Easter Meditation: Behold the Man!

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The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Christians still remain in the world as salt and light. The creation testifies to the glory of God. Everyone, saved and unsaved, has a conscience. God does not presently permit mankind to be as depraved as possible. He also promotes good in our world in the form of kindness, compassion, and charity.

Pilate is an example of an unsaved, pragmatic leader who wants to do the right thing when faced with what he deems is an impossible situation. He believes that Jesus of Nazareth is innocent. He has done nothing worthy of a death sentence. He worked hard at advocating for the our Lord. When he could not overcome His enemies, he still looked for a way to release Him. Maybe the enemies would be satisfied if Pilate scourged Jesus within an inch of His life. Presenting Jesus before them arrayed in the mocking robes of a king, all bloodied and beaten, he said, “Behold the Man!”

Why does Pilate do this? He cannot dismiss the Jewish religious leaders without putting himself and his position in jeopardy. But he still has hopes of releasing Jesus. The presentation of Jesus after His beating was designed to invoke sympathy in His fellow countrymen and shame them for their unreasonable hatred toward Him.

Once people see Jesus beaten, bloodied and bowed, perhaps they will relent. Once they see the end of their hatred, perhaps they will have compassion because of the undeserved pain and suffering they have caused Him. An expansion of Pilate’s thoughts are in order: “Behold the Man! You have demanded that I crucify Him. I have told you over and over again that He has done nothing worthy of death, but you maintain that He has. I have scourged Him and still find no fault in Him. Even if He has broken your laws, surely He has suffered enough for it. Be satisfied! Don’t make me go through with what you’re asking me to do. Behold Him! Where is your compassion? Won’t your anger dissipate? Behold the Man!”

Pilate gives voice to Jesus’ defense before His persecutors. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the LORD has inflicted in the day of His fierce anger” (Lamentations 1.12). Yet, they will not hear Pilate’s advocacy or anyone else’s. “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness’ I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none’ and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69.20).

There is no sympathy in Jesus’ enemies. There is no shame either. Jesus is a rebel as far as they are concerned. Pilate presents Jesus to His blood-thirsty detractors hoping to convince them that such a gentle and lowly man is no agitator or zealot. Even His closest disciples and friends had deserted Him. No one advocated for Him save Pilate himself. “Behold the Man! How can you say that He is a threat to you or to Rome. There is nothing special about this Man. Yet you fear Him. You are jealous of this Man? You want to put this Man to death? Even if He had influence over the nation in the past, how could He ever hope to gather a following again after all that has happened to Him on this day? Leave this Man be. He is no longer a threat. Behold the Man!”

Pilate views the nation’s religious leaders with contempt. They pursue a dead dog …a flea. The scribes and Pharisees had connived and planned for this day. They would not let it pass. They would not be satisfied until Jesus was crucified. If Pilate did not comply, they would make him an enemy of Caesar. “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (John 19.12).

“Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them [other religious detractors of Jesus Christ], ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11.49-51).

Caiaphas unwittingly prophesied of the saving benefits of Christ’s death when he intended simply to recommend the execution of a trouble-maker. Pilates desire is to save the Man who would save him by His death. Even Pilate’s wife understood Jesus was a just man. She advised her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27.19).

Behold the Man!

  1. Behold the Man and gain confidence! The sheer weight of fulfilled prophecy indicates that Jesus is the Christ. Was this Man treated with contempt by the whole nation? Was this Man mocked, reviled, and spit upon? Was He beaten with many stripes? Search the Scriptures. If it is so, then He must be the Christ. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before it’s hearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53.7). He could have called 10,000 angels to defend Him and obliterate us. But then prophecy would not have been fulfilled. Our redemption would not have been secured. If He endured this for us while we were yet enemies, what will he not do for us when we beg for His mercy?
  2. Behold the Man and gain gratitude! The love of Christ is past finding out. A finite mind cannot comprehend an infinite love. We desire to know the love Christ which passes knowledge, but we cannot plumb the depths of such love. But what we do find out and experience, leaves us grateful. “Behold the Man!” A crown of thorns, a reed for a scepter, a royal robe, and blood flowing down. He is ready to lose consciousness. He carries our shame and contempt. He demands more than lip-service from us. He will win our heart if we behold the Man.
  3. Behold the Man and gain motivation! If you love Christ, keep His commandments. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14.21). “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15.14). People sought to make Jesus king, but he refused. He hid Himself from His would-be subjects. They desired a bread-king. But when they mocked Him and plated a crown of thorns for Him, He submitted willingly to this. Why? It was because such submission would set us free to love and worship God. It would free us to exalt, honor, and worship God. We would say, “Behold the Man!” We would say it with new meaning and perspective. He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself. He endured the cross, despising the same. We follow Him and bear His reproach. He gave Himself for us, to purchase a people who would be zealous of good works. Let Christ be magnified in our body, whether it be by life or by death! Behold the Man!

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 4)

The Seven Great Men of Genesis

  1. Abel – a man of spiritual desire.  This is a contrast to Cain, a man of earthly desire.  Cain was a tiller of the ground with earthward interests and holdings.  Abel was a keeper of sheep, a tent-dwelling pilgrim desiring something beyond.  Cain goes out from the presence of the Lord and busies himself with cities and with works in brass and iron.  Abel reaches for better things, seeking rest in God; suffering and dying in hope of the better resurrection (Hebrews 11.16).
  2. Enoch – a man who walked with God.  Behind the walk was the will.  Enoch’s will was God’s will.  Two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3.3).  Enoch agreed with God.  He made this choice to fellowship with God and walk with God.  Enoch went God’s way; God did not come Enoch’s way.  He was a dedicated man of spiritual choice.
  3. Noah – a man of spiritual renewal.  Noah’s story begins as a man of spiritual choice on the ground of the old world (Genesis 6).  He is separated from the old world in the ark and by the flood waters (Genesis 7).  He then goes forth into a new life in a new world (Genesis 8-9).
  4. Abraham – a man of faith.  He trusted in God’s guidance, believed in God’s promises, received God’s assurances, inherited God’s blessing, underwent difficult testing, and was accounted righteous through faith as a friend of God.
  5. Isaac – a man of sonship.  Isaac is a son of special promise, special birth, special preciousness, the only son of his mother, and the only heir of his father, the son through whom promises are realized.  A special bride is chosen for him.  He dwelt in the land of inheritance, biding by thBaxtere wells of water, with many joys and few conflicts, we see in him the privileges and joys of sonship.
  6. Jacob – a man of service.  Jacob is the worker throughout, busy with his hands.  He struggles to obtain the blessing.  He is touched by God and becomes the prince of prayer.  He is spiritual at heart.  He is eager in his activity, work, and service.
  7. Joseph – a man of suffering and glory.  Faith, sonship, and service blend together in his life.  Joseph is made perfect through sufferings.  

These seven men are set apart by the writer of Hebrews as great men of faith (see Hebrews 11).

Suggestions to Study these Seven Men:

    

  1. Study them biographically.  Note dominant features and determining crises.  Illustrate and apply.
  2. Study them spiritually.  Which transcending truths enlighten the mind?  Which transcending truths regulate the life?
  3. Study them prophetically.  Baxter suggests the following prophecies within Genesis:  Christ (3.14-15); Earth (3.17-18; 8.21-22); Race (9.25-27); Israel (13.14-17; 22.15-18); Nations and tribes (17.19-20; 25.23; 48.17-20; 49.1-28).
  4. Study them dispensationally.  A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.  Baxter numbers seven in Scripture and four in Genesis:  1) Innocence in which God tests man; 2) Conscience in which God suffered man; 3) Human Government in which God restrained man; 4) Promise in which God wrought for man.
  5. Study Genesis geographically, critically, and textually.

Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 3)

BaxterDefining Old Testament Types

Any person, object, event, act, or institution (e.g., ceremony, office, structure) divinely adapted to represent some spiritual reality, or to prefigure some person or truth to be later revealed.  God invests these things “with a prefigurative meaning, so that besides having a real relationship with their own times they have had a significance reaching far forward into the future.”

  • Stated in the New Testament.
  • People:  Adam and Melchizedek (Romans 5.14; Hebrews 7.3)
  • Objects:  Rock and the first tabernacle (1 Corinthians 10.4; Hebrews 9.8-9)
  • Events:  Noah’s deliverance and Abraham sacrificing Isaac (1 Peter 3.21; Hebrews 11.19)
  • General parallels:  1 Corinthians 10.6; 1 Corinthians 10.11; Hebrews 10.1; the discourse on bread (John 6); “Letter” vs. “Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3-4); Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4); Melchizedek and Aaron (Hebrews); The Brass Serpent; Jonah spending three days in a great fish; Christ as the Passover, Firstfruits, Mercy Seat, and Lamb; Joseph and Jesus.

Baxter points out that the “one all-sufficient authority for Old Testament typology is the clear warrant of the New Testament.”  This is extremely important.  Interpreters have vivid imaginations.  Often, they see types where they do not exist.

Values of Typology

Allegorical and mystical interpretations carried to foolish extravagances are unsupported by the New Testament.  However, there is value in the study of a genuine type.  Baxter likens such study to giving “colour and fulness and vividness of presentation which cannot be given in direct, unfigurative prediction …No Old Testament [type] should be dogmatically asserted to be a type without clear New Testament warrant.”

Principles of Interpretation

Precautions

  1. No doctrine or theory should ever be build upon a type or types independently of direct teaching elsewhere in Scripture.  Types illustrate; they do not formulate.  They are dependent, and must not be used independently to authenticate doctrine.
  2. The parallelism between type and antitype should not be pressed to fanciful extremes.  They enrich and illuminate our understanding.  As with the interpretation of a parable, one must not carry insignificant minutiae into a degenerative interpretation through imaginative allegorizing.

Baxter lists several examples of types in Genesis, but then does not defend them.  However, he does elaborate upon two examples:

  1. Flood Survivors:  A Type of the Church
  2. Joseph:  A Type of Christ

Baxter could have chosen clear examples, but he did not.  I might draw parallels from the above examples.  However, strictly speaking, they are not types even by Baxter’s definition (which I think is sound).  The value of this lesson is found not in Baxter’s examples but in his principles and precautions concerning typology and the Scripture.

One clear type in Genesis is Adam with the Lord Jesus Christ.  This type is defensible from Romans 5.

Making Your Marriage a Goldmine

Doug Lowery spoke of the precious nature of marriage by comparing it to gold.  There are five qualities required for our marriages to be golden:

  1. Each must remain true to their PROMISE.  William Bennett attended a wedding where the groom and bride vowed to remain together “as long as love shall last.”  Bennett said, “I sent paper plates as my wedding gift.”  Marriage is as long as both shall live (Romans 7.1-3; 1 Corinthians 7.39).
  2. Each must remain PURE.  Gross immorality is corrosive to marriage.  Guard your eyes (Psalm 101.3; Job 31.1) and your heart (Proverbs 4.23).
  3. Each must remain PATIENT (1 Corinthians 13.4-8).  Difficulties, disagreements, and differences refine dross from our marriages.  We must be filled with the Spirit and manifest sacrificial love and longsuffering with one another.  We must be patient and endure.
  4. Each must remain PASSIONATE (1 Corinthians 7.1-5).  Sexual intimacy is a wonderful part of marriage.  The Word of God calls it undefiled.
  5. Each must remain PLIABLE (Romans 8.29).  Allow Christ to shape you into His image.  Realize you cannot change your spouse.  You must rely upon Spirit-filled, Word-filled change (PBPWM. GINFWMY.  Do you remember what Doug said this acronym meant?