by David Sisler
Early in the morning the Jewish religious leaders took Jesus to Pontius Pilate. Because it was the Passover they asked their governor to meet them outside. If they entered the house of a Gentile, they would become ceremonially unclean and be unable to eat the Passover meal.
"He is a criminal," they told Pilate, "but since we are not allowed to pass the death sentence, you must condemn Him." Before the trial ever began, the verdict was known.
Pilate took Jesus inside and questioned Him. Having read the intent of the crowd, Pilate believed a little blood would satisfy them, so he ordered Jesus whipped. Appealing for pity, the governor paraded the criminal, bloodied and bruised. With an imperious wave of his arm Pilate said, "Behold the man!"
Pilate marveled at the silence of Jesus, at His self-command, at the dignity of His bearing. With the hope that the crowd might be similarly impressed, he asked them to demonstrate pity. So he said, "Let the marks of His whipping satisfy your thirst for blood. Behold the man!"
One of the overwhelming characteristics of our world today is the belief in humanism. We believe in man. We do not believe in God.
How do you judge man? At his best or at his worst?
By Red Cross relief workers and Catholic nuns ministering to lepers and hospice volunteers caring for AIDS patients?
Or by maniacs who unleash nerve gas in subways and plant bombs in public buildings and drive explosive-laden cars into crowded buses?
When Pilate said, "Behold the Man," what was he showing us?
Perhaps he had no such intention, but with his simple, yet profound declaration, Pilate showed us man as God intended him to be. Jesus voluntarily entered a violent world, a cruel world, a beastly world, yet He dominated it by the purity of His life and the power of His love.
Jesus fought sin "in the likeness of sinful flesh." "Being found in fashion as a man," He showed us God. "Tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," He lifted us to God. Jesus became what we are so that we can become what He is.
Did Pilate know what he was saying? "Behold this Man, this matchless Man, this Savior of men."
With passions which demonstrated the very worst of man, the accusers of Jesus shrieked, "Kill Him! Crucify Him! Our law says that He should die, because He said He is the Son of God!"
Look at Jesus as He stands there. His back is a mass of raw flesh, lacerated by Roman whips. His face is covered with sweat and blood, His forehead torn by a crown of thorns. With disgust, Pilate spits at the crowd, "Behold your King." With bitter sarcasm he says, "Here is a fitting king for a people like you!"
Instinctively, Pilate knew there was something kingly about this man. Pilate was personally acquainted with Caesar, a friend of Caesar, but here was a king unlike any he had ever met before.
Everything about Jesus was royal and regal. He quietly endured the soldier's taunts and without cursing He received their blows. From the torment of His own agony, He dispensed forgiveness and opened Paradise to a man who grasped at mercy. This is His kind of kingship--not to lord it over men but to minister to them, not to be served but to serve.
As an evangelistic campaign came to a close, the audience rose to sing the great hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." Before they could begin the last verse, the preacher stopped the singing and said, "If you mean the words with all your heart, sing as loudly as you can. If you mean them a little and want to mean them more, sing them very softly." Two thousand men and women whispered: "Were the whole realm of Nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life my all."
To mean them even a little and want to mean them more--that is to really make Jesus King. Behold the man! Behold your King!
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 4/15/95
Copyright 1995 by David Sisler
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