Behold the Man!
“Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”John 9:1-6 (ESV)
We reflected recently on the opening verses of Hebrews 12- and were encouraged to look to three places in order that we might run our race well. We must look to the lives we are living, to see if there is clutter that needs clearing. We must look to the great cloud of witnesses, who stand cheering us on, reminding us that God is forever faithful to his people and his promises. And lastly, most importantly, we must look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith!
I want, in this article, to reflect briefly on another biblical appeal to look to Jesus.
The crowd are baying for blood. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent, he presents him to the people- flogged, bound and wearing a cruel crown of thorns. Humanly speaking, he must have been a pitiful sight.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”Isaiah 53:3
Pilate appeals to the mob, “Behold the Man!”
And his appeal echoes down through the generations- “BEHOLD the man”, LOOK to Jesus!
To look to him is to take time to not look to ourselves, to not look to the myriad of distractions that surround us, but to fix our eyes on him. It is as we look to Jesus that we see who God truly is. It is as we look to Jesus that we see who we truly are, and how far short we have fallen from God’s glorious standards. It is as we look to Jesus we see the astonishing love of God, that saw him send his Son to seek and to save that which was lost. Do you see? Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind, to breathe life into that which was dead, to satisfy the hungry soul.
Behold the MAN– The Son of God was made man in the incarnation. Truly God and truly man. He was born as a baby in Bethlehem and grew into adulthood in Nazareth in Galilee. He experienced the harsh realities of life lived in this sin-broken world; hunger and thirst and the pain of grief, rejection and betrayal for us. Are you suffering? He doesn’t just care, he understands as one who has suffered himself.
Behold THE Man- Pilate I’m sure never realised quite how profound his words were. Jesus was (and is) not just a man, He is the man. Jesus is the perfect person. The exemplary human being. Man as he was made and meant to be. Perfect in every way. Utterly sinless. Behold the man!!.
And so we watch him there with awe and wonder. Bloodied, bruised and beaten for us, and yet he doesn’t defend himself, he doesn’t call down an army of angels to rescue him.
“He was oppressed and afflicted,Isaiah 53:7
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.”
He humbles himself not only to live for us; a perfect, sinless life. But he humbles himself do die for us. A death reserved for the very worst of sinners.
We behold the man not just paraded before the crowd, but lifted on the cross. We behold him bearing the full weight of our rebellion against God as he suffers and dies. We behold him, as he comes to the end of his earthly mission crying out “It is finished!”
Finished it was. The price had been paid in full. All who turn to him and trust in him are fully and freely forgiven. And yet Jesus’ ministry in another sense goes on. We behold him at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.
Having seen this Jesus, we look to 2021 with all the uncertainty that lies before us, Coronavirus, post-Brexit life, political and personal upheaval, and we say with the apostle Paul:
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…
…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Christ, we have nothing to fear and every reason to rejoice!