Behold the Man

Written by Nicole Mitchell

Scripture to Read: John 19:1-11

In the first four verses of this passage Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him, and then the soldiers mocked Him and beat Him. Then Pilate goes out to the people and says, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”  Why would Pilate command such a severe and brutal punishment if he thought Jesus to be innocent? Did he hope that it would satisfy the angry crowd? 

Then in verses 5-6, Pilate then presents Jesus to the crowd wearing the crown of thorns and purple robe.  Jesus had been severely beaten and mocked and He would have had spit, sweat and blood all over his body. Do you think that Pilate hoped that the sight of Jesus’ broken body would make the crowd pity Jesus? Pilate said to them, “ Behold the Man!” But did the crowd take pity? No! When the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “ You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” Pilate pronounces again that Jesus is innocent. 

Twice now, Pilate has said to the crowd, “Behold the Man!” In an article of the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies by Jonathan Lipnick he discusses the original Greek translation of “Behold the Man.” It means “Look at the human being,” Pilate wants the mob to actually visually observe Jesus and understand the gravity of what they are asking him to do. The emphasis is on the humanity of Jesus rather than on his masculinity. He is essentially saying, “ He is alive now, and you are asking me to end His life. Are you sure?” The definition of behold means more than just “see”. It is to see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one. It means to look with careful consideration. 

Next, Pilate learns of the true charge against Jesus. “ We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” They wanted Him dead not because He claimed to be King of the Jews, but because He claimed to be the unique Son of God. Pilate was not amused or angered by this response, the Bible says he was more afraid of Jesus than ever. He saw something in Jesus that made him believe that it could be true that the Man before him was more than a man. 

Pilate then asks Jesus, “Where are you from?” Pilate wants Jesus to defend himself, so that Pilate has even more reasons to let Him, who he believes to be innocent, free. Yet Jesus had already answered this question, that He was King of a Kingdom not of this world (John 18:36).  Therefore Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate doesn’t understand this. Why doesn’t Jesus answer? Why doesn’t He beg for His life like all of the other prisoners? 

Jesus and Pilate talk about power. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Pilate cannot believe that Jesus wouldn’t speak up to defend Himself. Pilate felt that he held the power position, and he couldn’t believe that Jesus couldn’t see it. Jesus understood that Pilate had this power, but Jesus explains the true nature of that power. The reality was that God held the power. “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” Pilate could have released Jesus, it’s true, but he relinquished all power to the angry crowd.

How do you see Jesus?  How do you behold Jesus?  Each day we should allow ourselves to be confronted with this question.  Who is Jesus to me?  How do my attitude and the decisions I make reflect who Jesus is to me at this moment?  Am I following my Lord and Savior and seeking His will or am I seeking my own will?  

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