Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man!
"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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!