“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!”
One of the ways in which God displays His matchless wisdom and sovereignty is in His use of non-believers to articulate stupendous theological truth. God can and does use even His enemies to give witness to Him and His great redemptive work. “I shall see him, but not now:” said Balaam, some 1,400 years before the Savior’s birth, “I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17). Ciaphas, the High Priest in the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, sought to kill Jesus to avoid further Roman oppression. Though his understanding and intentions were not quite right, his wording, if understood properly, expressed profound truth regarding Christ and His supreme sacrifice. “It is expedient for us,” declared the High Priest, “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50). Today’s verse passage quotes Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea who reluctantly handed Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent (John 19:4) and that it was because of envy that the religious leaders sought to destroy Him (Matthew 27:18). By the time Pilate presented Him to the crowd, the Lord had been scourged and beaten (John 19:1-3). His appearance was ghastly, as one thoroughly and brutally victimized (Isaiah 52:14). Perhaps Pilate believed that the crowd would have pity on Jesus. “Behold the Man!” He cried. Unknown to Pilate, His instruction to the crowd was a divine imperative to all humanity. In Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9); He is God manifest in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16), the only One to whom we must look for salvation. “Look unto me,” cried the LORD through His prophet, Isaiah, “and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). In the days of Moses, God sent venomous serpents to afflict His rebellious people. Anyone who was bitten was instructed to look at a brass serpent, which Moses had made and lifted up on a pole. All who looked upon the serpent in faith were healed (Numbers 21:7-8). Jesus identified Himself with this episode. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” said Jesus, “even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Looking in faith to the crucified Christ is not only the antidote to sin and its deadly effects, it is the needed antidote to weariness and discouragement as well (Hebrews 12:2-3). Let us, with renewed love and appreciation, “behold the Man” Christ Jesus, “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).