What I learnt from "Britain's Got Talent"

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It’s one of those words.
So archaic, so religious – like “verily” or “thee” and “thine”.  
We don’t talk that way anymore.

But that’s a shame. Because the meaning of “behold” will take your breath away – like each judge’s breath was taken away on Britain’s Got Talent.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Behold” often appears in the older translations of the Bible: “Behold” the apostle John wrote, “what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1 NKJV)”  

Most modern bible translations have either removed the word “behold” or replaced it with words that may leave the reader in ignorance as to what the writer intended. That’s because “behold” is the Greek word “idou” which is difficult to translate from Greek to English as it carries intense feeling and emotion. No single English word fits but “idou” carries the idea of shock, amazement and wonder. Today, “behold” might be better translated, Wow!1  It’s something like the awe we experience when we view a beautiful painting, gaze into the starry heavens  or... witness something extraordinary on the reality programme Britain’s Got Talent.

Perhaps you saw it.  A little middle-aged lady strode purposefully onto the stage and introduced herself as Susan Boyle. The judges took one look at her and rolled their eyes at each other dismissively. Many in the audience smirked and giggled. Some shouted at Susan even before she started singing. But when she burst into a stunning rendition of the famous “I Dreamed A Dream” the judgmental laughter and scorn immediately dissipated. The judges were astonished. They gasped momentarily, lost in wonder. The audience responded to the excellence and beauty by jumping to their feet and cheering. 2

When judge Piers Morgen finally caught his breath he said this audition was “without a doubt the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show. That was stunning, an incredible performance. Amazing. I’m reeling from shock. I can’t believe it!” The rarely complimentary Simon Cowell called the performance “extraordinary”. “I am so thrilled,” said fellow judge Amanda Holden, “I got goose pimples!”  

“Susan Boyle,” wrote a journalist, “let me feel, for the duration of one blazing show-stopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defences. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective.”

Even Cameron MacIntosh, producer of Les Miserables, pronounced himself “gob-smacked” by the performance, calling it “one of the best versions of the song I’ve ever heard.”

Gob smacked. Goose bumps.  Awe. Beauty.  Breathtaking.  Inspiring.  Behold.

When I saw the reaction of the judges and the audience I got a glimpse of what “behold” means. Through the awe and the beauty and the tears there was a connection – a connection that reached right into the heart. Such human feelings are gifts that God has given to us, and I believe we can see them as pointers to the reality of who God is and who we are because of what God has done.   

Thank you judges. The eyes of my heart have been enlightened. No longer do I see “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!,” as I did before. I can now exclaim “Will you look at this amazing, stunning, out- of- the-world love that God is sharing with us? That we should be called the children of God, and that’s what we are. ‘Children of God’ is not simply a high-sounding name that we bear; it’s a reality! It’s a gift from God! Can you believe that? That’s breathtaking!  Staggering!  Behold this awesome love of God!”


1  Renner, Rick: Sparkling Gems from the Greek
2 You will find Susan Boyle’s audition on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk


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