Chapter 41 The Face Of Jesus

God…hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

By “face” is meant that which is visible—that by which a person is known. God has made Himself known to us in the face of Jesus Christ, who has shined into our hearts. But a face changes its form and feature in differing circumstances, and thus we have different views of our Lord’ s face according to the particular occasion.

A Kingly Face

“Art Thou a king?” asked Pilate of our Lord, and the Lord answered, “To this end was I born” (John 18:37). He came into this world with royal office and character, the Father’s chosen, approved and appointed King. Scripture refers to Him as “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16) and as “The Prince of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). Psalm 2 tells us of earth’s final confederacy against the Lord and His anointed (Christ). But God, we read, looks upon His enemies with holy derision—laughs at their folly—and treats their impotency with holy sarcasm, because, said He, “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.”

The Lord Jesus is King over His enemies. That is why thirty Roman emperors and chief men of the realm died miserable deaths in a very short period of time, among them Julian the apostate who died screaming, “O Thou Galilean, Thou hast conquered!” Jesus is also King of saints—ruling in their hearts by beneficent grace and guarding them from the powers of darkness. He is now “crowned with glory and honor” in heaven above and when we see Him at His return He will be seen with a most majestic face—the Father’s appointed King.

A Stem Face

“Thou hast…hated iniquity,” says Hebrews 1:9. We see the sternness of His face in His confrontation with those who had defiled the temple and when He drove out all: men and cattle and sheep with a whip, saying, “Make not My Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). It is part of the glory of God to hate iniquity and to drive it from His holy presence. His face was surely stern when He drove out Satan from the heaven of heavens, when that once anointed cherub grasped at Godhood. His face was stern, too, when He drove Adam and Eve from Eden’s paradise after they had disobeyed His one prohibition and avowed the principle of independence.

A Marred Face

The glory of God is most clearly displayed at the Cross. It is said in Luke 22:64 that “they struck Him on the face”—that is, they kept on striking Him. In the Spirit of prophecy, Isaiah puts these words on our Lord’s lips, “I gave…My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair” (Isaiah 50:6). How painful that must have been and with all His beard plucked out He must have looked a pathetic sight. Matthew 26:67 tells us that “They spit in His face” —that is, they did the most despicable of all acts when they covered His infinitely lovely face with human spittle. Then they crowned His sacred head with thorns—the mark of the curse—the thorns being three inches long and which pierced His brow.

Look well at that marred visage. The more you see, the more you will love; and the more you love, the more you will praise; and the more you praise, the more will your heart expand and be filled with gratitude.

A Sympathetic Face

“And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). The Saviour here was looking over Jerusalem and His sorrow was profoundly and infinitely deep as He mourned their rejection of Him. “If thou hadst known … at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” What sorrow! His eyes were watered with tears as He sorrowed over man’s ruined state and the impending destruction of the city which had been God’s chosen place for His Self-manifestation.

Our Lord has passed through all human trials. Some of His people may have strayed away from Him—some ceased to watch and pray—some disquieted as the heavens seem as brass—some dispirited because their pilgrimage is long or their adversaries many—or their strength totters—troubles multiply—afflictions break upon them - health fails like a fading flower—earthly possessions crumble and decay. But Jesus’ face is full of sympathy. No one of His redeemed has ever been absent from His heart—His care— His concern. All that He is, and all that He has, and all that He has done, and all that He is doing, and all that He will do, is yours. He loves you dearly and His face shows that love and sympathy for you.

A Glorious Face

“His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:16). This was the vision of the exalted Lord given to John on the isle of Patmos. How important it is to see something of His glorious face, even though, as yet, it be through a glass darkly. We have seen Him in His life and walk on earth as the Lamb of God—in His varied ministries of grace which flowed from Him—in His service of love when He stooped even to wash His disciples’ feet—in the intimacies with which He loved His own. Oh! but to see Him in vision as here—highly exalted and glorified. What beatific vision! And some day we shall “see Him as He is” —the Altogether Lovely—exceedingly desirable to all believers—wondrous in majesty—transcendent in excellence—infinite in perfections—radiant in His grace and virtues. Oh, bless the Lord! Bless ye the Lord!

Give me a sight, O Saviour,
Of Thy wondrous love to me,
Of the love that brought Thee down to earth,
To die on Calvary.

O make me understand it,
Help me to take it in,
What it meant for Thee, the Holy One,
To bear away my sin.

Was it the nails, O Saviour,
That bound Thee to the tree?
Nay, ’twas Thine everlasting love,
Thy love for me, for me.

Then melt my heart, O Saviour,
Bend me, yea, break me down,
Until I own Thee Conqueror,
And Lord and Sovereign crown.

—Katherine A. M. Kelly