Over the years many people have tried to portray features of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether that be in books, films, pictures, or paintings, but we can search in vain in the Gospels for any description of His physical features. In this meditation, I would like to consider the mention of His face to draw us to His blessed person.
In the narrative of Luke chapter 9 verses 51 to 53 and chapter 10 verse 1, the Lord is sending messengers before ‘to make ready for him’, v. 52. Sadly, the Samaritans did not receive Him because His face was steadfastly set to go to Jerusalem. Despite the rejection of men, the Lord’s resolve was to go to Jerusalem, ‘knowing all things that should come upon him’, John 18. 4. Even at the age of twelve, He said to Mary and Joseph, ‘wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business’, Luke 2. 49. Later, He said, ‘not my will, but thine, be done’, Luke 22. 42. Our Lord came to do the Father’s will and that meant His journey from the cradle to the cross. The goal of His life was to give His life. He had a fixed purpose and a fixed pathway.
When Peter, James and John were present on the mount [a high mountain and, perhaps, a night scene] where He was transfigured,1 all three Gospel writers make mention of His raiment being white, but Matthew records, ‘his face did shine as the sun’, 17. 2. What a sight for these three disciples, to behold the Saviour, to see His glory and a preview of His future glory. He was the central figure. In that scene, we might meditate upon:
What a contrast between the two scenes in Matthew chapter 17. The first, on the mountain, ‘This is my beloved Son’, v. 5; the second, down from the mountain, ‘Lord have mercy on my son’, v. 15.
As we move nearer to Calvary, we come to the scene in Gethsemane’s garden and, leaving the other disciples, Peter, James and John were taken further into the garden. Then, the Lord ‘went a little further, and fell on his face’, Matt. 26. 39. In supplication, as He contemplated the events closing in on Him, He said, ‘not what I will, but what thou wilt’, Mark 14. 36. As believers, we are so thankful that the Lord went ‘a little further’ to deal with the matter of our sins.
As Matthew’s account proceeds, he records, ‘they spit in his face’, 26. 67,and again, in chapter 27 verse 30, ‘they spit upon him’. It was Isaiah who prophesied of these insults, ‘I hid not my face from shame and spitting’, 50. 6. Let us just pause and consider that down the blessed face of our Saviour there was the foul spittle of men, yet the Lord had told His disciples that this is what people would do to Him, Luke 18. 32. What a sign of man’s utter contempt for the Saviour.
The Gospels also record that our Lord’s face was buffeted and smitten.2 They struck him on His face. The men of the day did their worst to Him. The people averted their gaze from Him, Isa. 53. 3. He was totally rejected and despised.
As we close this meditation, let us think of a different scene. As John closes his book, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he tells us, ‘they shall see his face’, Rev. 22. 4. Our faces will gaze upon His, the Lord’s, for all eternity. In the first chapter of the book, John says something of that face, in His vision of the glorified Christ, ‘his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength’, 1. 16. John ‘fell at His feet as dead’, v. 17. It is nearly 2,000 years since the Lord was seen on this earth, but He is coming, and we shall see Him.
‘By and by when I look on His face,
Beautiful face, thorn shadowed face,
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more’.
[Grace Reese Adkins]