“Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.’”
“When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!””
There are times in the Word of God when an individual speaks a better word than they know. The Gospels tell us that Caiaphas, being the High Priest, prophesied without knowing it when he stated that it was expedient that one man day in the place of the whole people. Such is the case in John’s Gospel when Pilate utters the words recorded in John 19:5, “Behold the man!” The more I have immersed myself in the Gospels the more I have become aware that the Gospel writers portray various speakers as stating things in ways that point to the fulfillment of the Prophetic Scriptures. As John records these words, spoken by Pilate, it is as if the evangelist is stating that Pilate’s words must cause us to stop and reflect carefully and spiritually about the teaching of Scripture.
The question each Gospel writer brings us to confront is what the evidence is that the Lord Jesus Christ is in fact God’s promised Messiah. John stops us as we are following him through his account of the coming of our redeemer and causes us to take a careful look at the words that a pagan Roman official used to introduce the soon to be crucified Jesus to the crowd. “Behold the man!” These words are exactly what the prophet Zechariah wrote in the sixth chapter of his book as he pointed ahead to the coming of the Messiah. “Behold the man whose name is the branch.” Zechariah is calling his readers to recognise that the Messiah when He comes will fulfill some very specific promises. Both Zechariah and the Apostle John are calling us to recognise the evidence as it is found in the Word of God so that we will be able to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes. Today I want to spend a few moments reflecting upon what these Biblical writers are calling upon us to do.
- First, each writer is calling us to look carefully, and spiritually, at the evidence. “Behold!” Look carefully, reflectively at what we are being told. The Scriptures make it clear that the evidence that we are presented with is only comprehended with the help of the Holy Spirit. Unless God reveals this truth to us we will not believe it or even understand it for that matter. Darrell Johnson in Discipleship on the Edge, his masterful exposition of the book of Revelation has a phrase that he constantly repeats. This is that, “Things are not as they seem.” This is true whether it is our lives, or history, our behaviour, or Biblical truth that we are considering. There is more to reality than we will ever understand with our unaided senses. We need God’s help in order to understand reality. Given these facts we often find ourselves tempted to give up. God’s truth is beyond our ability to discern. We must not give up however because the Word of God is full of examples of ordinary people like us who have been ushered into God’s Wisdom so that they can understand His truth. James writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to Him.” (James 1:5) The very fact that James, and the Biblical writers call upon us to look carefully tells us that God’s wisdom is in fact available to anyone who truly seeks to know it. “Behold!”
- “The Man!”
As Pilate brings Jesus out, mocking Him with a crown of thorns
and a purple robe his words call upon us to carefully look at this figure,
Jesus of Nazareth, who in every way fulfills the promise God has made to us
about the coming Messiah. Look carefully
at Him! See how he fulfills the
promise! Zechariah had used a term, the
Branch, to describe Him. This term
pointed to the fact that the Messiah, when He came would fulfill certain
Scriptural teaching. Listen to what Isaiah
says about this one.
- Isaiah 4:2: “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.”
- Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”
- Isaiah 42:1: “Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations.”
As we take a careful look at these promises what we discover is that this man who is to come will be more than man. He will be God among us in human flesh. He will come as God’s Servant, in the power of God’s Spirit in order to serve us by suffering in our place. When Jesus describes His own ministry, as He does in Mark 10:45, it is in the light of this Biblical ministry of servant hood through the cross. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Pilate did speak better than he knew when he called us to look carefully at the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone fulfills all that the Scripture teaches about what the promised Messiah would be and do. In beholding Him we are called to believe.