Behold the man!
Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 6:13: “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate.”
New Century Version puts it this way: “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything and of Christ Jesus, I give you a command. Christ Jesus made the good confession when He stood before Pontius Pilate.”
He stands there, unjustly condemned. Severely beaten, bleeding, humiliated, spat upon, ridiculed and rejected.
In spite of all this abuse and injustice he reflects a noble kingly bearing; that mixture of humility, nobility and purity of character.
To the unprejudiced politician Pilate it spells two words: innocence and injustice.
Here is another criminal, Pilate thinks at first – until… until he meets with Jesus.
Let’s follow the conversation between a proud and powerful Pilate and Jesus Christ, the spotless “Lamb of God”; the only pure and innocent human being this world ever saw.
Let’s look what preceded it:
- Celebration of Passover and establishment of communion service, where Jesus humbled Himself and washed the feet of self-seeking disciples, each of them very sensitive about himself
- Prayer in
- Betrayal by Judas, arrest in
- Unlawful night trial before Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas – Jesus struck in His face by a servant
- Trial before Caiaphas and Sanhedrin with false witnesses – Jesus is mocked and abused, sees His close friend Peter denying Him with cursing
- Caiaphas and Sanhedrin condemn Jesus and lead Him to Pilate
Let’s read the story – John 18:28–33 (Read)
Conversation between Pilate and Jesus begins – verse 33 (Pilate’s question: “Are You the King of the Jews?”)
Jesus’ answer – verse 34: “Are you speaking for yourself on this or did others tell you this about Me?”
Pilate’s answer – verse 35: “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
Jesus responds in the language a military politician Pilate understands – verse 36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I would not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Pilate – Jesus dialog – verse 37: “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ 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.’
Pilate recognizes Jesus’ uniqueness and innocence.
Gospel of Matthew tells us that the way Jesus conversed with Pilate, the way He was answering him, or would just be quiet and how He bore Himself under the false accusations made him “greatly marvel”. He never met a Man like that.
John 18:38: “Pilate said to Him (Jesus), ‘what is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all.’
Pilate does not want to condemn an innocent person and when he learns that Jesus is from Galilee he sends him to Herod who is at that time in
- Herod demands miracles from Jesus
- Jesus answers him not a word
- Herod has Jesus mocked, ridiculed and humiliated and sends Him back to Pilate
As many politicians do, Pilate is looking for a way out and offers them a choice of releasing one prisoner. He gives a choice between notorious criminal Barabbas and Jesus.
To his surprise religious leaders and fanaticized crown ask for Barabbas and for the crucifixion of Jesus.
He thinks that he can satisfy their thirst for blood by having Jesus flocked and beaten.
Then soldiers strip Jesus of His clothes, struck Him with their hands, thrust a crown of thorns on His head and abuse and mock Him.
Jesus stands there silent, reflecting the nobility of character and obvious innocence.
It’s too much for Pilate as he presents Him again to the angry crowd – John 19:5:
“BEHOLD THE MAN!”
After Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist twice pointed to Jesus and exclaimed:
“BEHOLD THE LAMB!”
“BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD THAT TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!”
Pilate after meeting Jesus face to face and examining Him exclaims: “Behold the Man!”
Look at this Man! Take a good look at Him! Consider Him! Behold the Man!
Pilate a shrewd military politician knew what he should do – but he washed his hands.
Even his wife after having a dream warned him to “have nothing to do with that righteous Man”. But Pilate compromised his conscience and allowed a criminal go free and the innocent die.
Unknowingly acting their worst, Judas, religious leaders, fanatical mob, Pilate, soldiers, Barabbas or Peter along with cowardly disciples fulfilled God’s purpose.
A thought: If we were alive then and present there we would be found somewhere among them. What part would you and I play?
One thing we would be compelled to do: “Behold the Man”.
Looking to Jesus we see “the Lamb of God”.
Jesus took on Himself your and my sin that crushed His life and broke His heart.
“Jesus was treated as we deserve so we may be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness in which we had no share. By His stripes we are healed.”
Oh, the amazing love of God for us unworthy people!
How petty our grievances, how foolish our arguments, how incomplete our lives, how cold our hearts, how senseless and foolish our squabbles, how carelessly we hurt others and how easily we get offended, how long we hold on our grudges, how childish and immature our thinking, how small our love, how reluctant our extension of forgiveness – oh Lord, when looking at you, standing there before Pilate, being respectful and kind to your worst enemies, praying for those who crucify you – oh Lord have mercy on us!
Turbulent, proud, offending, sensitive under injury, now transformed apostle John at the end of his life writes: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
People, marvel at God’s graciousness! We, the unworthy selfish beings have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb (Isaiah 53), adopted into God’s royal family!
Apostle Paul in his 2nd letter to Corinthians chapter 4:6 says this:
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Through the love of God in Jesus the light of God’s truth and love begins to illumine our ignorance and blindness. It is here that change from within begins to take place.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 he reminds us that it is “by beholding the glory of God”, God’s character in Christ that “we are being changed (transformed) into His own likeness.”
Can we ignore Pilate’s challenge to: “Behold the Man?”
But we need more than a casual once in a while look.
Hebrews 12:1–3 says it so well: “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking (intently focusing, fixing our eyes) on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
(Appeal and prayer)
In case of a communion service, separate for the ordinance of humility.
1 Corinthians 11:23.24: Read – Blessing on bread
1 Corinthians 11:25: Read – Blessing on wine