The Face of Christ
by T. Austin-Sparks
The face of Jesus Christ embraces all that is signified by "the Man Christ Jesus" from eternity to eternity in relation to God's thought, God's will, God's design. It is all behind that face. That is what we mean when we say: Catch a glimpse of the face of Jesus Christ, and you have the wonder of all ages - the glory of God from eternity to eternity in the face of Jesus Christ: the Divine counsels; the creation, the redemption, and the glorification of humanity - of man - in "the Man Christ Jesus."
That is for those who see that Righteous One and hear the voice of His mouth. But for those who through disobedience and unbelief still allow that veil to remain which the god of this age hath cast over the hearts of the unbelieving, God "hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He hath ordained...", (Acts 17:31). For the one, the Man represents the glory of God. For the other, the Man represents the judgment of God. It is to be in and through and by a Man. You see how God has summed up all things in Christ. It is all in the face of Jesus Christ.
I do not know what that conveys to you. Let me make it clear that this is not the fruit of simply sitting down and studying. I did not sit down and study this. It came to me like the passing of something before my heart, and I tell you I was stirred in heart at what I saw to be the meaning of the face of Jesus Christ.
I can understand now why Paul was revolutionized. He saw the face of Jesus Christ. He did not simply see a blazing light on the way to Damascus. He saw the significance of Jesus of Nazareth in the glory - the Man whom he had probably seen in Jerusalem... the Man whom he had hated - had loathed - as a blasphemer, as an apostate... the Man whom he thought had been rightly handled and given His due when He was crucified.
He saw that Man... and what that Man meant as installed in heaven at God's right hand; and there broke upon him something of the significance of Jesus Christ, as he saw the face of Jesus in that eternal, universal, and spiritual sense - that all-inclusive sense. Out from that beholding - for he never stopped beholding inwardly the face of Jesus - there grew and grew the explanation of history, the explanation of the race, the explanation of man, the explanation of human destiny, the explanation of the Cross... this unveiling of things which no man could ever know by reason or study. There came out into the heart of Paul the knowledge of what went on in Divine counsels in eternity of old. It was all seen in the face of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ interpreted everything - explained everything - revealed everything.
This it was that made Paul the man he was. It was this that gave him the power of endurance, the power of suffering, the power of going on. He had seen the face of Jesus Christ... and what a realm, what a wealth, what fulness was in that face!
He says, "We have this ministry" (2 Cor. 4:1). What ministry? Why, this: God hath "shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Our ministry is simply to tell what we have seen in that face - the meaning of Jesus Christ - "the Man Christ Jesus" - the amazing wonder of a Man! Yes, not forgetting all that is extra to that - and ever was, and ever will be - of Godhead... but in the light of that, the amazing wonder of a Man!
I confess to you that while I glory in Christ as Son of God... and while I glory in Him as very God, and in God as God... the real wonder of it all only comes to me as I see that wealth of glory coming down into the face of a Man - as I see that expressed in a Man - all taken up in a Man. Yes, Man of my manhood, but different! Man torn with all my passions, and yet without sin in Himself! That is to say, a Man beset by all my temptations, and knowing what it is to have to battle with that pressure which comes upon us in order to overwhelm us.
In our case much of it arises from within; but, oh, we do know to some extent what it is to have that pressure come upon us from without and to have something evil impinging upon us. He knew the full force of that as you and I have never known it - the impingement of universal evil to try to make Him think other than He would think, act other than He would act, and choose other than He would choose... and that under all manner of circumstances which would facilitate the temptation and the tempter.
Yes, a Man has triumphed. A Man has taken up the fight. A Man has come through. A Man has realized in humanity God's end in Himself and taken that perfected humanity back into the glory... and is installed and related. And now by the blessed Eternal Spirit, through faith, we are joined to that Man - joined to Him one spirit - to be one Body, one glorified humanity eventually, of which we now have the earnest in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
It is marvelous! It is beyond our apprehension, our power of expression! Oh, that the Lord would open our hearts - yea, break them open and give us a new apprehension and grasp of the meaning of the face of Jesus Christ! Dwell upon that, and ask the Lord continually to shine in, shine in, shine in... to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Son of Man! Do you notice where He took that title? He asked: "Who do men say that I am?" Elijah! One of the prophets of old! "But who say ye that I am." "The Christ of God!" Then He commanded them to tell no man but to keep that to themselves - to keep that covered. That was something which for the moment was to be suspended. At that point, for the first time, He took to Himself the title, "Son of Man" - "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected... and killed."
What is the import of this? Oh, He has leaped over the bounds of Messiahship. "The Christ of God!" That is all right for Israel, but He has gone beyond Israel now. Israel is refusing their Messiah. The title "Son of Man" passes far beyond the bounds of Israel and is the racial representation. Not Israel, but all men - He is the worldwide, universal Son of Man.
How? By the Cross. The Christ has leaped over all the limitations of nationality, even of Israel, and has bounded the range of humanity. He took the title "Son of Man" as Israel refused their Messiah and the Cross came into view. He saw that the Cross was leading to a baptism of passion, which would mean a baptism of fire into all the earth. Not to Israel now! Say nothing about that! This is not the time to preach Israel's Messiah! The time has now come into view when by the Cross all men are coming into God's eternal thought.
The Lord open our hearts to see the face of Jesus Christ.