Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Behold the Man!

Behold the Man!
JN 19:1-16 (March 11, 2018)
As predicted by Jesus a few days earlier, he came up to Jerusalem and was arrested by the Jewish leaders there. And while being questioned, he was seriously humiliated in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council, and then eventually condemned to death for the blasphemy of God by Jewish laws. Then the Jews took Jesus from the house of High Priest Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor, and it was already at dawn.
The Jews wouldn’t go in themselves into the Roman governor’s house because they thought that would defile themselves and that they wouldn’t be allowed to eat the Passover lamb that very night. So Pilate, the governor himself, went out to them to ask, “What is your charge against this man? What are you accusing him of doing?” “We wouldn’t have arrested and brought him to you if he weren’t a dangerous criminal!” they reacted.
Pilate told them, “Then you take him away and judge him yourselves by your own laws.” But the Jews said, “We don’t have power to execute.”
Pilate, unable to keep up the conversation with them, went back into his residence and called Jesus and interrogated him with many questions. After speaking with Jesus, Pilate came out again and made report to the Jews, “He is not guilty of any crime. I will release him now.” Upon hearing the verdict, the Jews again raised their voices, "Release Barabbas instead of this man!" On the other hand, Barabbas was a murderer.
Surprised by the crowd’s rage, Pilate hurried back in and forced his soldiers to scourge Jesus. However, Jesus didn’t open his mouth even though being brutally beaten. Of course, he wouldn’t confess any crime because there was no guilt in him. So there was no chance for any crime to be found in him.
In fact, about the suffering of the Messiah, a long time ago the prophet Isaiah had mentioned:
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. (Isa 53:7, 8)
In the palace of the Roman governor, Jesus was harshly treated by the Roman soldiers and suffered extremely painful. In addition, the soldiers made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head, robed him in royal purple and began mocking him, “Hail, ‘King of the Jews’!” And they struck him in the face with their fists over and over.
However, in spite of such brutal beating and mockery, Jesus looked not ashamed. Rather, he looked calm and his head was lifted high. How could he be so calm in such a moment? The reason is well described by the prophet Isaiah:
I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. (Isa 50:6, 7)
Pilate did not know who Jesus was. And he didn’t know why Jesus was stubbornly enduring such hardships. He did not know anything.
However, the prophet Isaiah introduces the reason how Jesus was so calm even at such pain.
He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. (Isa 50:8, 9)
That's right. Jesus was arrested and punished not because of a crime he’d committed. Instead, he was always blameless. Jesus himself knew it, and God the Father knew it as well.
On the other hand, Pilate, who had tortured Jesus mercilessly, again came out of his residence to tell the people, "I will bring Jesus to you. Yet I have found no sin to accuse him" (JN 19:4). Then when Jesus walked out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate declared, “Behold the man!” (JN 19:5)
At sight of Jesus, the chief priests and other Jews began yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said in return, “Then you crucify him, for I find him not guilty” (JN 19:6).
“Behold the man!”(JN 19:5) It’s Pilate's cry. Jesus was questioned all night long, and was severely beaten and he was in terrible shape, but Pilate demanded the people, “Behold the man!” I do not know whether Pilate knew the true meaning and power of his own words at that time or not?
“Behold the man!” By the way, it was a very important call. It is one of the most crucial calls throughout human history. Not only Pilate himself but also the crowds standing before him and also the whole world, have to behold the man whom Pilate was pointing to. The reason is that only those who behold him can live.
In the wilderness of the distant past, the Israelites who were bitten by a serpent were able to live only by looking at the brass serpent. Likewise, anyone who fell into the temptations of Satan, who drank the poisons of sin, can live only by looking at the man on the tree. In other words, we can live only by looking at Jesus carrying on his shoulders all sins of mankind on Golgotha’s tree.
As we can say a great proclamation was spoken by Pilate for all mankind: “Behold the man!”
in Greek: “Behold (ἴδε, id'-eh)” the (ὁ, ho) man (ἄνθρωπος, anth'-ro-pos)!”; in Latin: “Ecce Homo (에케 호모).”
“Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia Martinez)
Behold the man!” Pilate’s cry is spoken stronger than ever now. We should all look unto the man whom Pilate pointed to. That’s the only way we can live.
We shall look not at someone else but only at “the man.” We shall look at “the man” that Pilate proclaimed to be innocent but condemned. We shall look at “the man” who is never guilty, but has been subjected to mockery and insult, and then crucified on a tree. The reason is that the ridicule, insults, pains, and death that he had to go through were for you and for me.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:5, 6)
Pilate did try to set Jesus free, but at last he failed. So he washed his hands in the basin and handed Jesus over to the Jews while tossing the blame of an innocent man’s death over to them. So Jesus, taken to Golgotha hill, was hung on a tree up there.
But even in enormous pain, Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed for those who crucified himself, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (LK 23:34).
In fact, his prayer was not only for the Jews who crucified him but also for us all who are sitting here. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
It is a divine declaration that “God will forgive our sins.” It is God’s statement to forgive not only those who crucified Jesus, but all sins of mankind. It is an affirmation that God will surely pardon your sins and mine.
Don’t you think we have to live? Don’t you think our family has to live? Our church has to live? Our country has to live? Then how? The solution is this: “Behold the man!” That is, we shall all look unto Jesus. We shall look at the man on the tree for us.
“Behold the man!” Of course, we need to understand exactly who Pilate was pointing to. We need to know who the man is and what power he has for us. And if we know it, we shall look unto him with faith. We shall look unto him with confidence.
After six hours of crucifixion, Jesus cried out and then died. Mark the Evangelist tells of what had happened at that very moment of Jesus’ death as follows: “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (MK 15:37, 38).
That's right. When Jesus gave his last breath, the curtain in the sanctuary was torn. When he died for all mankind, the curtain isolating us from God was ripped from top to bottom. The wall of sin separating us from God has hammered down from the top down. That is why we are now free to walk toward God’s throne in confidence.
The Author of the Epistles to Hebrews introduces us to this beautiful spiritual truth:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:15, 16)
Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), who was a count and legal advisor in Saxony, Germany, was terrified as looking at the picture of “Behold the Man!” in Düsseldorf Museum of Art. It was painted by Domenico Fetti an Italian painter. This picture was of Jesus’ head with a crown of thorns, and beneath the picture, the following was written: “I’ve crowned with thorns for you, but what have you done for me?"
At that moment, Zinzendorf kneeled right there and confessed in prayer, “I’ve said that I love you, Lord, but in fact there is nothing I’ve done for you. From now on, therefore, I will do everything I could, just as commanded by you.”
Since then, he resigned all his public duties and honors, but with strong passion, purity and devotion, he started out a new life that has left a profound impact on German pietism and Moravian mission.
Yes. The response to “Ecce Homo!” makes our lives totally different.
It is still in the season of Lent. Brothers and sisters, in this special season, for us what is more urgent than we are answering to “Ecce Homo”?
“Ecce Homo!” “Behold the man!” Are you looking unto the man now? If so, who is the man to you? And then what will you do for the man from now on?

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