Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man!
Observe the spirit in which Pilate uttered these words. We discern in them pity for Jesus, whose character was innocent, whose position was sad and grievous, whose attitude was one of calm and patient endurance. Contempt mingled with pity - contempt for a fanatic who deemed himself possessor of the truth, and for a prisoner who held himself to be a King. In the governor's mind was perplexity as to how he should deal with the accused, in whom he felt was something mysterious and unaccountable. Towards the Jews Pilate felt a sentiment of disgust, for he read their motives and despised their malice, even though he knew not how, without danger to himself, to protect his prisoner from his foes. Observe, too, the spirit in which the Jewish rulers and multitude heard these words. They were untouched by the pathos of his position and demeanor, by the Divine dignity of his character, by the appeal of Pilate to their compassion, by any concern for themselves and their posterity as to the consequences of their injustice and malevolence. The same Jesus who was exhibited by Pilate to the people of Jerusalem is set before us who hear his gospel, and these words which the Roman governor employed before the Praetorium are addressed to all to whom the Word is preached: "Behold the Man!"
I. WHOM DO WE BEHOLD?
1. The Man whom God sent into this world - his Representative and Herald, his Anointed One, his only Son.
2. The Man whom, as a matter of history, the Jews, in their infatuation, rejected.
3. The Man whom his own disciples forsook in the hour of his distress.
4. The Man whom the Romans, unconscious instruments of a Divine purpose, crucified and slew.
5. The Man who was destined, as events have shown, to rule and bless the world where he met with a treatment so undeserved. Reading the Gospels as ordinary narratives, gazing upon the figure of the Nazarene as a great figure in human history, we see thus much. But as Christians we are not satisfied to behold him thus. We see in him what the lessons of inspiration and of experience have taught us to see, and what we wish the world to see for its own enlightenment and salvation.
II. WHAT Do WE BEHOLD IN HIM? The Man: more than meets the eye, the ear, far more than Pilate understood by the words he used. We behold:
1. The faultless Man. He alone of all who have appeared on earth claims sinlessness, and is admitted to have been without a stain. ]n his character he fulfilled the law of holiness.
2. The benevolent, self-sacrificing Man. Not only was he without sin; in him was exemplified every active, self-denying virtue. He lived and died for others - for the race whose nature he assumed.
3. The Man, the Mediator, bringing about reconciliation between heaven and earth, introducing the Divine grace and the Divine life into human hearts.
4. Thus the ideal Man, and the Head and Founder of the new humanity. Wonderful is the correspondence between Christ and man as he first proceeded from the plastic hand of the Eternal, between Christ and man as he shall be presented at the last before the Author of his being and his salvation.
III. How SHOULD WE BEHOLD HIM?
1. With sincere interest and concern. Well may the world be asked concerning Christ," Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" etc.
2. With admiration and reverence. The hero-worshipper has often been disappointed in the object of his adoration, in whom he has discovered unsuspected flaws. But the longer we gaze at Jesus, the brighter grows his glory, the more harmonious his perfections.
3. With gratitude and love. To behold him is to remember what he has done, what he has suffered for us, is to cherish towards him those feelings to which in the same measure no other has a claim.
4. With faith and trust, dispositions of the soul which find in him their supreme Object.
5. With consecration and obedience. He who finds it hard to serve God is bidden to behold his Savior as he stood crowned with thorns before his murderers: there is no such rebuke to selfishness and willfulness, no such motive to devotion and serf-denial.
6. With the hope of beholding him more nearly and for ever, not in lowliness and shame, but in beauty transcendent, in glory eternal. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!