There Christ stood—His head pierced with a crown of thorns, dressed up in another’s clothes, forced to hold a reed as a scepter, all in mockery of His kingship—as the Roman governor Pilate declared to the jeering crowd, “Behold the man!” While he spoke those words with scorn in mind, they were ironically appropriate; there stood the Savior of the world, arrayed in unparalleled humility, adorned with a lavish love for the world.
We have much to learn from Christ’s example. As the humble King endured royal ridicule and the “pre-death death” of brutal flogging, He did not utter a word of self-defense. And for what did they condemn Him? For healing a woman who was crippled for 18 years (Luke 13:10-13)? For bringing back to life the widow of Nain’s dead son (Luke 7:11-17)? For bringing Lazarus forth from the grave (John 11:1-44)? For taking children on His knee and encouraging His disciples to understand that “to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)? On what basis did Christ’s accusers find it in themselves to abuse Him in this way? There could be none. But they did it anyway.
When our humble Lord remained silent during His numerous trials, Pilate took offense and felt disrespected. There is great irony here, as this Roman governor attempted to pull rank on the King of the universe! And all the while, that King did nothing to assert His authority or save His own life. He humbly suffered an unjust trial, spoke truth when asked questions, and walked forward even unto death, all on our behalf.
I ask myself: Do I truly see this Man who stands before Pilate, who stands before the crowd—who stands before me? This is not some helpless individual who can do nothing for Himself. This is God incarnate.
Do I understand why He went down this road of humiliation? “Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan”]—love and salvation for you and me! Two millennia ago there stood a sorry spectacle outside the governor’s palace, in part because Jesus had our names before His gaze—names He had graven on the palms of those hands that would be pierced by the cruel nails (see Isaiah 49:16).
May we never be like the riotous crowd, mocking Christ’s humility, nor like Pilate, looking for Christ to be impressed with us. Instead, behold this Man in all His humility—holding this reed, bearing this crown, wearing this costume, hanging on that cross—and see Him beckoning. Behold the Man, and know beyond all doubt that His love for you knows no end.