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.
When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him.I. THE CLAMOUR. "Crucify Him!"
1. Its occasion: the presentation of Christ "therefore." One would have expected, as Pilate doubtless did, that revenge would be satiated by the bleeding form of One who had offended them by His teaching, and by the humiliation of One whom they had charged with kingly ambition. Here surely was an end of His prestige — the people would never listen to Him again, or shout hosannahs any more. Instead of this, these human tigers having tasted bleed, only thirsted for more.
2. Its nature.(1) Cowardly, inasmuch as its object was an innocent defenceless prisoner.(2) Ferocious, for it called for a death, of all deaths the most humiliating and cruel. To have cried "Drown!" "Behead!" "Pelson!" would have argued some relic of pity; for these would have been comparatively painless means of putting their victim out of His misery.
3. Its accordance with the Divine plans. This was the form of death deliberately chosen and predicted by Jesus. Hence the clamour was an unconscious means of helping to fulfil His prophecies of being "lifted up." "He causeth the wrath of man to praise Him."
II. PILATE'S RESPONSE TO THE CLAMOUR. "Take ye Him," &c. A response —
1. Contemptuous: showing the governor's repugnance to being the dirty tool of an unscrupulous and fanatical mob. All the Roman's sense of right and pride of race come out here.
2. With a merciful design. It meant "I have nothing to crucify Him for; crucify ye Him if ye dare!" It was something like the reply of a British officer in India to a Brahmin who consulted him with reference to a Sutee. It was represented that the burning of a certain widow was in conformity with the laws of their religion. "Very good," said the officer, "you carry out your laws and I will execute mine. According to mine, to burn a widow is murder, and I will hang every man connected with the murder." Pilate doubtless thought that this would be an end to the matter. He little knew, apparently, those with whom he had to deal.
III. THE GROUND FOR PILATE'S RESPONSE, "I find no fault in Him." This is the third time that Pilate made this confession. It should go for something, for it came from an experienced Roman judge — after a personal examination; after a trial, when all the odds were against the prisoner; after excruciating torture; and was made to a people whom Pilate had every reason to desire to propitiate. The only inference that can be drawn is that there was no fault in Jesus. And if Pilate found no fault in Him can we?
(J. W. Burn.)
I find no fault in Him.I. OF WHOM THIS IS SAID.
1. The Man Christ Jesus. Behold the Man! Can you find any fault —(1) With His character, which was "holy, harmless," &c. "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?"(2) With His words, which were untainted by falsehood, malice, wrath (except for hypocrisy and evil doing), but were full of grace, love, and truth.(3) With His actions, which were all straightforward, righteous, beneficent.
2. The Teacher. Will you find fault with —(1) The matter of His teaching. Produce its like from pagan sages or even inspired prophets!(2) The manner: so tender, illustrative, interesting, forceful. "Never man spake as this Man."
3. The Saviour. Can you find fault with —(1) His power to save. "He is able to save to the uttermost."(2) His willingness. "Come unto Me." "This Man receiveth sinners" — now.
4. The King. No fault can be found with One the principle of whose government is to cause all things to work together for His subjects' good.
II. BY WHOM THIS IS SAID.
1. Pilate, the Roman judge, after the most careful examination. What would Pilate not have given had it been possible to find fault, and so extricate himself.
2. Judas His betrayer. I have shed innocent blood." What would not that guilty conscience have given to have found one flaw on that spotless innocence.
3. The saved sinner who has trusted in Him and found mercy.
4. The afflicted believer who finds His grace sufficient.
5. The dying saint. "Yea, though I walk through the valley," &c.
6. Angels and glorified spirits. "Worthy is the Lamb."What then is the conclusion to be drawn from all this?
1. All other men — the most wise and the most saintly — are faulty somewhere. But this Man had no fault.
2. Upon no other man has this verdict been passed. Friends or enemies, or himself, have found some fault. But neither friend nor foe could find fault with Jesus. Nor did He find fault with Himself. Was He not then the Holy One of God?
(J. W. Burn.)
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