“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands…”
While our lesson today is not going to be coming from 1 John 1:1 (as the quotation does), I have always loved and coveted what this verse is describing. In it, John is testifying about the humanity and physical aspect of Christ. And because of that, it is so easy to be green with envy over the fact that John actually got to see the face of Christ. He got to touch, and hear and see this Savior, which is quite compelling. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a headline this morning that a medical artist recently drew the “face of Jesus” according to “Forensic Anthropological” – which seems to indicate that it came about based off of how a typical first century Jewish man would have looked. Needless to say, it was kind of fascinating, even though it truly is impossible to know for sure what His actual face looked like. Some have been kind of broken up about this new face since it doesn’t meet the criteria of the 14th century, European, flawless face that they have come to expect. Yet, what I want us to observe today is the actual Face of Jesus Christ. And more specifically, do we truly want to see the face of Christ Himself, or just a mere representation of what His true face represents?
It seems that Paul was dealing with similar circumstances in the book of 2 Corinthians. In it, we see that Paul is directly talking to false teachers who were trying to sugar/Jewish coat the message of Christ to those Jews who couldn’t swallow the truth about Jesus. In Chapter 3 & 4 we see him talk about how they have “veiled” their faces and their hearts from the truth about Christ. He by no means wants to partake in the same deception; rather Paul shows that as a Christian, we need to see God and His message for what it truly is.
“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
What’s fascinating to think about is that the Israelites were unable to see the face of God when they wished it, because their feeble states could not endure such a massive experience. Yet, Christ was sent to give us something to look at, to see with our eyes. It was an experience that was difficult for Paul to do when he himself was so full of a wrong conviction regarding Christ. It even led to him being blinded by the “Light” that Christ shone on him (Acts 9). Yet, when he was able to see Jesus for what He is, Paul could see the true Christ. Daniel, our minister at the Elm and Hudson Church of Christ, had a fantastic 2 part lesson about ignorance and the importance of growing in a knowledge, understanding, and obedience of Christ and His word. He made the point that it is not so that we can become philosophers, nor to gain a PhD. In short, it is not “know” just to “know” information, but rather to get to know God and His beloved Son. What the Jewish brethren’s problem was (and still seems to be today), is that they have deceived themselves into seeing God as an object of their own opinions and beliefs. Yet, Paul is encouraging them nonetheless to lift the veil and come to see Christ. God’s light of knowledge is something that He has left for us so that we can still to this day, see the “glory” of God, which shows us His true nature and the face of Christ. It is up to us if we have the courage and dedication to observe Him as He was meant to be seen.