The Gospel of John: Behold the Man!

Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” (John 19:4-5)

Behold the Man! In the Latin, it is the phase Ecce Homo. This title, and the scene and setting in which Pilate used it, has become widely depicted in Christian art. One of the most familiar artistic depictions of Pontius Pilate’s presentation of a scourged and crowned Jesus Christ before the hostile crowd prior to His crucifixion is Antonio Ciseri’s (1821-1891) painting appropriately entitled Ecco Homo.  Focus on the Family depicted this work by Ciseri in each episode of their DVD series, The Truth Project. 

After the initial flogging, Pilate produced Jesus to the crowd. He made every attempt to show that Jesus was a pathetic and innocent victim of circumstances. He portrayed Jesus to the people as a harmless fool instead of a powerful king. It was his way of seeking Jesus’ eventual release by the affirmation of the crowd. Perhaps Pilate thought that Jesus’s appearance would provoke pity. He thought wrong.

John MacArthur writes, “Pilate dramatically presented Jesus after his torturous treatment by the soldiers. Jesus would have been swollen, bruised, and bleeding. Pilate displayed Jesus as a beaten and pathetic figure, hoping to gain the people’s choice of Jesus for release. Pilate’s phrase is filled with sarcasm since he was attempting to impress upon the Jewish authorities that Jesus was not the dangerous man that they had made him out to be.

Pilate’s initial statement was followed by another famous quote: “I find no guilt in him.” Pilate found no basis for the accusations made against Jesus. As another commentator explains, The governor’s investigation has yielded a verdict: not guilty (18:35–38a). Under normal circumstances, this verdict would stand.” But these were not ordinary circumstances.

In the sinless life of Jesus we see His active obedience to the Word and will of God the Father. In His crucifixion, and the events immediately preceding His execution, we witness Jesus’ passive obedience to the Word and will of God. He submitted to the humiliation He encountered not only on behalf of sinners but also for His love of the Father.

R. C. Sproul concludes by stating, “There are many different conceptions of what it means to be human. Christians, however, know what true humanity looks like, what it means to be fully human as God intended us to be. True humanity looks like Jesus. We look to Him not only as our Savior but also as the chief example of what true humanity is. We are to emulate the kindness, steadfastness in the truth, humility, mercy, holiness, and other virtues of Jesus.”

May each believer strive today to be like the Lord Jesus.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!


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