Behold the Man

Behold the Man

David Leathem

Jesus came forth from the Praetorium--wounded by the scourge, smitten by the soldiers, pierced by the thorns (John 19:1-5). The Word, Who was God, had become flesh (John 1:14). He Who was in the form of God appeared in the form of man, (Phil. 2:6-8). As a Man, He was about to suffer death on a cross. BEHOLD THE MAN!

The realization that Jesus the Christ can help those who are tried rests upon an appreciation of Him as One Who has already entered into the experiences of human life, (Heb. 2:18), including those of injury and death.

The purpose of the incarnation of the Word of God is amply detailed in the Epistle to the Hebrews. “Since then the children are sharers (koinonoe) in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook (metecho) of the same.” (Heb. 2:14. R.V.). (While the common lot of the children is to share blood and flesh, the historic fact of the incarnation is implied in the statement that Jesus “partook” of the same.) He was made lower than the angels with a view to the death of suffering and shame, but has been crowned with glory and honor as a Man whose work has been achieved with triumph. (Heb. 2:7-9).

He partook of human nature that He might die; that He might destroy the devil; that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest; that He might help those that are tempted, (Heb. 2:14-18). He is a great High Priest Who is able to sympathize with our infirmities, because He has been tempted in every respect as we are, apart from sin, (Heb. 4:14-16), for He knew no sin, (2 Cor. 5:21).

The apostle John also refers to the purpose of the incarnation: He came to declare the Father. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). “No man hath seen God at any time; the Only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared,” (John 1:18);

In his first epistle, John states that “The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil,” (3:8). Through Satan, Eve had been beguiled (2 Cor. 11:3), with the result that the human race had become engulfed in sin and death. Man has been unable to meet God’s claims and to rid himself of guilt. He cannot effect His own redemption and must turn to One who Himself is free from the condemnation of sin and death. In this Man--the Man Christ Jesus --God has found all that His heart desired. Finally God accepted this Man’s sacrifice on the cross, a sacrifice whereby sin was dealt with for Eternity. Not only, therefore, “Hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” (Heb. 9:26) but also, that the sinner might be justified (cleared from every charge) through faith in the Son of God, (Rom. 5:1). Hence, Christ plays the role of Daysman (Job 9:33) that could lay His hand upon both God and man. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all,” (1 Tim. 2:5-6. R.V.).

The Old Testament anticipated the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As the Seed of the woman (not of the man), He was promised after the fall in the garden of Eden, (Gen. 3:15). Isaiah prophesied of His birth; indicating that a virgin would conceive and bring forth a Son whose name would be Immanuel; i.e., God with us, (Isa. 7:10-14).

The New Testament records the fulfilment of these prophecies and confirms the fact of the incarnation of God’s Son; for example, Matthew refers to the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 1:23, following (1) the genealogy of Jesus which links Him with the children of Abraham, and (2) the statement of the angel to Joseph which declares Him to be conceived of the Holy Ghost, to be the born Son of Mary, the Saviour of the world. Matthew also records the wise Men’s question, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2), and the fulfilment of the prophecy that “He shall be called a Nazarene,” (Matt. 2:23). Following the message of John the forerunner, and the baptism of Jesus, Matthew chapter 3 closes with the testimony from heaven of God the Father. The experiences of the Lord in His temptation (Matt. 4) constitute a further witness to the humanity of God the Son.

Other New Testament writers also make reference to His human birth. Luke in his narrative states that Mary, “Brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7). The conception and birth of Christ were the result of the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary; thus, by the power of the Highest overshadowing her, Christ was born, (Luke 1:35). Paul states that, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,” (Gal. 4:4).

The writers of both Testaments thus declare the essential humanity of Jesus the Christ, God’s Son, and His complete identity with our race.

That Christ was human is further indicated in some of the Scriptural titles accorded Him. The title “Son of Man” occurs about eighty times in the Gospels alone; first of all in Matt. 8:20, “The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” The final New Testament reference portrays “The Son of Man” having on His head a golden crown of victory, (Rev. 14:14). We see His humiliation followed by His glorification, and all as the Son of Man.

His humanity is also indicated by the link with David’s throne which is implied in the title “Son of David.” God promised David, “That of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.” (Acts 2:30; Psa. 132:11; 2 Sam. 7:8-17). Christ’s genealogy is traced through David in Matt. 1:6; the throne of David is therefore His, (Luke 1:32). Furthermore, Luke records graphicly how the birth of Jesus took place in Bethlehem, the city of David, (Luke 2).

Jesus is also called “The Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). The promises were made to Abraham and his seed, (Gal. 3:16) including the land which his seed should possess, (Gen. 13:15) and which Christ, as the Seed and the Son of Abraham, will inevitably possess in a day to come, (Zech. 9:10).

The language of Scripture indicates the extent to which He became identified with the human race. He was hungry, tired, and often wearied. Privation, loneliness, and untold sorrow were His earthly lot. He even wept tears as He entered into the perplexities of others. He was maligned, misunderstood, and misinterpreted by men. Finally He suffered the ignominy of dying on the cross. No wonder He can sympathize with His people in their trials!

The purpose of God will find its fulfilment in Christ glorified. He is presently the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22), and in the administration of the fulness of times, all things will be headed up in Him, (Eph. 1:10). Paul tells of Christ’s subjection to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28), indicating that our blessed Lord will retain His perfect manhood for ever.

We, His people, enjoy in the present the benefits of His High Priestly work. It will be our joyous experience throughout eternal ages of bliss to BEHOLD THE MAN.