Behold, the Man!

This is the artwork that hangs in the front entry hall of my home.

Ecce Homo–“Behold, the Man!”

It was painted by Antonio Ciseri in 1871.

It is…magnificent.

I cannot walk by it without feeling a pang in my heart.

This is my Savior.

He was innocent.

Yet He was mocked, beaten, and executed in the most shameful of ways.

All because I am guilty.

I consider this image with particular reverence on this day.

Ecce Homo

9 thoughts on “Behold, the Man!

  1. I am sorry……but, YOU ARE NOT GUILTY! You have never been guilty. So, take a set back and take a deep breath…. and when looking at your painting be grateful for the Father having sent His Son to show us the true nature of His love for us. ‘When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature.’

    • Clyde, you show a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian doctrine. What you have written here is a complete caricature.

      First of all, you’re saying no one is guilty? So, Hitler upheld God’s moral standard every bit as well as Mother Teresa did? Hmmm. The truth of the matter is, no one has upheld the moral standard—not even close. Not because the standard is unreasonable, but because we are so fallen. One must be in serious denial to not recognize how much we all need cleansing. Mankind commits evil acts both in his heart and toward fellow man.

      Secondly, I do not have a conception of God as a stern, offended monarch who relishes punishing mankind for sin. I have no idea where you got that idea. God is all-loving, yes, but if you understand the concept of God at all, you must understand that his attributes are not hierarchical. He is all-loving by his very nature, but he is also perfectly just in his very nature. One does not over-ride the other. If he did not fulfill ultimate love AND ultimate justice, he would not be God.

      Thirdly, JESUS IS GOD INCARNATE. So, God gave HIMSELF as the ransom! That, my friend, is the epitome of love! He saw our sinfulness and he died on our behalf, paying the penalty in full so we could be reconciled to him. God is not “some being almost equal to himself.” This is the most egregious mistake in your portrayal of Christian doctrine.

      If you’re going to argue against Christian doctrine, committing the straw man fallacy is not a very convincing way to do it.

    • You make some very good points and they leave me no doubt you are a good Christian; a person I would love to meet and chat with.

      However, you misunderstood. I speak not of Hitler, nor Mother Teresa. I am not speaking of the choices we make, but of an ill-conceived notion that mankind is basically evil because of original sin. Sorry this concept makes no sense to me.

      Furthermore, you err gravely when you say “JESUS IS GOD INCARNATE.” And that God gave HIMSELF as a ransom, and paid the penalty in full so we could be reconciled to Him and, that this is the epitome of Love. This is more than an outrageous.

      This is definitely is not what Jesus taught us.

      Never did Jesus announce Himself as the Father.
      Never did He say that He came to die for our sins.
      Never did He say that He gave Himself as a ransom.

      No. I am not taking ‘the straw man fallacy.’ You state your position clearly, but I disagree. I think you are seriously mistaken in your concept of who Jesus is. Still, when one disagrees, there is no need to pump on your chest as you have done in your response to me. We are both humans; we can lovingly disagree without trying to usurp the other. Remember what Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    • Of course Jesus would not announce himself as the Father. He is not the Father. He is a person of the Trinity, as the Father is a person of the Trinity. Hypostatic union does not erase the personal distinctions within the Godhead.

      Yes, Jesus did say that his death was a substitutionary ransom: In Mark 14:24, for instance. Besides, you have to totally ignore the first Passover, all of the messianic prophecy that speaks of the Lamb who was slain, and the mention of the slain Lamb in the New Testament. How exactly do you get around all of that?

      Please explain your interpretation of the relationship between Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58 if you do not believe it demonstrates Jesus’ identity as I have portrayed it.

    • In addition, if it is true that God only sent Jesus as a demonstration of love, someone really needs to explain how sending an innocent man to a brutal death for no reason is a demonstration of love to mankind.

  2. Clyde, on what ground can I say that I am not guilty, or that I have never been guilty before God? Being guiltless is not a tenant of the human condition found in the historic evidence of the Christian or Jewish faith, the writings of the early church fathers, the treasured writings of the much older Jewish faith, or of the contemporary bible. In fact, what is seen is the guilt of humanity in all of the sources which could be considered to be used as argument.

    The only source material which can be used to argue the character and nature of the Christian God are sources which clearly speak of a guilty humanity before a guiltless God. To go outside the bible for evidence is to use your manual you received when you bought your microwave to prove the manual for your car is wrong. Certainly this is not what you intend to do. So please tell me on what ground can I say that I am not guilty of my offenses before a just and loving God?

    Modern theology, passed on by non-theologians, and conceived in error can mislead many. Maybe I have been mislead into believing I am guilty. I need to see why you say I am not.

    You say it does not make sense that God would have a standard of behavior, or that violation of that standard would hold eternal consequences for the offender. However, you and I could spend hours quoting Jesus saying many things eluding to the real wrath of God waiting for the faithless. So I can only assume your overall point really is to original sin. In that we can find agreement.

    I am not guilty of the sin in the garden. Nor am I guilty for what my great grandfather has don, any more than I am guilty of the sins of my grand father or my father. My son will not be held accountable for my sins either. However, what I am guilty of was made more likely by the garden. That is to say, not the actual sin, but the nature to reject counsel for the sake of sating personal desire was manifested in human nature more so by action.

    This is a well understood point. If my father smoked, I am more likely to smoke. Yes, we see examples of children being so moved by their parents failings as to run from their crutches, but statistics bare out If my father likes the ‘Astro’s’ rather than the ‘Bluejay’s’ I am more likely to be an ‘Astro’s’ fan. If my father struggled with pornography then I am more likely to struggle with the same, and so on.

    I, as you rightly said, am not guilty of original sin. I am guilty of my actions, my thoughts, and my desires which are contrary to the will of God, whether expressed directly in any writings, or not. If you have evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

    • To: Melissa & Jason,

      I thank you for your thought provoking letters, which I never expected. You are both so kind. Each makes many good points and I can sense your ernest sincerity commingled in each of your words. Further, I can see we are all truth-seekers, looking for the ultimate answers, and as such you asked me for EVIDENCE. You are right to do so. Yet, sometimes, the greatest miracles in our lives are right under our noses, but we are to blind to see. It is my sincerest hope that you will not be too blind to see that the following EVIDENCE, which you asked for, is, and of itself, self-authenticating.

      “MEANING OF THE DEATH ON THE CROSS

      Although Jesus did not die this death on the cross to atone for the racial guilt of mortal man nor to provide some sort of effective approach to an otherwise offended and unforgiving God; even though the Son of Man did not offer himself as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God and to open the way for sinful man to obtain salvation; notwithstanding that these ideas of atonement and propitiation are erroneous, nonetheless, there are significances attached to this death of Jesus on the cross which should not be overlooked. It is a fact that Earth has become known among other neighboring inhabited planets as the “World of the Cross.”

      Jesus desired to live a full mortal life in the flesh on Earth. Death is, ordinarily, a part of life. Death is the last act in the mortal drama. In your well-meant efforts to escape the superstitious errors of the false interpretation of the meaning of the death on the cross, you should be careful not to make the great mistake of failing to perceive the true significance and the genuine import of the Master’s death.

      Mortal man was never the property of the arch deceivers (Satan, Lucifer, etc.). Jesus did not die to ransom man from the clutch of the apostate rulers and fallen princes of the spheres. The Father in heaven never conceived of such crass injustice as damning a mortal soul because of the evildoing of his ancestors. Neither was the Master’s death on the cross a sacrifice which consisted in an effort to pay God a debt which the race of mankind had come to owe him.

      Before Jesus lived on earth, you might possibly have been justified in believing in such a God, but not since the Master lived and died among your fellow mortals. Moses taught the dignity and justice of a Creator God; but Jesus portrayed the love and mercy of a heavenly Father.
      The animal nature—the tendency toward evil-doing—may be hereditary, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child. Sin is the act of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father’s will and the Sons’ laws by an individual will creature.

      Jesus lived and died for a whole universe, not just for the races of this one world. While the mortals of the realms had salvation even before Jesus lived and died on Urantia, it is nevertheless a fact that his bestowal on this world greatly illuminated the way of salvation; his death did much to make forever plain the certainty of mortal survival after death in the flesh.
      Though it is hardly proper to speak of Jesus as a sacrificer, a ransomer, or a redeemer, it is wholly correct to refer to him as a savior. He forever made the way of salvation (survival) more clear and certain; he did better and more surely show the way of salvation for all the mortals of all the worlds of the universe.

      When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature.

      All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that service to one’s fellows is the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The believer’s chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one’s fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men.

      Neither do genuine believers trouble themselves so much about the future punishment of sin. The real believer is only concerned about present separation from God. True, wise fathers may chasten their sons, but they do all this in love and for corrective purposes. They do not punish in anger, neither do they chastise in retribution.

      Even if God were the stern and legal monarch of a universe in which justice ruled supreme, he certainly would not be satisfied with the childish scheme of substituting an innocent sufferer for a guilty offender.
      The great thing about the death of Jesus, as it is related to the enrichment of human experience and the enlargement of the way of salvation, is not the fact of his death but rather the superb manner and the matchless spirit in which he met death.
      This entire idea of the ransom of the atonement places salvation upon a plane of unreality; such a concept is purely philosophic. Human salvation is real; it is based on two realities which may be grasped by the creature’s faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the brotherhood of man. It is true, after all, that you are to be “forgiven your debts, even as you forgive your debtors.”

      LESSONS FROM THE CROSS

      The cross of Jesus portrays the full measure of the supreme devotion of the true shepherd for even the unworthy members of his flock. It forever places all relations between God and man upon the family basis. God is the Father; man is his son. Love, the love of a father for his son, becomes the central truth in the universe relations of Creator and creature—not the justice of a king which seeks satisfaction in the sufferings and punishment of the evil-doing subject.

      The cross forever shows that the attitude of Jesus toward sinners was neither condemnation nor condonation, but rather eternal and loving salvation. Jesus is truly a savior in the sense that his life and death do win men over to goodness and righteous survival. Jesus loves men so much that his love awakens the response of love in the human heart. Love is truly contagious and eternally creative. Jesus’ death on the cross exemplifies a love which is sufficiently strong and divine to forgive sin and swallow up all evil-doing. Jesus disclosed to this world a higher quality of righteousness than justice—mere technical right and wrong. Divine love does not merely forgive wrongs; it absorbs and actually destroys them. The forgiveness of love utterly transcends the forgiveness of mercy. Mercy sets the guilt of evil-doing to one side; but love destroys forever the sin and all weakness resulting therefrom. Jesus brought a new method of living to Urantia. He taught us not to resist evil but to find through him a goodness which effectually destroys evil. The forgiveness of Jesus is not condonation; it is salvation from condemnation. Salvation does not slight wrongs; it makes them right. True love does not compromise nor condone hate; it destroys it. The love of Jesus is never satisfied with mere forgiveness. The Master’s love implies rehabilitation, eternal survival. It is altogether proper to speak of salvation as redemption if you mean this eternal rehabilitation.

      Jesus, by the power of his personal love for men, could break the hold of sin and evil. He thereby set men free to choose better ways of living. Jesus portrayed a deliverance from the past which in itself promised a triumph for the future. Forgiveness thus provided salvation. The beauty of divine love, once fully admitted to the human heart, forever destroys the charm of sin and the power of evil.

      The sufferings of Jesus were not confined to the crucifixion. In reality, Jesus of Nazareth spent upward of twenty-five years on the cross of a real and intense mortal existence. The real value of the cross consists in the fact that it was the supreme and final expression of his love, the completed revelation of his mercy.

      On millions of inhabited worlds, tens of trillions of evolving creatures who may have been tempted to give up the moral struggle and abandon the good fight of faith, have taken one more look at Jesus on the cross and then have forged on ahead, inspired by the sight of God’s laying down his incarnate life in devotion to the unselfish service of man.

      The triumph of the death on the cross is all summed up in the spirit of Jesus’ attitude toward those who assailed him. He made the cross an eternal symbol of the triumph of love over hate and the victory of truth over evil when he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

      That devotion of love was contagious throughout a vast universe; the disciples caught it from their Master. The very first teacher of his gospel who was called upon to lay down his life in this service, said, as they stoned him to death, “Lay not this sin to their charge.”

      The cross makes a supreme appeal to the best in man because it discloses one who was willing to lay down his life in the service of his fellow men. Greater love no man can have than this: that he would be willing to lay down his life for his friends—and Jesus had such a love that he was willing to lay down his life for his enemies, a love greater than any which had hitherto been known on earth.

      On other worlds, as well as on Earth, this sublime spectacle of the death of the human Jesus on the cross of Golgotha has stirred the emotions of mortals, while it has aroused the highest devotion of the angels.

      The cross is that high symbol of sacred service, the devotion of one’s life to the welfare and salvation of one’s fellows. The cross is not the symbol of the sacrifice of the innocent Son of God in the place of guilty sinners and in order to appease the wrath of an offended God, but it does stand forever, on earth and throughout a vast universe, as a sacred symbol of the good bestowing themselves upon the evil and thereby saving them by this very devotion of love. The cross does stand as the token of the highest form of unselfish service, the supreme devotion of the full bestowal of a righteous life in the service of wholehearted ministry, even in death, the death of the cross. And the very sight of this great symbol of the bestowal life of Jesus truly inspires all of us to want to go and do likewise.

      When thinking men and women look upon Jesus as he offers up his life on the cross, they will hardly again permit themselves to complain at even the severest hardships of life, much less at petty harassments and their many purely fictitious grievances. His life was so glorious and his death so triumphant that we are all enticed to a willingness to share both. There is true drawing power in the whole bestowal of Jesus, from the days of his youth to this overwhelming spectacle of his death on the cross.

      Make sure, then, that when you view the cross as a revelation of God, you do not look with the eyes of the primitive man nor with the viewpoint of the later barbarian, both of whom regarded God as a relentless Sovereign of stern justice and rigid law-enforcement. Rather, make sure that you see in the cross the final manifestation of the love and devotion of Jesus to his life mission of bestowal upon the mortal races of his vast universe. See in the death of the Son of Man the climax of the unfolding of the Father’s divine love for his sons of the mortal spheres. The cross thus portrays the devotion of willing affection and the bestowal of voluntary salvation upon those who are willing to receive such gifts and devotion. There was nothing in the cross which the Father required—only that which Jesus so willingly gave, and which he refused to avoid.

      If man cannot otherwise appreciate Jesus and understand the meaning of his bestowal on earth, he can at least comprehend the fellowship of his mortal sufferings. No man can ever fear that the Creator does not know the nature or extent of his temporal afflictions.

      We know that the death on the cross was not to effect man’s reconciliation to God but to stimulate man’s realization of the Father’s eternal love and his Son’s unending mercy, and to broadcast these universal truths to a whole universe.”

    • In other words, “no, you have no verifiable evidence of your position,”
      Got It! My position is supported in the bible, in history, and in the many writings from the historic Jewish faith, as well as the early Christian church fathers. Unlike on other planets, these men had a propensity to write down their thoughts.

      You had me going Clyde. For a while I thought you were serious.

      I think the basic disconnect we are suffering is my ‘primitive’ dependency on actual verifiable historic, or traditionally held, records of the teachings or acts of Jesus. Here on this planet (Yes, I understand limiting my research to what is available on only ‘Earth’ can make me seem a bit like a “planetists”) we tend to look for some tangible evidence for us to make such stands of faith on. In this way, it becomes a reasoned faith.

      We have a God of reason. A God who in all reality invented reason. It is in his will that we exercise reason in our faith. Blind faith in the unseen, such as any evidence from other planets, spheres, worlds, or otherwise, is the stuff jihad is made of. God provided too much for us to only rely on a ‘blind faith.’ If your faith is only a ‘blind faith’ (and I am not assuming it is, I just say “you” in the plural sense. I am quite sure you have traveled to these other worlds and conversed with other Christians there) it is a poor faith indeed, It is a faith which cannot comfort, and more importantly, it is a faith which cannot persuade.

      Thank you for your time, Clyde, however your position is not one I find persuasive at all. I shall go on thinking of Jesus, God, and their relationship to a lost populace and to each other, the same as I have. I will continue to think of them only in the sense of what is available on this sphere.

      Maybe it would be easier to convince the other worlds of our point of view, since we have all these books and stuff.

Comments are closed.