Stephen Rudge, Winshill, England
The word ‘behold’ is often used in the gospel narratives and the Acts. The word calls our attention to look at, hear or understand the given subject. Many different words found in the original are translated in our Authorised Version, ‘behold‘, but we will just deal with two in our consideration, both of which come from the same root word eidon, ‘to see’.1
As believers in the Lord Jesus our earnest hope and joy will be, one day soon, to look upon Him. Often, as we gather, our minds are drawn again with anticipation to the day when faith will give way to sight and mortality to immortality. That anticipation need not be limited just to those times, but become our daily expectation. At His coming this will then be a physical reality, yet in anticipation of it we can still 'Behold Him' and feast our eyes upon our Beloved. Let us look again with some of those who, in our Lord’s day, said in effect ‘behold Christ’ and 'Look upon Him'.
SIMEON – BEHOLD THIS CHILD.
Luke tells us he was ‘just and devout, and waiting . . .’, Luke 2. 25. These are characteristics that should be found in us. To be ‘just’ or to do that which is ‘right’ to all men, is to emulate Christ. The very same word is used as a title for the Lord Jesus in the preaching of Peter ‘ye denied the Holy One and the Just’, Acts 3. 14. Simeon was also ‘devout’. He was aware of the presence and claims and promises of God, so he waited. We also wait, though not strictly for ‘the consolation of Israel’, 2. 25, but for ‘that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’, Titus 2. 13.
On a daily basis our expectation should mirror Simeon’s experience. We hope but he knew ‘that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ’, 2. 26. How lovely to note that Simeon was in the right place when He came for he was in ‘the temple’. At last he beheld the Christ and said ‘behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel’, 2. 34. ‘Behold this child’, how humbling to consider, God in the likeness of sinful flesh, as a child, held in the arms of a sinner. The One at whose word the very world was brought into being.
JOHN THE BAPTIST – BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD.
Many years later when the Lord Jesus began His public ministry another called those around him to look upon Christ but in a very different way. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ he said, ‘which taketh away the sin of the world’, John 1. 29. Look not now upon the Child but the Lamb. Simeon rejoiced when he saw the Person of salvation, Luke 2. 30, John declared the pathway of salvation, a sacrificial one. As the forerunner, John was true to his calling making plain the identity and purpose of the Christ. Year by year a lamb was taken and offered but never was the Lamb of God revealed until now. Many of those that pressed in upon the Baptist must have grasped the significance of his words and looked in wonder at the Saviour before them.
PILATE – BEHOLD THE MAN.
It was not only godly men that called others to look upon Christ for Pilate also did the same. After the soldiers had mocked the Lord Jesus, Pilate tells the Jews that he will bring Him out to them that they might know he finds no fault in Him, attempting to wash his hands of the whole matter. The Lord Jesus comes forward, ‘wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, “Behold the man!”’, John 19. 5. Oh yes, He was a man but a man like no other! What had the people said of Him? ‘Never a man spake like this man’, John 7. 46, and the disciples, ‘What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’, Mark 4. 41. This was a man that was verily God.
What an indictment against humanity the picture is now. Not just a man, but God, on trial, and that before a troubled Governor and the religious leaders of the Jews enraged with jealousy against Him. ‘Behold the man’, in meekness and humility, not so much as opening His mouth to defend His cause. ‘When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously’, 1 Pet. 2. 23.
PILATE – BEHOLD YOUR KING.
Within hours the Lord Jesus is brought out again into Gabbatha, the Judgment Place. Again Pilate exhorts the Jews to look upon Christ saying, ‘Behold your King!’, John 19. 14. No one had greater claim to any throne than Christ and none had more fully demonstrated that right. ‘Behold, thy King cometh unto thee’ said the prophet of old, ‘He is just, and having salvation: lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’, Zech. 9. 9. How they prided themselves on knowing the Scriptures and yet how blind they were. How careful we too need to be ‘lest being lifted up with pride’ we ‘fall into the condemnation of the devil’, 1 Tim. 3. 6. Beware of knowledge that becomes blind bondage to a cause that is not of God and obstructs us seeing Him.
THE LORD HIMSELF – BEHOLD MY HANDS.
Finally, let us draw near and hear the words of the Saviour Himself as He requests a doubtful Thomas to ‘reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands’, John 20. 27. Thomas must have been a broken man that day, his eyes opened to God’s mighty plan of salvation and the reality of a living Saviour. What is our response to Christ as once again His tender voice is heard, ‘behold my hands’? Marked by Calvary, marked by love for the sinner, marked by you and me. Are we not encouraged to love Him more, to serve Him better and to tell others of His saving grace? If every day when seeing Him who is invisible by faith, we stop, and have this blessed thought, ‘it may be today that I behold Christ, then surely our lives will be more for Him and less for us.
1. See ‘Behold’ (No. 4) W. E. Vine‘s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.