The declaration by Pilate “Here is the man!” (Jn 19: 5) is not a superficial statement in the sense, “poor man” or “really a man”. The reference is to Jesus who is flogged, tortured, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. A Jesus who has identified himself with the human nature in its perfect form, a broken, weak, formless Jesus. But he is the Messiah, the Suffering Servant of God, the Son of God, and then the Son of Man who will come to judge the world at the end time. This is a synthesis of the various dimensions of the Christological identity of Jesus.
The background in the Old Testament is based on four texts. They are:-
- Zechariah 6: 12; “Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch; for he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.”
- 2 Samuel 7: 12-13; “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”
- Numbers 24: 17; “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a sceptre (a man = anthropos, LXX) shall rise out of Israel”.
- Daniel 7: 13; “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven and there came one like a son of man” (Hyios anthropos, Gk).
All these texts are traditionally messianic as interpretation. The rebuilding of the temple as mentioned in two texts was already mentioned in John 2: 19-22. That Messiah will rebuild the temple was part of messianic expectation and a blessing, making part of the eighteen benedictions. So, Pilate becomes a medium for the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah to the people. Jesus the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, King, and Judge.
In another moment of the dialogue, Jesus clarifies to Pilate who claims to have power over him that God is the source of all authority and that everything is being unfolded according to his design and plan.