The Beauty of His Face

We must not gaze only on things which can be seen.

You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your goodness.

   - Psalm 17.14, 15

The beauty of men
shall vanish in old age,
all former comeliness
is wiped away with grief.
The radiance of Christ’s face,
lovely before all things,
is more to be desired
than the frail flower of flesh.


   - Columbanus, Poem on the World’s Impermanence, Irish, 7th century

The apostles Paul and John must have meditated long and hard on the face of Jesus. 

John had actually seen the Savior; we’re not sure about Paul. Paul knew sustaining power in the depths of his heart, where he encountered the glory of God as he contemplated the face of Christ. John eagerly longed for the day when he would see Jesus face to face (1 Jn. 3.2). When he finally did, the experience was overwhelming (Rev. 1).

My sense is that the apostles meant for us to believe that, in some manner, we, too, could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. John’s account in Revelation 1 is a good place to begin in patching together an image of Jesus’ face. We can add other passages in the psalms, prophets, and gospels to gain a clearer portrait (cf. Pss. 2, 45, 47, 110; Dan. 7; Rev. 14). In a larger sense, all of Scripture, being about Jesus (Jn. 5.39), provides a portrait not only of His face, but of His entire being, purpose, attributes, and plan – all of which add texture to the specific descriptions of His face provided in the Word.

Perhaps only the barest outline of the face of Jesus will emerge through our contemplation, yet it promises to thrill us with a radiance that surpasses the greatest beauty our earthly lives have ever known.

Many today are consumed with the future of getting and spending. Their intellectual energies are exhausted, worrying about whether their investments will hold up or their bank will fail. These are legitimate concerns, but they ought not be consuming ones.

Let us not give in to the pressure to fix our gaze only on things that can be seen. There is glory in the face of Jesus, glory that can lift us above our circumstances, renew us in the arena of God’s grace, fill us with hope and boldness, and lead us onto a plane of existence where righteousness, peace, and joy are the order of the day, regardless of our circumstances.

Learn to meditate on the face of Jesus, for, when you do, you are looking into your own future, you are gazing on your eternal destiny. Here you can know satisfaction and peace that transcend the fading flowers of flesh and effect a peace that passes all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Him Who loves and has saved us for Himself.

Psalm 11.1, 2, 7 (Tidings: “O Zion, Haste, Your Mission High Fulfilling”)
Jesus, my Lord, is my eternal refuge!
How can you say, “Friend, flee fast like a bird!
Haste to the hills! The wicked would destroy you!”?
Would you cast doubt on God and on His Word?
  Jesus is righteous, loving the just;
  All will behold His face who on His mercy trust.

O holy Jesus, O gentle Friend, O Morning Star, O mid-day Sun adorned, O brilliant Flame of the righteous, establish me in righteousness to life’s end, and receive me thereafter into Your eternal presence and glory. Adapted from Litany of Jesus II

T. M. Moore, Principal
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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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