Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ecce Homo--Behold The Man!

According to Christian tradition, yesterday was Good Friday, which marks the day of the Savior's crucifixion and death. After eating the Last Supper, a Passover meal, with His disciples, the Savior went to a familiar garden on the Mount of Olives, "for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples" (John 18:2), a garden that we call Gethsemane. In one of the olive vineyards on that mount, in a place called Gat Shemen, (Heb., olive press), the sinless Son of God suffered in agony for the sins of all men who would ever live, and "would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--Nevertheless...[He] partook and finished [His] preparations unto the children of men" (Doc. & Cov. 19:18-19).


Luke records that Christ's anguish was so great that "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). His disciples, though they sat but "a stone's cast" away from Him, "could not watch with [Him] one hour," and slept through the most transcendent act of love ever performed (Luke 22:41, Matt. 26:40). He who had never experienced the pain caused by sin was overtaken with the aggregate agony of the sins of all mankind, the incompleteness and pains of fallen man, and the rebellion of all the inhabitants of the worlds He had created.

Christ's choice in the Garden atoned for the effects of Adam's choice in Eden's garden. In a way we cannot fully comprehend, Christ accepted and suffered the pains, trials, and the hurts of men, in addition to their sins. He therefore knows our struggles and has the power to help us overcome tribulation, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). As Alma prophesied, "he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:12).

As He suffered alone in the Garden, the soldiers of the chief priest came to take Him by night, led by Judas, a member of Christ's inner circle. Refusing Peter's offer of military aid, the Lord allowed Himself to be led away, to be mocked, spit upon, scourged, and subjected to all manner of humiliations throughout several illegal trials during the next twenty-four hours. "And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men" (1 Ne. 19:9). Finally, delivered up to Pilate by those who wished Him dead, the Savior had a beautiful exchange with His interrogator. Asked about His Kingship, the Lord responded, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).
"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?
"Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (John 18:37).
And though Pilate could find no fault in Christ, he, for fear of the Jews, delivered Him up to be scourged, perhaps hoping to satisfy the mob with such a horrific punishment. Following the beating and mocking of the Roman soldiers, being crowned with thorns and arrayed in a purple robe, Christ again appeared before the people, and Pilate declared, "Ecce homo"--"Behold the man!"

Pilate's cry has resounded throughout time, though doubtless he did not understand the import of the words he spoke. When, following His resurrection, Christ visited the people in the land of Bountiful, He gave a similar commandment: "Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life" (3 Ne. 15:9). Alma counseled his son, "so was it prepared for [our fathers], that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. And now, my son, see that ye...look to God and live" (Alma 37:46-47).

The way ahead of Christ's ancient disciples was uncertain, when Pilate declared to the multitude, "Behold the man!" At times our way can seem uncertain. We can feel lost in a chaotic world, without the moorings that give our lives meaning and direction. But, as President Hinckley has said,

"One thing we do know. Like the Polar Star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.

"In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us.

"He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh...None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God." (We Testify of Jesus Christ, Ensign March 2008)

May I join my testimony with his, and with those of prophets throughout the ages, for I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Living Son of the Living God. I know that He who was heralded by angels, born of a virgin, laid in a manger, and raised by a poor carpenter, He who healed the lame, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, calmed the seas, and walked on water, He who was scourged, mocked, and crucified, even the Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the tomb and ascended to heaven, that He lives today and will come again, with power and great glory, to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I know that He who bled from every pore and bore the "chastisement of my peace" stands with outstretched arms and beckons me to follow Him. He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament, the Great I AM, the Lord Immanuel, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Friend.

This is the "good news" of the gospel, the "reason for the hope which is in" us. These are the glad tidings which men and angels have proclaimed--that the Lord of Hosts has, in His infinite mercy, condescended to come to earth, to "dwell in a tabernacle of clay," (Mosiah 3:5) to work out His infinite Atonement for all mankind, to suffer, die, and rise again, and so to bring men back into the presence of God, to make us joint-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17), that we be "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).
Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that...the prisoners shall go free. Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life!" (Doc. & Cov. 128:22-23)

2 comments:

  1. Beautifully expressed.Makes me want to memorize Doc&Cov 128:22-23, it's so joyous.
    Behold the Man, seems the moment when Christ was at his most mortal. Though I can barely begin to fathom the wight of pain he was carrying

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautifully expressed. You've made me want to memorize Doc&Cov 128:22-23, it's so joyous!
    When Pilate says Behold the man, it seems the moment that Christ is at his most mortal. Though I can barely begin to fathom the weight of pain he was carrying

    ReplyDelete