Looking upon You (4)
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ…Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4.6, 16-18
To see Jesus
It is beyond dispute here that Paul encourages us to seek the face of Jesus, that we might see the glory of God radiant there, and that, seeing that unseen wonder, we might be renewed day by day in our inner person. Concerning Paul’s statement here, Calvin wrote, “Observe the expression, looking at the things which are unseen, for the eye of faith penetrates beyond all our natural senses, and faith is also on that account represented as a looking at things that are invisible” (Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4.18).
It is with the eye of faith that we look upon “things that are invisible”, including the radiant face of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot see His face with our physical eyes; however, when the Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, and the Light of Jesus in wisdom and revelation begins to illuminate our soul, we can see Jesus, and we can see and enter the glory of God that is to be found in His face, with renewing grace and power.
Scripture consistently urges us to form within our hearts and minds a vision of the Lord, exalted in glory. That vision comes through the words recorded by those who have seen the Lord, such as Isaiah and John, as well as those through whom the Lord has spoken and described what He intends for us to see, such as David and other psalmists.
The key to inward renewal, renewal that empowers us to overcome all the afflictions, obstacles, fears, uncertainties, doubts, and trials of our lives in this material world, comes from looking “at the things which are not seen”, beginning with the radiant face of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus sees us at all times. He looks upon us with the face of the Good Shepherd, as He searches hearts and minds to bring refreshment and renewal to our souls. But if we refuse to look on Him as He looks upon us, how can we expect to know the kind of day-by-day renewal and transformation Paul promises here and elsewhere (cf. 2. Cor. 3.12-18)? Yes, looking on unseen things with the eye of the heart is not easy. It does not come naturally to us. We’re going to have to work at it, until we train our vision of Jesus to line up with what is revealed in the Word of God.
Indeed, it is only as we practice this discipline that we increase in the image of Jesus and thus realize the very reason for our salvation. As Nicholas of Cusa prayed, “Thus my God, Thou art at once invisible and visible. Thou art invisible in regard to Thine own Being, but visible in regard to that of the creature, which only existeth in the measure wherein it beholdeth Thee.” We only truly live to the extent that we see Jesus, radiant in glory.
The glory in His face
The apostle John saw the radiance of Jesus’ face twice – first, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and second, while he was on the Isle of Patmos. That second vision of the exalted Christ is worth reviewing: “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1.12-16).
The picture of Jesus’ face could not be more vivid. His head and hair were purest white, “like wool, as white as snow”. His eyes glowed “like a flame of fire”. And “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” Jesus revealed Himself to John in images of extraordinary radiance and brilliance. Have you ever gazed in wonder on the smooth surface of freshly fallen snow? Ever admired the clean white softness of a sheepskin rug? Gazed in ecstasy into a flickering campfire? Or dared for even a moment to turn your eyes upon the noontime sun? Can you imagine yourself doing those things, and seeing within them, all together in one compelling vision, the familiar features of the Good Shepherd, looking in His radiance into the eyes of your heart?
This is what John saw, and Jesus explicitly instructed him to “Write the things which you have seen” (v. 19). And John promised, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1.3).
Would you see Jesus?
Paul was able to see this glorious and radiant face of Jesus. He saw Him with the eyes of His heart. And he expected those who read his words to imitate him, even in such matters as this (1 Cor. 11.1).
When we come to Jesus in prayer, we must concentrate according to His Word, waiting on the Lord to open the eyes of our heart, so that we may see beyond the veil into the realm of unseen things, and glimpse, if not behold, the purity, radiance, brilliance, and fiery gaze of the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. Linger there. Force your mind to focus on this unseen reality, so clearly and compellingly described by John and others. Tune your heart to love this vision, to delight in it, and to draw closer to it, seeking the blessing of inward renewal that Paul promises.
The vision of Jesus’ face will illuminate any aspect of your soul in need of cleansing and renewal. In His loving, shepherding gaze, you can confess your sins without fear, rest in the filling of Jesus’ Spirit, and see yourself reflected in Him, and being made more like Him day by day.
Don’t be put off by what you may consider the strangeness of this discipline. Do not allow unfamiliarity with meditating on the beauty of the Lord (Ps. 27.4) keep you from straining and striving to keep your focus and improve your vision of Jesus. Say to the Father, “Father, I would see Jesus,” and to Jesus, “Lord, show me Your glory,” and to the Spirit, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord” as you work to see into the Presence of the Lord and to enter His glory.
If you would see Jesus, you must see Him where He is and as He is. And this begins with seeking the face of Him Who sees you at all times.
1. Do you expect to be able to see Jesus as John and Paul described Him?
2. What will seeing Jesus like this require of you in your times of prayer?
3. Do you think your walk with Jesus would be affected by having this vision of Him firmly etched into your soul? Explain.
Next steps – Transformation: Begin today working to gain and sustain this vision of the radiant face of Jesus.
Check out our three new audio resources at the Ailbe website: Our bi-weekly podcast, our weekly Personal Mission Field Workshop, and our newest weekly podcast, The InVerse Theology Project.
You can also now listen, each Lord’s Day, to a weekly summary of our daily Scriptorium study, which is presently working through the book of Jeremiah. Click here for last week’s summary of Jeremiah 16 and 17.
Visit The Ailbe Bookstore to discover the many resources to help you grow in Lord, or to use with your group in realizing together more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
We hope you find ReVision to be a helpful resource in your walk with and work for the Lord. If so, please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers and listeners to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online via PayPal, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.