Behold the Man!
James Smith, 1865
"Behold the Man!" John 19:5
The dispensations of Divine Providence, bring out and manifest the nature and disposition of man. But no providence ever did this, like the coming of the Son of God into our world. In His whole life He was holy, harmless, undefiled, full of mercy, clothed with power, and went about doing good. Yet, because He sympathized with God, condemned sin, and required submission to God's righteousness--He was hated, persecuted, and put to death! His judge asked, "What evil has He done?" No reply could be given--but they still clamored for His crucifixion. Hatred to God, and hatred to holiness--lies embedded in the human heart, and under these circumstances--it is clearly brought out. They have scourged Him, crowned Him with thorns, clothed Him with an old purple robe, smitten Him with their hands, and now Pilate brings Him forth, saying, "Behold the Man!"
The object to which our attention is directed, is a MAN. But such a Man as was never seen before. This Man was Jehovah's fellow, or equal. Hence the prophet, speaking as God's mouth, and referring to this very time cries, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord Almighty." In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. That body is the shrine, the temple of Deity. His heart was the throne of Jehovah. It was God manifest in human flesh! He was naturally equal with God--but He voluntarily became our substitute, that He may be our Savior.
He became a man--for us.
He was made under the law--for us.
He kept all the precepts of the law--for us.
He paid the dreadful penalty of the law--for us.
All He did, and all He suffered was--for us; and as our substitute.
Having done and suffered all that the law and justice of God required--He is our Savior: able to save all who come unto God by Him, and determined to save all who put their trust in Him.
He is presented to us in the gospel narrative--as rejected, forsaken, and punished. He was presented to Caiaphas the high-priest, who represented the Jews, and he rejected Him. He was presented to Pilate, the Roman judge, who represented the Gentiles, and He rejected Him. He is therefore, "despised and rejected of men." All His disciples forsook Him and fled. And "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief." What a spectacle! Rejected by men, forsaken by all of His friends, and punished as the substitute of sinners, by His beloved Father.
Let us behold this Man! He exercised all the virtues that could adorn humanity, and all the graces of the Holy Spirit. See His meekness, gentleness, patience, faith, fortitude, longsuffering, pity, and perfect love to God and man. O lovely character! O perfect pattern of holiness!
He endured all the desert of sin. He experienced the essence of suffering. All that was necessary for Justice to inflict on the Representative of myriads of sinners, in order to their eternal salvation--He endured. The cup of sorrow, of agony, of God's curse, was presented; it made Him tremble, it filled Him with distress and trouble; but He took it, and drained it to its very dregs! He conquered all our foes. But this was the hour of the powers of darkness. All the most wicked, powerful, and successful of the fallen spirits, were gathered together--for the last onset. He met them. He engaged with them. He conquered them. He triumphed over them. Blessed Jesus, I would give glory to Your name for conquering my infernal foes!
He answered to all the types of the law, whether offerer, offering, priest, altar, or temple; to all the predictions of the prophets, who wrote of Messiah suffering and dying for the sins of His people; to all the expectations of His saints, for the Savior was now come out of Zion, and one Man had appeared to die for the people. He satisfied God fully, and He should satisfy us. What a wondrous Man! Many remarkable people had appeared before--but none like Him. He stands single and alone. A wonder to all worlds--an object of admiration to saints and angels!
We are all called to BEHOLD Him. Pilate calls; He says, "Behold the man!" His Father calls us; He says, "Behold my servant whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delights!" Himself calls us; for He cries, "Behold Me, behold Me!"
Sinner, behold Him, for He suffers for you.
Seeker, behold Him, He is punished to save you.
Backslider, behold Him, He endures to recover you.
Lukewarm professor, behold Him, He sets an example before you.
Believer, behold Him, and learn to suffer patiently.
Behold--and adore Him heartily.
Behold--and trust in Him implicitly.
My soul, behold the man!
See His grief-stricken countenance, His battered frame, His breaking heart, His bleeding brow; He is enduring all this for you! Behold Him, and do not doubt His love, nor question His veracity, nor fear your foes, nor dread your heavenly Father's wrath! Behold Him, as the proof of God's love to you, as the confirmation of all the promises made to you, as the pledge of all the blessings set before you. Behold, and sympathize with Him, look on the pierced One, and "mourn for Him." Behold, and give yourself afresh unto Him; say anew, "I am the Lord's!" Behold, and crucify your flesh with its passions and lusts. Behold Him until a deep impression is made upon your heart, and the love of sin departs. Behold Him, if tempted to murmur, or complain, or repine at any of the dispensations of Divine Providence. Behold Him, if persecuted and hated of men for the Lord's sake--and learn to endure in silence, without feeling revenge, or indulging an unforgiving spirit. Behold Him, when Satan or the world allures you to sin, or would draw you from your God. Behold Him, when death stares you in the face, and the grave is ready for you. "Behold the man!"
Behold--and love Him more.
Behold--and imitate Him more.
Behold--and serve Him more.
Behold--and have fellowship with Him in His sufferings, that you may be made conformable unto His death.
May the Man of Sorrows be daily before my eye; and may I only look from Him as such, to look forward for His coming in power and great glory. O to see Him descend in the clouds, and all the holy angels with Him, to be caught up to meet Him in the air, and so be forever with Him! What a contrast will there be, between His first and second coming; His cross--and His throne; His crown of thorns--and His crown of glory; as He appeared beside Pilate, before the Jewish rabble--and as surrounded with all the armies of heaven, and all His saints with Him! May I not only see Him--but grace, and enjoy, the triumphs of that day!