When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"
I. WHOM DO WE BEHOLD?
1. The Man whom God sent into this world - his Representative and Herald, his Anointed One, his only Son.
2. The Man whom, as a matter of history, the Jews, in their infatuation, rejected.
3. The Man whom his own disciples forsook in the hour of his distress.
4. The Man whom the Romans, unconscious instruments of a Divine purpose, crucified and slew.
5. The Man who was destined, as events have shown, to rule and bless the world where he met with a treatment so undeserved. Reading the Gospels as ordinary narratives, gazing upon the figure of the Nazarene as a great figure in human history, we see thus much. But as Christians we are not satisfied to behold him thus. We see in him what the lessons of inspiration and of experience have taught us to see, and what we wish the world to see for its own enlightenment and salvation.
II. WHAT Do WE BEHOLD IN HIM? The Man: more than meets the eye, the ear, far more than Pilate understood by the words he used. We behold:
1. The faultless Man. He alone of all who have appeared on earth claims sinlessness, and is admitted to have been without a stain. ]n his character he fulfilled the law of holiness.
2. The benevolent, self-sacrificing Man. Not only was he without sin; in him was exemplified every active, self-denying virtue. He lived and died for others - for the race whose nature he assumed.
3. The Man, the Mediator, bringing about reconciliation between heaven and earth, introducing the Divine grace and the Divine life into human hearts.
4. Thus the ideal Man, and the Head and Founder of the new humanity. Wonderful is the correspondence between Christ and man as he first proceeded from the plastic hand of the Eternal, between Christ and man as he shall be presented at the last before the Author of his being and his salvation.
III. How SHOULD WE BEHOLD HIM?
1. With sincere interest and concern. Well may the world be asked concerning Christ," Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" etc.
2. With admiration and reverence. The hero-worshipper has often been disappointed in the object of his adoration, in whom he has discovered unsuspected flaws. But the longer we gaze at Jesus, the brighter grows his glory, the more harmonious his perfections.
3. With gratitude and love. To behold him is to remember what he has done, what he has suffered for us, is to cherish towards him those feelings to which in the same measure no other has a claim.
4. With faith and trust, dispositions of the soul which find in him their supreme Object.
5. With consecration and obedience. He who finds it hard to serve God is bidden to behold his Savior as he stood crowned with thorns before his murderers: there is no such rebuke to selfishness and willfulness, no such motive to devotion and serf-denial.
6. With the hope of beholding him more nearly and for ever, not in lowliness and shame, but in beauty transcendent, in glory eternal. - T.
Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man.
I. FROM PILATE'S STANDPOINT.
1. He was a Roman, and apart from the interests of the empire, cared little for the creed or worship of the Hebrews. It was no part of his duty to interfere with the religion of the people he was ruling. Provided it did not lead to sedition he was content to let it contemptuously alone. "What is truth?" he asks, "What is it worth? What has it done? Is it worth any one's while risking anything for it? It is power, and not truth we need. Let us have something practical, tangible, and not vain and idle discussions about abstract questions."
2. Pilate is a type of a vast multitude. Like the compilers of an encyclopaedia, they cannot avoid becoming acquainted with the titles of religious subjects, parties, men. Yet if pressed would deliver themselves very much after Pilate's fashion. To offer Christ to men of this character is to "cast pearls before swine." What is the "truth in Christ" to them? He may be "chief among ten thousand," and able to give pardon, and righteousness, and grace, and glory. But He is not money, business. He cannot give social rank, political success; and so they spurn the offer. This man is a sample of Satan's workmanship — the devil's masterpiece. But "what shall it profit a man," &c.
II. FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE JEWS.
1. The guilt of Pilate was great, but it is not for a moment to be compared with that of the high priest. "He that delivereth Me unto thee hath the greater sin." They saw the light and hated it. They knew the truth and rejected it. They could not resist the evidence that Jesus was the Christ; but He was a Christ so different from Him whom they desired that they cried, "Crucify Him!"
2. Here is another and far more perilous standpoint: to look upon Christ and His religion as something to be hated and banished. Let me speak faithfully of the danger of this class. The sin that will banish the perpetrators from the presence of the Lord at His coming is not the sin of Adam. That has been atoned for by the second Adam. It will not be the sin of ignorance. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It will not be any word or deed too heinous to be forgiven; for there is no exception to the gracious offer: "If we confess our sins," &c. But it will be that of rejecting — calmly, wilfully, and persistently — the greatest offer which God has made to us: His Son as our personal Saviour. "He that believeth not," &c.
III. FROM BELIEVER'S STANDPOINT. During the "Reign of Terror" an old French gentleman walked up to the gate of the prison in hope of getting a brief interview with his son, then lying under sentence of death. His name was Loiserolles. As he stood there, the dreaded cart arrived at the prison door. "Loiserolles" was one of the names shouted; and "Here I am, Loiserolles!" was answered suddenly from the crowd. The voice was not that of the young prisoner — asleep at that moment in his cell — it was older, feebler, and a trifle more eager than a prisoner's might be supposed to be. But there was no time or care to make investigation. The father was taken for the son, bound, hurried off, and executed. He died for his boy who was asleep. Not till long afterwards did the younger Loiserolles know at what a sacrifice his life had been purchased. And if we may be allowed to compare small things with great, I would say that the day of our trial and judgment was passed; the morning of our execution had arrived. We, as prisoners of sin, were summoned to receive the death penalty; the sons of men were called. But "I am the Son of Man" was the answer given to the challenge. "If, therefore, ye seek Me, let these go their way." The central truth of our Christianity is the Saviour that died for us and rose again. Can you look upon Jesus in this light? Do you see Him to be your Substitute, Intercessor, Prince, and Saviour? Then you have beheld the Man.
(R. Balgarnie D. D.)
I. HIS HUMANITY attested. His flesh was lacerated, His body bruised.
II. HIS INNOCENCE confirmed. Scourging had elicited no secret crime.
III. HIS MAJESTY revealed. He endured without complaint.
IV. HIS LOVE proclaimed. He suffered stripes that sinners might be healed.
V. HIS DIVINITY suggested. Only a Son of God could have borne Himself so.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
I. WHAT THE ACTORS IN THAT TRAGEDY BEHELD. All the world was in that crowd.
1. Pilate; or what worldliness beheld. A mysterious man — no ordinary criminal. Superstition is never far from worldliness. There was fear in the mind of Pilate at something supernatural at the back of demeanour so strange, placid, and holy.
2. The priests; or what bigotry beheld. Jesus has not respected their traditions and echoed their dogmas; therefore, He is an imposter and blasphemer. There is no hate like priestly hate. Bigotry in the midst of revealed religion is farther from God than heathen worldliness. There was some lingering susceptibility in the breast of Pilate; in the Hebrew priest, none. Pilate saw something which excited both awe and pity. The priests nothing but the hideous creation of their own malignant passions.
3. The mass; or what ignorant resentment beheld. The Christ of their desire was only a more vulgar rendering of the political Messiah of the infuriated priests. Scarcely a week ago, they greeted Him as their King. But there is Jesus, weak, bound, silent, and trampled upon. They saw one who raised their expectations to the highest, and disappointed them. A mob is never so savage as when it conceives itself to be imposed upon by one whom it has made its idol. They therefore join ix the cry, "Crucify Him!"
4. The soldiers; or what heathen brutality beheld. A hardened Roman in the ranks could feel nothing but contempt for a Jewish criminal. Such men could admire and adore a Caesar who could lead them through fields of slaughter to the fame of a Roman victory. They understood that He was a sham king from a district in fanatical and turbulent Galilee.
5. Nicodemus; or what unavowed discipleship beheld. Lack of courage and decision brought no consolation in this dread hour. Little has he risked to avert this tragedy, and he is beginning to feel it.
6. The centurion; or what heathen piety beheld. "The Son of God."
7. Peter; or what the unfaithful apostle beheld. Jesus cast one look on him, but the apostle could encounter that eye no more.
8. Judas; or what the traitor and apostate beheld. From that eye, so downcast, he has often seen look forth the love of God. The memory of that sight is fire unquenchable, the writhing of the worm that never dies.
9. John; or what the disciple whom Jesus loved beheld. He could not look for his tears; but yet he saw what few eyes there witnessed, but what we need to see to-day — our Incarnate and Redeeming God.
10. Mary; or what the mother and the believing woman beheld. How her motherly love and her religious reverence are wounded by the suffering and shame heaped on her Son and Saviour! There are other holy women here. Shame on the men among His followers! Where are they?
II. WHAT WE BEHOLD IN THE MAN OF SORROWS.
1. A man.(1) He was born of a woman. He passed through the life of a little child.(2) In the home of Joseph, at Nazareth, there were many boys and girls. It was no unimportant contribution to the development of our Saviour's wide and sympathetic manhood, that brothers and sisters were the companions of His first years. The temptation in the wilderness was not our Saviour's first nor last trial. His young life had its tests.(3) Our Lord, too, was born in circumstances favourable to the culture of a true manhood. Among the humble poor, and inured to a lowly calling. Men who begin their career at the summit of society do not uncommonly acquire much real fellow-feeling with classes which lie farther down. Men from the ranks, who have lived through the grades in their ascent, develop human sympathies deeper and broader. Every great worker for God and humanity has to be brought by some means or other into personal contact with the multitude. Galilee was a more important school than the halls of the Rabbis at Jerusalem.(4) Jesus had His personal friendships. He is beneath a man or above him, who is without human friendship.
2. A tempted man (Hebrews 4:15). One with the form and the faculties of a man, is yet not a man if without temptation.
3. A suffering man. That pain is allotted to sinful creatures is not surprising. But here is one who never transgressed a precept. He suffered with the race and for the race which He came to save. But the ministry of suffering must come to every man. We bring into the world only raw materials. The discipline of life must weave the precious fabric. The suffering Jesus garnered in His sinless humanity the precious fruits of trial and sorrow (Hebrews 2:10). When your soul is bowed down, to which friend would you go in your sorrow? You could not repair to inexperienced amiability and to goodness unruffled by trial. A bosom so smooth has not treasured the balm of fellow-feeling for which the smitten heart aches to its very core.
4. THE MAN. Jesus is the only one who can be so styled. He is the perfection of humanity. Human beings at the best are a mixture of good and evil. Jesus Christ was "separate from sinners." He belonged to a totally different classification. He has more than every man's excellence, and exhibits no man's defect. Qualities seemingly opposite and irreconcilable were habitually blended in Him. The extreme of ease and dignity, loftiness and condescension, gentleness and severity, manly firmness and womanly sympathy, &c.
5. Is He man only? Nay, verily. Standing alone as a creature, no one can be complete as a man. One only perfect Man has been in our world, and He was the Incarnation of God.
(H. Batchelor.)I. THE FALSE AND IMPIOUS ASSUMPTIONS RESPECTING THE LORD, WHICH THE JEWS, IN CONNECTION WITH HIS EXHIBITION TO THEM, INDULGED. They regarded Him —
1. As mean, when He was eminently dignified.
2. As guilty, when He was absolutely innocent and holy.
3. As being hostile to their interests, when He was infinitely kind and benevolent.
II. THE RIGHTFUL TRIBUTE WHICH THE EXHIBITION OF HIM IN HIS TRUE CHARACTER MUST ALWAYS SECURE. "Behold the Man!" and there ought to be —
(J. Parsons.)I. WHOM THE WORLD DESIRED. This is He of whom the prophet spake — "the desire of all nations shall come." At the Fall, preparations were begun for the advent of the Deliverer, and continued without intermission.
1. We all know in general what forms these preparations assumed: how the early promise of Eden was brightened and enlarged; how sacrifice was instituted at the very gates of Paradise; how a great system of type and shadow succeeded pointing to Him; how the law became a schoolmaster leading unto Him; how prophets foretold His sufferings and glory.
2. While thus instructing them so carefully in spiritual things, He was also conducting them providentially, and was making the lessons of their outward life — the mercies and the judgments, the wars and the captivities, the declensions and revivals of their national history — to co-operate with the things more expressly gracious, in preparing a way for "the Messenger of the covenant," and in preparing the mind and heart of the Church, to give Him a loving and loyal welcome. Accordingly, we see a grand procession of joyful worshippers at the opening of the New Testament history — angels, shepherds. Simeon and Anna, and the wise men.
3. In the outer world, also, God was working by Him providence and Spirit to prepare the nations for the coming of His Son. We behold a succession of rising and falling monarchies, of dreadful battles, the building and the burning of cities, the terrors of superstition, constant strange movement, but never to any "dawning of the day," and man, as man, felt more deeply as time rolled on the moral hopelessness of his condition without celestial help. There was thus a yearning for deliverance, a longing in the hearts of men for relief, and liberty, and higher life — for recovery of long-lost fellowships, and for returning presence of God. Then, in the fulness of time, He comes to answer the world's questionings, to relieve its sorrows, to meet its deepest wants, "Behold the Man" whom all other men in their best moments were yearning for and inly pining to see! How strange then that we have to say —
II. WHOM THE WORLD CRUCIFIED.
1. If ever there was an act in which this whole world was united, the crucifixion of the Son of God was that act. It was the fair outcome and expression of its moral dispositions, and its spiritual state before God. It was not without a struggle that it was done; there were many relentings and misgivings, just as there are now to men when they sin. In following the steps of His pilgrimage and ministry, we sometimes think that the world is going to open its heart and receive Him at once. But how fallacious such appearances! The world, thus put on its solemn trial, failed to prove itself truer and brought out before other worlds the most conclusive proof of its depravity and guilt. "The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." One who "did no sin," who missed no opportunity of doing good and glorifying God — was not suffered to live. There was much to attract in His life and character, but, as the event proved, there was more to repel; and humanity, which had fallen before in the first Adam, fell again just before it rose in the second. Christ was "the desire of all nations" before He came, and that proved that man had not fallen into an irretrievable degradation — that seeds and elements of good were working in him still, and that the great Father was not forgetful of His prodigal children. Christ was the rejected of all nations when He came, and this proved that our fall was not a temporary and a trifling circumstance, but that it had rent the most sacred bonds, and filled human nature with guilt and sin.
2. But oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! The world crucified His Son, and He made that very crucifixion the means of the world's life. The same event which proved the sinfulness of our nature as nothing had ever proved it before, turned full upon the world in sudden revelation the love and mercy of God; and what to our natural judgment would have seemed the most impregnable of barriers in the way of our return to God, was made the means of our repentance, and the gate of everlasting life. He vindicated Divine righteousness while proclaiming Divine mercy; He honoured the law by making the gospel.
III. WHOM THE WORLD WILL CROWN. Heaven has crowned Him already.
1. But earth must crown Him too. And she will. He must be honoured in the very scene of His humiliation. He must gather joys where He sowed tears and sufferings. He must claim a kingdom where He shed His blood. And not a murmur of dissent will be heard from shore to shore as proclamation is made through every land that "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ."
2. We neither know exactly how nor when this great result is to be brought about; the times and the seasons are reserved in the Father's power. But what of that? If I cannot tell the length of the prophetic days, am I to hope or labour any the less earnestly for that blessed day of millenial peace and joy which, when they have elapsed, will come? It I cannot interpret aright the sound of one angel's trumpet, am I not to speed "another angel who flies in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach."
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)I. WHOM? The Man — perfect humanity.
1. Physically, Christ was perfect —(1) In form. It is not without significance that He is the principal figure in art, and that the world's great painters have depicted Him as "the altogether lovely." We have no portrait of Him extant, but it is difficult to believe that the genius of eighteen centuries has nothing corresponding to its ideal.(2) In health. He bare our sicknesses, but was never ill Himself. No disease could prey upon a sinless body. What vigorous health must Jesus have had to have maintained such unruffled calmness and nerve, through these protracted proceedings, after the agony of Gethsemane; and then after such sufferings to have survived to die on the Cross.
2. Intellectually.(1) He was without doubt. He had perfect intuitions of God and Divine things. Hence the perfect confidence with which He moved towards each of the phases of His great career.(2) He was without error. He had perfect knowledge of all things that pertained to His mission. Hence He never made a mistake, or failed to deliver a necessary truth.(3) He was "the Truth" personally. Compare Him with others.
3. Morally.(1) He was without sin, as confessed by Himself, Pilate, Judas. Peter tells us He "did no sin." John, that He "had no sin."(2) He was entirely holy. Not only was there no law broken by Him: He fulfilled all righteousness.(3) He was utterly self-abnegating and benificent. "He went about doing good." "Greater love hath no man than this," &c.
II. IN WHAT CHARACTER.
1. As a Saviour. Had He not been a man He could not have qualified Himself for this office by death. Had He not been the Man, the Man appointed, perfect, Divine, His death had been of no avail. But being "without blemish," He was the accepted "Lamb of God that taketh away," &c.
2. As an example. Students require the best models in art, music, literature. Perfect imitation may be beyond reach; but the study of imperfect models infallibly ensures imperfection. So with man. But there is only one perfect Model — Him who left us an example that we should follow His steps.
3. As a Friend. Who possesses such qualifications for friendship as Christ?
4. As Lord.
1. Under conviction of sin — "To whom shall we go?"
2. In trouble.
3. In difficulty.
4. In the hour of death.
5. In the day of judgment.
(J. W. Burn.)
Congregational Pulpit.The hour of the Saviour's sufferings was come — Judas had betrayed Him — His disciples forsaken Him — His enemies apprehended Him — but Pilate seeks to release Him; hence the scene before us. Let us inquire —
I. WHAT WE SHALL BEHOLD IN THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.
1. The perfection of purity, meekness, and benevolence.
2. An amazing work for the redemption of mankind.
3. The boundlessness of the Father's grace.
II. THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH WE ARE TO BEHOLD THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.
1. That our hearts may be melted into contrition.
2. That wavering faith may be established.
3. That Christian principle may conquer carnal policy.
4. That love may be cherished towards all His followers.
5. That believers may be comforted in suffering and in death.
I. AN APPEAL FOR PITY FOR CHRIST. It was this; not a mocking. Pilate was anxious to get Christ off. It was not to aggravate Christ's misery, but to excite the compassion of His foes. Pity —
1. For a prisoner.
2. For a prisoner unjustly accused.
3. For a prisoner whose sufferings and shame men enhanced by cruel mocking. Dressed up as a king. And yet He was one. Men can only caricature the reality of Christ and Christianity.
II. AN APPEAL FROM PILATE TO THE JEWS.
1. From Pilate.
(1) (2) (3) 2. To the Jews — (1) (2) (3) III. AN APPEAL FROM ONE WHO NEVERTHELESS PUT CHRIST TO DEATH. Pilate did his utmost to save Jesus, with one exception, his own interest. He tried by expression of his own conviction, by delay, by solemn acts, by appeal to justice and to pity. He would not endanger self. So now men may feel for Christ — do much for Him — reprove others, and yet stop short at sacrifice. — 1. Of worldly interests. 2. Of sinful lusts. (A. J. Morris.)
(2) (3) 2. To the Jews — (1) (2) (3) III. AN APPEAL FROM ONE WHO NEVERTHELESS PUT CHRIST TO DEATH. Pilate did his utmost to save Jesus, with one exception, his own interest. He tried by expression of his own conviction, by delay, by solemn acts, by appeal to justice and to pity. He would not endanger self. So now men may feel for Christ — do much for Him — reprove others, and yet stop short at sacrifice. — 1. Of worldly interests. 2. Of sinful lusts. (A. J. Morris.)
(3) 2. To the Jews — (1) (2) (3) III. AN APPEAL FROM ONE WHO NEVERTHELESS PUT CHRIST TO DEATH. Pilate did his utmost to save Jesus, with one exception, his own interest. He tried by expression of his own conviction, by delay, by solemn acts, by appeal to justice and to pity. He would not endanger self. So now men may feel for Christ — do much for Him — reprove others, and yet stop short at sacrifice. — 1. Of worldly interests. 2. Of sinful lusts. (A. J. Morris.)
2. To the Jews —
1. Of worldly interests. 2. Of sinful lusts. (A. J. Morris.)
1. Of worldly interests.
2. Of sinful lusts.
(A. J. Morris.)