It's kind of an interesting word, don't you think? Behold- the way they say "look" in the scriptures. The dictionary definition goes like so:
verb ( past and past part. -held |-ˈheld|) [ trans. ] [often in imperative ] archaic or poetic/literary
see or observe (a thing or person, esp. a remarkable or impressive one)
Nothing too remarkable about that. But here's where it gets cool:
ORIGIN Old English bihaldan, from bi- [thoroughly] + haldan [to hold.]
Now that's something to think about. It is if you're a word nerd like me, anyway. A lot of times we use "behold" as a very passive verb (I could get technical here, but I'll spare you the transitive/intransitive blah blah blah), but I don't think it is.
But more than just that, really see something, look beyond the paint, see past the brushstrokes, and grasp on to the meaning of the painting. Emotion is what reaches off the wall and grabs your attention. Feel what the subject is feeling. One of the most popular scenes in religious art is the Annunciation. Usually I'm not much of a fan of these scenes, with their pious blue-clad Mary, lilies in a vase, and bowing angels with gaudy wings.
I imagine it a little differently. In my mind, the scene looks a little more like this:I imagine a timid Mary, startled by the presence of a heavenly messenger. I imagine she felt stunned as Gabriel told her that she had been chose to carry the Child who would someday save us all. I think she must have been a little afraid to take such a responsibility on her young shoulders. But Mary accepted this amazing calling. I say accepted because I believe she did have a choice. She could have turned away, she could have given in to her fears, she could have said NO.
She didn't. The master painters always portray Mary with that same gentle smile. She glows with patience, love, and most of all, an inner strength. She held Christ in her arms. He, the Savior of the World, was dependent on her for His every need. She accepted that incredible responsibility with a grace that I can only begin to imagine.
Look a little closer. Think a little deeper. Put yourself there, breathe the air, see the sky, be a part of it. Behold the pure white glow of the lilies. Behold the tenderness of Mary. Behold the hesitance of Gabriel.
Behold how much He loves you. Behold how much He wants you to come unto Him.