Behold the man! What is truth!
Holy Week – Holy Friday – At the tomb
John 18:38; John 19:5
Brothers and sisters, behold the Man.
That’s what Pilate said. He also said, “What is truth?”
To “behold the man” is to behold truth, but Pilate didn’t notice. Why didn’t he notice?
Because he did not live according to the truth.
Why was Jesus Christ crucified?
Because people did not live according to the truth.
Why was the crowd, the tumult, why was the crown of thorns, the sham trial, the false witnesses?
Because people did not live according to truth, and therefore they did not recognize Truth.
When the Scripture says something, we must listen. Pilate said, “Behold the Man.” So we must then obey this instruction.
So now the Man is in the tomb. Of course we know that He resurrected Himself only a short time after. We know that, as God, He knew all things and could do all things; and, as Man, He allowed himself to be tried and executed as a criminal, to be buried, to be mocked.
The question is, why did they happen? Because they did not behold the Man, and because we do not behold the Man.
The Christian life is about truth, purity, goodness. The reason why we were created is to be good and true and pure. But we’re not good and true and pure. So we need help, and our Savior came to give it to us. And this help was in Him becoming Man, living the life that we must have, that we must live ourselves if we are to be blessed, if we are to be happy.
He fulfilled this life, and He made us capable of fulfilling it ourselves. He taught about it and He did it. And yet when He came to His own, His own rejected Him. And we are His own. And if we have the proper attitude about ourselves, we would also say that we have a part with that crowd because every moment of our life we are asked to behold the Man.
It’s not to look at someone. It’s not to know who someone is. It is to live as the person you are beholding. This is what “behold the Man” means. Now, to Pilate it didn’t mean that. To Pilate it just meant: ‘Look at Him, He’s a problem for me, please settle down so that there is not a riot for the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the ruling class, and the elite.” He was dangerous, and they were jealous of Him.
Many of the people did not really understand, and they were easily swayed by convincing arguments of those that were better educated than them and promised them things. But truly, to obey this command — and it is a command; it was given by a pagan, but it is a command, “Behold the Man” — to truly behold Him, we must be like Him.
So He dedicated His whole life to death. He was born to die. But not just to be dead, so that He would arise and we would have life.
So if we are to behold Him, we are to live like Him. We know that He is not in the tomb for long. We are not really sad on this day concerning these events. We should be sad, though, that these events were necessary because of us. We don’t live as we should. But we can.
Recently I told you that Holy Week is a week of contrasts. There are many things that are so diametrically opposed to one another:
The children greeted our Lord on Palm Sunday, and then only a few days later there were people yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, we have no king but Caesar, and His Blood be upon us and on our children.”
Judas plotted for only 30 pieces of silver to sell Him without a price, Who did not have a price, could not be priced. And the woman who had been delivered from her sins came and anointed His feet with fine ointment and tears and wiped them with her hair.
Peter and Judas were alike and very different. They were alike in that, being weak men, they sinned. Judas, by plotting to have Christ delivered because of his avarice. Peter, by boasting and then being afraid and denying Him. And Judas was so sorry. We just read that. We’ve actually read it I think now four times in a short few days. Judas was sorry. He knew what he did was but he went out and hanged himself.
And Peter wept bitterly after he denied the Lord three times, and later the Lord restored him. Why? Because Peter stayed with the disciples. He still loved the Lord. He didn’t know how, but somehow he had to make it right.
This is the model we have, that we must follow. We are like Judas and Peter in sin. But we would be like Peter in repentance. Peter beheld the Man. Because of his love for Jesus, he was restored.
So may we also behold the Man. Not a dead man in a tomb. Not even a live man in Heaven. But the God-Man in our hearts, speaking to us at all times, helping us, teaching us, rebuking us, comforting us. Will we behold Him? That is the command that you must answer and give an answer for every day and every moment of your life. May God help us to do that.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009
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