students’ tests before returning them to the class. Knowing the professor’s reputation for compassion for students, the young man tried it again, unaware of the steel trap which was about to close on him.
Our King bears witness to the truth, the truth of our sinful lives and the truth of his forgiveness and salvation. The student wailed and cried, pleaded with the professor that he needed this class to graduate, that his family was coming to graduation, that this surely could be forgotten. He would take the exam again, do extra credit, something. But she is of the truth. There is no bending in that truth. Just as the wages of sin is death, the wages of cheating in college are that you do not graduate.
No amount of wailing will avail us on that last and great day of judgment. Only the truth will save us. The truth which acknowledges who we are and what we have done, but also the truth which acknowledges who Jesus is and what he has done. We will not weasel out of the charge on a technicality. But we will be forgiven for that is also the truth. The young man did not receive a diploma, at least not yet. But he got a much better thing. My colleague spoke to him of forgiveness, not a removal of the consequence of his cheating, but of a far greater thing, the removal of sin before God.