What does it mean to “behold”? Let me see if I can piece together some discoveries concerning that word, which is really an invitation to deeper understanding of our standing in Jesus Christ.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John the Baptist sees Him as the Messiah, and invites us to also behold Him, to see Him for what He is. That is the beginning of beholding.
The saga unfolds, and… “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19:5) Pilate sees Him as an enigma and a political conundrum, yet paradoxically echoes John’s invitation to take a really good look.
Behold: It’s from the Greek εἴδω eidō (i’-do), and it means to see (literally or figuratively), by implication to know, be aware, behold, consider, perceive, understand. It’s not just a quick look or taking something for granted. It’s a deeply introspective process of going past the surface story, beyond immediate appearances.
At the beginning of the story, we picture ourselves there by the Jordan. We look up to see the One John asks us to behold… At the other end of His story (and the new beginning of ours), we stand just outside Pilate’s judgement hall, and once more hear the charge, “Behold!”
To behold is not to merely look with the physical eyes, but to understand (by way of contemplating – pondering in our hearts like Mary) our Lord Jesus Christ – until the reality of His identity and work impacts and convinces our mind concerning everything God has offered to us in and through His Son – our new reality, our restoration, our new creation.
What do you and I see, perceive, or understand when we behold Jesus, dear reader? What on earth does Jesus mean to you and me for heaven’s sake?
The Holy Spirit is given in order for us to comprehend deeply what we behold. He teaches us all things – wisdom for the asking. Not an unintelligible dogma, not an obscure doctrine, but clarifies our new reality in Him – the only reality whereby we transcend this one, or the only Name whereby we must be saved. The Holy Spirit gives us insight, helps us behold.
So is it time to take a good look, to behold, and to ponder Him? This is the purpose of Christian “contemplation” and “meditation”, to get to know Him, to behold Him – in Whom we live, move, and have our being. It is not about emptying the mind and creating some sort of void. Nor is it for mere relaxation. No, beholding is contemplating is meditating is to surrender the faculties of the mind, intellect, and will to the understanding brought to light by Jesus Christ. John testifies in his first epistle (5:20) that the Son of God has come to bring us understanding in order to know Him, to be able to come to grips with the fact that we are in Him and what the implications are!
We are reminded by Psalm 1 that for the one who delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates therein day and night, it will mean becoming like a fruitful tree planted by the rivers of (living?) water, and whatever we do shall prosper! Our “meditating” is a beholding, a deep considering and reflection upon, all that God provides for us through our Lord Jesus.
What does this understanding imply for us in terms of the Cross? Paul prays diligently for this comprehension. He says of his calling in God “that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8,9) His prayer is that believers, “being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-29)
His example spurs us on. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)
Our beholding is to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, in order to be filled up to all the fulness of God. That’s the can-do that is in Jesus. A more amazing reality one cannot imagine! We slip out of the domain of emptiness into ultimate fulness and fulfillment – what we were created for and meant to be from the beginning, and that to which we are restored in and through Him.
Jesus final prayer on the night He was betrayed was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may BEHOLD my glory, which thou hast given me…” (John 17:24) Spiritually reckoning ourselves with Him, in order to behold His glory! Amazing Grace!
The result? “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Believing is beholding is perceiving is surrendering is becoming. It is all Grace! Jesus Himself invites us, as He asks us to invite Him in, using the same word: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
It doesn’t get any better than this! Glory to the Lamb now and forever. Amen.