Jesus Our Lord – His Face
April 13th, 1981 @ 12:00 PM
2 Corinthians 4:6
JESUS OUR LORD: HIS FACE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 4:6
4-13-81 12:00 p.m.
And how welcome you are to this noonday service. Remember it is a busy lunch hour and any time you have to leave you feel free to do so. You won’t bother me at all, and everybody will understand. When you invite others to come to this service, if they can stay just for a moment, they’re so welcome. It will do their hearts good to make their way to the house of the Lord.
It is almost impossible for me to realize that this is the thirty-seventh year that I have conducted these noonday services. In the first many years, possibly thirty of them or more, they were conducted in a downtown theater. But when the theaters were torn down, why, we moved the services to this sanctuary. And at high noon each day this week we’ll be gathered here in this dear place.
The theme of the messages this pre-Easter week is “Our Lord Jesus.” Tomorrow, His Shoulders; and “the government shall rest upon His shoulders” [Isaiah 9:10]. And on Wednesday, His Hands; on Thursday, His Tears; and on Friday, His Wounds, His Blood. And today: His Face.
In the fourth chapter of the 2 Corinthians letter, in the sixth verse, is one of the most beautiful sentences in the Bible. Second Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” You could study that sentence a lifetime and it would still bear meaning to our souls: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 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].
A painter, drawing the figure of our Lord holding the chalice, the communion cup, in His hand, placing it on display, listened to the people as they commented in passing by. And the people, looking at the painting, remarked upon that beautiful cup, that marvelous chalice. And when the exhibition was over, the painter said, “But they never saw the face of my Lord. They just saw the cup.” And he painted it out and started over again, this time to magnify the face of our Lord Jesus.
“The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6]. There are three glories that are spoken of in Holy Scripture. One: there is the glory of the achievements of man. In the third and final temptation of our Lord in the wilderness, Satan showed our Savior [Matthew 4:8]; all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them passed in review before the eyes of our Savior: the glory that was Rome; the glory of Paris; the glory of London; the glory of New York; the glory of Washington; the man-made glory, the achievements of men.
A second glory mentioned in the Bible is the glory of God in the world He created. Psalm 19:1 begins: “For the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” Creation. The garments of the Lord, the flowing raiment of the Almighty with which He clothes Himself: the glory of creation in nature.
The third glory is the glory that is so beautifully presented in this text: the glory of God in the presence and in the person and in the people of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 4:6]. The context that led to the writing of this sentence is found in the verses above. Paul has mentioned the shining in the face of Moses [2 Corinthians 3:13-16], when after forty days he communed with God and came down from the mountain: “He wist not that his face shone” [Exodus 34:28-29]. And Moses had to cover his face when he talked to the people, because of the glory of God shining in his face [Exodus 34:33].
But the apostle Paul says that he covered his face also that the people might not see the end of the fading glory [2 Corinthians 3:13]. It was but for a moment that the light shined in the face of the great lawgiver Moses. But the light that shines iridescent in the face of our Lord never passes away [2 Corinthians 4:6]. It abides forever. It is unchanging.
I can imagine the hills growing old and dissolving to the plain. I can imagine the rivers exhausting themselves as they are emptied into the sea. I can imagine the stars growing old and fading like the closing and burning of a candle. I can imagine the very sun turning ashen and dark and going out. But I could never imagine the light fading from the face of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 4:6].
The stars shine over the ocean.
The stars shine over the sea.
The stars look down on you.
The stars look down on me.
The stars have shined a million years.
A million years and a day.
But our glorious Lord will live and reign
When the stars have faded away.
“The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6]. It is a glory of transfiguration. The Scriptures say that, when He went up into the mount and prayed, that the countenance of His face became bright, like the shining of the sun, and He was transfigured in prayer and intercession before His disciples [Luke 9:29-31; Matthew 17:1-2].
On the road to Damascus, a brilliant figure appeared to Saul of Tarsus in the way. And the Bible says, blinded by the glory of that light, the arch-persecutor fell at the feet of that marvelous figure and cried, “Who art Thou, Lord?”
And He replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest” [Acts 22:6-8], the glory of Christ.
In the first chapter of the Apocalypse is one of the most beautiful of all the descriptions in the Word of God. The sainted apostle John, exiled on Patmos [Revelation 1:9], turns to see the voice that spoke to him:
And being turned, he saw seven golden lampstands—representing the churches of our Savior.
And in the midst of the lampstands, One like unto the Son of God . . .
His feet burned like brass in a furnace
His eyes were as a flame of fire.
[from Revelation 1:12-15]
“And His face did shine as the sun” in its glory [Matthew 17:2]. “The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6]. The glory of God in the face of our Lord in His sympathetic and compassionate ministries. I wish I could have seen our Savior when He took little children in His arms and blessed them [Mark 10:16]. How His face must have shined! I wish I could have seen our Lord when He opened the eyes of the blind [Matthew 9:27-30], when He touched the sick, and they were whole again [Matthew 9:20-23], when the leper was cleansed, just by the warmth of His hand [Matthew 8:2-3].
You know, I have thought, if an angel were to come to me, and say, “You may have your request. You can stand in the presence of any great man of antiquity, in his greatest and most triumphant moment. What would you choose?”
I would like to have seen Euclid teaching the young Ptolemy geometry. I would love to have heard Homer recite The Iliad or The Odyssey. I would love to have heard Demosthenes before the Athenian assembly, in his Philippics against the king of Macedon. I’d love to have been present when Miltiades overwhelmed the Persians on the field of Marathon. I’d love to have been there when Alexander the Great conquered Darius, or when Caesar came back in triumph, conquering all Gaul, or when Cicero or Scipio spoke of their triumph over Hannibal and the Carthaginians.
But, of all the moments of history—if the angel would give me choice—I would love to have been there any day, any moment, and have seen the face of our Lord when He blessed a child [Mark 10:16]; or preached to the poor, or healed the sick, or raised the dead [Matthew 11:5].
“The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6]. No less glorious in His humiliation. They spit in His face, they smote His face [Matthew 27:30]. They plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]. They blindfolded Him, and striking Him said, “You prophet, who is it that struck Thee? What’s my name?” [Luke 22:64]. They crowned Him with thorns [Matthew 27:29], and blood trickled down His face. But it was glorious in suffering and humiliation.
To the left of my study desk is a large painting: an Ecce Homo, an Idou ho Anthropos, a Behold the Man [John 19:5], with Pilate standing before the maddening throng, and pointing to the blessed Lord with His crown of thorns and His purple robe. I look at that picture a thousand times, a thousand times. It’s right there at my study desk, painted by Vincenzo Binanchini, a great Italian artist.
Why, out of all of the paintings of humanity and of all the scenes in the world, would I choose that painting to be there by my study desk? There’s a glory in the face of our Lord, even in His humiliation and in His suffering.
“The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:6], in His final appearing. The Scriptures use an unusual word for that. They call it the parousia, literally “the presence,” the appearing of our Lord, when He comes to earth again. His face and His presence will shine. The text of the Apocalypse is Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds: and every eye shall see Him.” Those are not clouds of mist, of dew, of rain. That’s the Shekinah glory of God. Behold, He comes in the strength of the brightness, of the glory of God, when He comes—when He comes [2 Thessalonians 2:8].
For a while, there belonged to our dear church Dr. W. R. White and his gifted wife, for so many years president of Baylor University. I never had a dearer friend than Dr. White. One time he said to me—he said, “An old friend of mine lay dying, and I went to see him. And when I walked into the room, he said to me, ‘Billy, would you walk from that side of the room to this side?’”
And Dr. White said, “I walked from that side to this side, and his eyes followed me. When I got to the other side of the room he said, ‘Billy, would you turn around and walk from that side of the room to that side?’” And Dr. White said, “I turned around and walked from there to there. Then he said, ‘Would you draw up this chair and sit down by my bed?’”
And seated, his old friend said to Dr. White, “I know you must think that I’m crazy. But, that’s why I asked you to walk there and there and be seated here: because I thought maybe I was crazy. But I just wanted to be sure that I had my senses, and that I could see sanely.” Then he added, “Billy, I just saw the face of Jesus Christ welcoming me home.”
No need of the sun in Heaven I’m told;
The Lamb is the Light in the city of gold,
O come to the light, ‘tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has shined upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The light of the world is Jesus!
[“The Light of the World is Jesus,” Philip P. Bliss]
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 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].
So Lord, we bow in Thy presence. And may the fullness of the light of the revelation of God in Christ our Lord be our strength and our promise, for the way, for the day, for the now, for the forever, until that glorious convocation to which we, being joined, shall give us opportunity to praise Thee face-to-face, forever and ever, amen.
I. The Scriptures speak of three glories
glory of human achievement(Matthew 4:8)
glory in God’s creation (Psalm 19:1)
glory of God in the presence, person and people of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6)
mentions the face of Moses after he communed with God(Exodus 34:29)
Moses covered his face, that the people might not see the end of the fading
The glory in the face of our Lord never passes away
II. Glorious in transfiguration
the mount as He prayed (Matthew 17:1-2, Luke
To Saul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-8,
John on the isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:12-17)
III. Glorious in redemptive love
In His sympathetic and compassionate ministries
children, healing the sick, raising the dead
IV. Glorious even in humiliation
in His face, plucked out His beard, crowned Him with thorns
Vincenzo Binanchini’s “Ecce Homo”
V. Glorious in His appearing
– literally “the presence”(Revelation 1:7)
Dr. W. R. White
Poem, “The Light of the World is Jesus”