Behold the Lord Jesus

A Lord's Day meditation on the three "Behold" statements in the gospel of John.

Behold the Lord Jesus

In the gospel of John, we have the command "Behold" (Ἰδοὺ/ἴδε) used three times with reference to the Lord Jesus. Each of them portrays for us a distinct glory of our Lord Jesus and meditating on each enables us to deepen our appreciation for Him.

Behold the Lamb of God!

In John 1:29, we have John the Baptist seeing the Lord Jesus and exclaiming to the crowd around him, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Here we have the first of these behold-statements where the Lord Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God. Clearly, the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system especially that of the passover lamb is behind this title (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7). Like the paschal lamb that reminds the Jews of how they were temporally saved from Egypt and rescued from death, the Lamb of God is here to save us and rescue us from death. It is noteworthy that the Baptist says "the sin (singular, τὴν ἁμαρτίαν) of the world" and not 'sins' (plural) of the world. In other words, sin in all its totality, the very principle of sin that separates man from God will be taken away by this Lamb of God. Here we thus have the work of Lord Jesus as the saviour of the world in full view – removing, abolishing, or expiating sin, and thereby propitiating God, accomplishing thus reconciliation between God and man in His work of atonement.

Behold the Man!

In John 19:5, we have the second of these behold-statements where Pilate after having flogged Jesus, announces to the crowd - "Behold the man!" Let us take note that in the Greek, it is the generic term for human being, ἄνθρωπος that Pilate used, and not the gender specific term for males, ἀνήρ. In other words, in the providence of God, whether Pilate knew it or not, he was commending Lord Jesus as the man, the perfect manifestation of what a human being should be. We find Paul also uses the same language in 1 Tim.2:5 where he says, "there is one mediator between God and men, the man (ἄνθρωπος) Christ Jesus." In other words, just as the Lord Jesus is the perfect revelation of who God is (Heb.1:3; Jn.14:9), He is also the perfect manifestation of who Man is. Here in the Lord Jesus, we see what man should have been. For when Pilate announces, behold the man, we turn and see a man flogged and scourged, bleeding profusely, all for His impeccable obedience to God. He loved the Father to the point of death. We also find in Him a man who has no bitterness towards his fellow human beings, who was meek even before His tormentors. As Peter says, "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Pet.2:23). Lord Jesus thus reveals perfectly both God and man. For this is who God truly is – One who loves us to the point of death. And this is who Man truly is to be – one who loves God and others to the point of death.

Behold your King!

Finally, in John 19:14, just before the Lord Jesus is delivered over to be crucified, Pilate in a vain attempt to release him, announced to the crowd – "Behold your king!" While Pilate was unaware and the people rejected his assertion, in the providence of God, it was a true statement. But the people cannot accept it - that their promised Messiah is a victim of the Romans, standing before Pilate all scourged and bleeding like a political criminal about to be crucified. How could that be the Messiah? Their rejection reveals their ignorance of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, the prophecies about the first and second advent of the Lord are often mingled together and so many Jewish people had much confusion about how could all this be true of one person. In fact, some rabbis even suggested that there are two Messiahs - one the suffering servant of Isaiah, and the other the reigning victorious one as we find in much of the other prophetic books. But there are no two Messiahs, the humiliated suffering servant is the reigning victorious King. In fact, apart from His suffering redemptive work of grace, there is no sovereign reigning work of government. So when Pilate announces us to behold the king and we find an innocent and righteous sufferer about to be crucified, we are indeed beholding the promised king on His way to be enthroned.

These three pictures of our Lord Jesus thus have a progression. The Lamb of God is indeed the silent suffering Man (Isa.53:7; Acts 8:32), who is then raised by God to be the King of God.  Let us behold our Lord Jesus in these three ways – as our propitiatory sacrifice that takes away our sin, as the perfect Man who suffered out of love for us, and as the promised King who having endured His Cross, has claimed His crown from the Father, and is awaiting to return soon to sit on His throne (Matt.25:31) for establishing His visible kingdom on earth.

Let us behold the Lord Jesus in all His manifold glories and offer Him our heart's worship. Amen.