I’ve had the privilege to spend much of the last year with a group of ladies in the study of the Gospel According to Matthew. I appreciate how the title of this book says it’s according to Matthew, because the Holy Spirit gifted Matthew to share the good news of Jesus Christ using his unique personality and gift in writing. We moved week by week covering a chapter at a time, and I was so impressed with how Matthew shaped the story—not changing the facts—in a way that would speak to his predominantly Jewish audience. It truly is a masterpiece to behold.
Early on in our time together, a woman in my particular small group shared how she had begun circling the word behold, and she shared its meaning: Pay careful attention to what is to follow; it’s important.
Behold caught my attention.
I noted that we saw it a lot in the early chapters, noting arriving angels, wise men, and a special star in the sky. Everything indicated by this word meant God was at work; something unique was happening. It had to be noted, and Matthew turned to the word behold.
By the middle of the book, behold highlighted miraculous healings, changed lives, and prophecies that something great was happening among God’s people.
In his last days with his disciples, knowing the cross was near, there are no beholds, only heart-to-heart talks from the Radical Rabbi to his students, who just couldn’t seem to grasp what he was saying about having to die, though he was very clear about it on multiple occasions. Then the betrayer came with a kiss, and their Master was falsely accused, given a farce of a trial, and handed over to the Romans to be crucified by mob rule. No beholds, only sadness and death.
Behold makes a comeback in the end.
Just before the last chapter, Matthew returns to his word to get us to wake up out of our depressed state:
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”Matthew 27:51-54 ESV
It was obvious by this one word, that Matthew wanted us to see the important things that the death of Christ brought, especially that torn veil that stood between God and man. I wrote in my illuminated scripture journal I’d been using: Behold Returns!
But that was not all! In the last chapter, in a story we know by heart and skim over in our reading, behold made me stop in wonder and awe because it returns not once but FIVE times in twenty short verses.
What does behold reveal in this last chapter:
- God sends a great earthquake, and an angel comes to roll back the stone!
- An angel tells the women that Jesus is risen and is going to Galilee where he’ll appear to the disciples!
- Jesus also shows himself to the women as they were going!
- The guards told the chief priests what happened and they were paid off to instead spread a lie!
Then, in the final verse of this amazing book, behold makes its final appearance, as Jesus reminds his disciples:
But BEHOLD had one more thing to reveal and note.
As I read that last verse and saw behold just prior to Jesus saying “I am with you always,” I thought to myself that there was a familiar ring to those words. I flipped all the way back to chapter one of the book where God reveals through Matthew this ultimate conclusion to all we are to behold in this narrative. It was found in the very first use of behold.
“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” (v.20) and told Joseph not to worry about taking Mary as his wife, because “that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” That son would save God’s people from their sin to fulfill these amazing words of Isaiah:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).Matthew 1:23
Behold is all about Immanuel—God will us. Jesus with us—always, to the end of the age.
If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will! BEHOLD!
Grace and peace