Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man!
I. PILATE'S MEANING. He meant that a very little thing frightened the priests and elders and their sympathizers. He invited them to look at Jesus, with the. thorny crown encircling his brows, and the purple robe - doubtless some tattered and outworn piece of costume thrown over his shoulders. Surely if Jesus were indeed a King, if his royalty was in power as well as in word, all this mockery would have brought the reality out.
II. THE ACTUAL RESULT OF THIS TREATMENT. Pilate meant that Jesus should appear utterly contemptible. Little did be dream how in course of time a vast multitude of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, would respond to this summons, and count Jesus King all the more, just because of the crown of thorns and the purple robe. It was Pilate, not Jesus, who was to become ultimately contemptible. The very Jews themselves could not look on things with Pilate's eyes, and Pilate even could not keep straight on in the tone of scorn and contempt. A few verses later we read of him being afraid. And we, as we leek back on this scene, with all its manifestation of beautiful character, may almost feel as if we owed Pilate's memory a debt of gratitude. The soldiers did something which no disciple of Jesus would wish to have been done; but, being done, every disciple of Jesus is glad for what it showed. The work of coronation, if looked at in the proper light, was a most real one.
III. WE MUST BEHOLD, NOT JESUS ONLY, BUT THE MEN WHO TREATED HIM SO. The men into whose hands Jesus was delivered up were to have their own way without let or hindrance. Men had full opportunity to show how bad they could be. Pilate points to Jesus and says, "Behold the Man!" God points to Pilate and the priests, and says, "Behold mankind!" These men were not specially bad specimens of humanity, but just average expressions of the spirit of the world. But in the very contrast between Jesus and his tormentors there is hope and joy. For if the tormentors are of the same flesh and blood as we are, so also is Jesus. Jesus, the thorn-crowned, always gentle, always harmless, always beneficent, always far above everything that is selfish and resentful, is of our race. We should never look at any of the degrading specimens of humanity without looking also at Jesus. For then we keep the just mean between saying too much and too little. We shall both remember how much better Jesus is than the best, and how patient and pitiful he is with the worst.
IV. WE MUST BEHOLD THE MAN IN ALL HIS MANIFESTATIONS. On the cross. After his resurrection. To Paul on his way to Damascus. To John in Patmos. In glory, as in humiliation, the man is still evident. With whatever brightness the Divinity may shine, it cannot conceal the humanity. Here is the man we ought to be; here is the man we shall be. There can be no true knowledge of human nature without the knowledge of Jesus; and the more we know of him, the more shall we know of ourselves. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!