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!

A Child, a Son, and a King Forever

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9.6-7

The Child born In Isaiah 9.6 is the Son of the virgin mentioned in Isaiah 7.14.  The first two phrases tell us that a Child is born (birth of Christ) and a Son is given (admittedly Hebrew parallelism but I think alluding to the crucifixion of Christ).  Everything following in Isaiah’s prophecy points to His coming Millennial Kingdom.  The government will be upon the shoulder of the Christ when He reigns for 1,000 years (Revelation 20.1-6).  He will be the King reigning, and the saints will reign with Him.

There are now four descriptive phrases of the King (Wonderful should modify Counselor):  1) Wonderful Counselor; 2) Mighty God; 3) Everlasting Father; 4) Prince of Peace.  First, He has wisdom to govern the people of the world perfectly.  Second, He has the power to carry out His rule with an iron scepter.  Third, He is the everlasting Father in the sense that He is the Father of all those who are redeemed.  Adam is the father of all living beings.  Christ is the last Adam and became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15.45).  Finally, He is the Prince of Peace.  The 1,000 year reign of Christ will be marked by the absence of war and violence.  It will fulfill the Davidic Covenant and satisfy the promises of God.  It will be a time of great blessing.

“Of the increase of Christ’s government and peace there will be no end.”  The government of Christ does not increase through war but through peace.  His justice and judgment are characteristic of His reign.  His reign and rule is forever.  This will be a fulfillment of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7.12-17:

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”

So our text is all about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is a Child born, a Son given, and King forever.

Jesus is a Child Born

Galatians 4.4-5 state, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Paul wrote these words to Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians.  Gentile believers need not place themselves under the Law of Moses in order to gain acceptance with God.  Jewish believers need to understand that they are dead to the Law of Moses.  Believers need neither guardian or steward, because we are sons.  Paul asks and answers three questions when it comes to the incarnation of Jesus Christ:

When did the incarnation of Christ occur?

While everyone is preoccupied with the date December 25, God simply tells us that Jesus came as a Baby in a manger when the fullness of time had come.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us at just the right time in the history of mankind (John 1.14).  1 Timothy 3.16 states, “Great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh.”  He was manifested in the flesh at the perfect time.

First, Jesus Christ came at a time when the Greco-Roman culture flourished, but the Gentiles professing themselves to be wise had become fools.  Second, Jesus Christ came at a time when the Jew made his boast in the Law of Moses, but dishonored God by continually breaking that Law.  Third, Jesus Christ came when the nation of Israel languished under the Roman Empire, but longed for a King of their own to rule over them.

The fullness of time had come.  it was the perfect time.  There wasn’t a better time than the time when God the Son came into the world as “a Child born.”

How did the incarnation of Christ occur?

Paul describes the incarnation with two phrases that are key:  Jesus was “born of a woman” and “born under the law”.  The physical birth of Jesus Christ in an animal stall is quite unremarkable.  He was born of a woman.  All of us are.  Yet the birth of Christ is remarkable in that He was born to a virgin named Mary.  The Baby was formed in the womb of a pure virgin through the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit.  This distinguishes His birth from all others.

If Jesus Christ had been born as you or I, then He could not have escaped the same curse we are now under.  All of us are born in Adam.  Through Adam’s disobedience, all of us have sin natures.  But Jesus did not have an earthly biological father.  His birth was miraculous.  All of us sin like our father Adam sinned.  Therefore, all of us die.  But Jesus Christ remains the Perfect Man, the Son of God.  He is fully God and fully Man.  He is the only begotten of the Father, the only one of His kind.  “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel …which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Isaiah 7.14; Matthew 1.23).

Second, Jesus was “born under the law.”  He was not born under the curse of the Law but simply under the Law’s authority.  He did not fail in submitting to the Law of Moses.  Actually, He fulfilled it.  Thus, in fulfilling the Law, Jesus made available to us the righteousness of God the Father.

Jesus was born of a woman and born under the Law.  He carried the curse of the Law for us, a curse He did not deserve.  He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Law so that we might have everlasting life and righteousness.  “Now the righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe (Romans 3.21-22)!”

Why did the incarnation of Christ occur?

Paul writes that Jesus was born of a woman and under the Law “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoptions as sons.”  There is a two-step progression here that it vital.

First, we must be set free or loosed from the bondage of the Law.  Paul writes in another place:  ”Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3.19).  Jesus frees us from that objective, forensic guilt before God.

The Law cannot condemn us, because Jesus Christ absorbed all the condemnation we deserve.  The Law cannot command us, because we are under grace and not Law.  We are dead to the Law through the body of Christ (Romans 7.1-4).  The incarnation and death of Jesus Christ redeems us from the condemnation we deserve because of our transgression of the Law of God, knowingly or unknowingly.  We are no longer obligated to stand or fall according to our works once we trust in the completed work of our Savior.  He has redeemed us!  God sent forth His Son to free us from sin.

The second step in the progression is our purpose in life.  We are set free from sin so “that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  Many believe that every member of the human race is a child of God.  But that is not true.  While all are created by God, once sin entered, we became children of the devil.  Jesus Christ came so that we might become children of God through supernatural rebirth.

Adoption is not so much a legal transaction by which we are declared righteous.  That belongs to the theological term justification.  We are adopted through supernatural rebirth.  We are now precious children of God with all the precious privileges and great inheritance that Christ has purchased for us with His precious blood.  “But as many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1.12).  God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

All of this NT revelation illuminates truth which people in Isaiah’s day did not understand.  Unto us a child is born.  He is a child born of a virgin woman under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law.  The Child born would become the Son God gave to the world.

Jesus is a Son Given

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3.16).  Jesus is the Son given (grace).  He is the gift of God and the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  Propitiation means that Jesus Christ is the full and satisfying payment for our sins.  He is fully satisfying and pleasing to the Father.  ”By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3.16a).  Jesus is the Son given.

2 Corinthians 5.21 tells us that the Father made the Son who knew no sin to be sin for us.  Jesus Christ stood in our place and absorbed the wrath of God we deserve.  He drained the dregs of judgment from the cup of God’s indignation.  He prayed that it would pass from Him, but nevertheless not what He will as a Man but what God willed.  He did this not for Himself but for you and for me.  He died and was buried in a tomb.  He arose the third day!  The Father raised up the Son, Jesus our Lord, from the dead.  Jesus was the Son given for our offenses and the Son raised with a view toward our justification (Romans 4.25).

Jesus is a King Forever

  1. He is the Wonderful Counselor – The Bible exhorts us as believers to be knit together in love, and attain to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2.6).  Jesus is wisdom personified.  He is the Word become flesh!  His ways and judgements are beyond our comprehension.  We look to Him for wisdom and guidance!  He is the King Forever, the Wonderful Counselor.
  2. He is the Mighty God – He is not only God with us; He is God over us.  If Jesus is not God, then He could not be the Son given.  If Jesus is not God, then He could not reign as King.  He shares in all the attributes of the Father.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present.  The Mighty God was the Lord of glory crucified.  It is His blood that is the purchase price of our redemption – matchless blood, perfect blood.  He is King Forever, the Mighty God.
  3. He is the Everlasting Father – This text is not saying that Jesus the Son is actually God the Father.  We believe in the triune nature of God:  Father, Son, and Spirit – three persons and one God.  So how is Jesus the everlasting Father?   He has begotten us as children by His Word and His Spirit.  Jesus is the Second Adam.  He is the giver and source of everlasting life.  Through His blood, He has opened the new and better way to God.  We are adopted into the family of God through supernatural rebirth.  Jesus made this possible.  He is the Everlasting Father in this sense.  He is the King Forever, the Everlasting Father.
  4. He is the Prince of Peace – While Jesus will reign upon David’s throne and bring peace to the entire world, we as believers experience the benefit of peace today.  He redeemed us and reconciled us to the Father.  We are no longer enemies but children.  Not only that, we have peace garrisoning our hearts to this day.  Nobody is able to take this peace away from us.  He is the King Forever, the Prince of Peace.

Father, all we can do is meditate upon these verses and simply get lost in wonder and in praise for Jesus, the Child born, the Son given, and the King forever.  The more we think about this passage, the more devoted to Christ we become.

We are filled with wonder.  He is the Child born:  God in the flesh.  You have revealed that the angels themselves are lost in wonder and desire to consider this great truth.  Great is this mystery of godliness!  Thanks be to You for Your indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9.15)!

We are lost in praise.  Our gratitude is heightened when we consider the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  That He would be a Child born in order to become a Son given as a sacrifice compels gratitude within us.  You put it there in our souls though the power of your Spirit.  What can we give in return?  We can never repay You for the Child born and the Son given, but we can give You our lives anew this morning.

Let us be filled with devotion and commitment.  Let Your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.  We submit ourselves to the King today and every day.  We accept the gift of His reign over us.

You have bid us come.  We have labored and we have been heavily burdened by our sin.  We receive the rest only You give.  We take Your yoke upon us.  We will learn from You for you are gentle and lowly in heart.  You will give us what we seek this Christmas:  Rest for our souls.  Lord Jesus, Your yoke is indeed easy; Your burden light.  You truly a Child born, a Son given, and a King forever.