Ecce Homo means “behold the man.”
It is the perfect flashcard to strengthen our inner man once we understand the point behind it.
We read this phrase in John 19 as Pontius Pilate presents Jesus, wearing the crown of thorns and purple robe, to the crowd. “Behold the man!” Pilate shouts as he ignorantly shoves Jesus to the edge. The taunts of “crucify him!” swell his ego, giving a false sense of control and power. He did not understand the eternal play in which he found himself; and thus, in the midst of a mocking crowd, he was the emperor who wore no clothes.
This began the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, for the Lord. Scripture says He endured the Way because He set His eyes on the joy before Him—us being reunited with Him! The reality of us being one with Jesus again strengthened Him to press on through the agony of the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
This is the powerful principle of vision: when we focus on where we are going and who we are becoming, we are strengthened in our inner man. How much more when we gaze upon the Lord … when we behold the Man?!
Meditate on this truth: we worship the Risen Christ! Triumphant over sin and death!
On Good Friday as Jesus hung on the cross, the three Marys, John and the other disciples did not know what would happen three days later when they walked down from Golgotha. The pain of loss they felt was real. We see with such clarity what they could not see—Jesus walking among them for forty days, ascending to Heaven, and releasing the Holy Spirit.
How often is this the story of our lives: We come to situations that require us to lay down our hopes and dreams, to readjust, to experience a death of some kind. Though painful, we know it is necessary. We do not know the outcome—we just do it and let the days unfold, trusting the sovereignty of God to govern.
In trying times, one of the most beneficial exercises a follower of Jesus can do is focus on who He is. We in essence Ecce Homo: we proclaim to ourselves and to others, “Behold the Man!” Who was fully human and fully divine. Who lived for others, healing them and loving them to life. Who enjoyed a unique, personal relationship with the God of Israel, whom He called Abba.
It is often said, “you become what you behold.” I like what N.T. Wright says along this line in his book, Simply Christian:
“You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.”
When we look at an attribute of Jesus and then speak and meditate on it, we are changed. As we behold Him, His love flows over us, leaving us more in His likeness.
Overwhelmed, we cry: “Behold the Man! The perfect One forsaken for me. The One Who has loved me so completely.”
“Behold the Man! Who has captured my heart; Who has brought me out of darkness into the light.”
“Behold the Man!”
We look again, see something new about Him, and agree all over again, “Behold the Man! Worthy of my praise!”
Let us make our Ecce Homo declarations and prayers and be strengthened to persevere in life and godliness!
With the Apostle Paul’s words to the Ephesians, I pray a prayer for strength for you:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV