Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Face Of Jesus

Down through the ages, skilled artists have attempted to capture the face of Jesus either on canvass or in sculpture. Some have depicted Him in great agony; others with great compassion. Lately, “scientists” have attempted to depict the face of Jesus through forensic reconstruction of first century Semite skulls. Ever since 1898, when Secondo Pia made a negative image of the Shroud of Turin, many people have held it to show the face of the Saviour. But if we really want to see the true face of Jesus, we must go to the Bible. For example…

In Luke 9:51-53, we see the face of Jesus as the face of duty. The Bible tells us that Jesus stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). At that time, our Lord’s death was only a mere six months away in that very city. Furthermore, Jesus knew exactly what was going to befall Him there for He warned His disciples in order to prepare them (Matt. 16:21-23, 20:18, 26:2). The Lord, even with this knowledge, went willingly to the city and to the cross (John 10:18). He could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Himself, but He did not (Matt. 26:53). Though Jesus despised the shame of the cross, He still endured it for the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:1,2). How do we face our duty, however unpleasant it may be, as Christians?

In Matthew 17:2, we see in the face of Jesus the face of majesty. The Bible tells us that Jesus was transfigured and that the “fashion of His countenance [was] altered” and His “Face shown as the sun” (Luke 9:29; Matt. 17:2). At the same time, Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke to Jesus of His impending death (Luke 9:30,31). While Peter tried to honor all three, God spoke with resounding clarity that it was His Son alone Who was to be heard (Mark 9:7; Heb. 1:1,2). When Peter later recalled the incident, he said the apostles were “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Pet. 1:16-21).

Again, we see in the face of Jesus the face of humanity. In Matt. 26:36-(39)-40, the Bible tells us that as Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemene He fell on His face in solemn, ardent prayer. He prayed to the Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” We know of the divinity of Jesus (Matt. 1:23; Phil 2:5ff; Acts 20:28; etc.) but the Bible makes it exceedingly clear that He was also fully human. Paul describes Jesus as praying to God with “strong crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7,8). In these actions, Jesus shows us that He identifies with all our trials and temptations because He, Himself, was human (Heb. 2:14-17, 4:15). “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22).

We see in Jesus also the face of rejection. The Bible tells us His enemies “spit in His face” (Matt. 26:67). Jesus suffered every kind of indignity imaginable. They spit upon Him, smacked Him in the face, left Him unclothed, beat and mocked Him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him (Is. 53). He endured the cross, yes, but He despised the shame (Heb. 12:2). Jesus lived what He taught: “Blessed are ye when ye are persecuted” (Matt. 5:10-12). He suffered for us, leaving us an example (I Pet. 2:21-25).

In Jesus countenance we also see the face of pity. The Bible tells us that Jesus turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61). Peter had earlier affirmed that he would die for the Lord only to be told by the Lord that, on the contrary, that very night he would deny Him thrice. Picture in your mind the “trial” of Jesus. Can you imagine that Jesus and Peter are far apart? There is much going on in the hall. It is full of people. Full of noise. It is unlikely that Jesus could audibly hear what Peter might be saying to any man or maid. But when the cock crew, Jesus turns from His accusers and, knowing just where to look, looks back at Peter across the great hall just after he denied the Lord for the third time (Matt. 26:69-75)! “What a holy power is in this silent glance.”

In the face of the Lord we also see the face of transformational Truth. In the New Testament we behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 3:18). While the Jews still had a veil over their eyes, as did Moses when he came down from the mount, and thus have their minds blinded, we have no such veil but with open face behold the glory of the Lord. We are changed into that same image. God shines in our hearts, through His word, to give light in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6).

Three quick final points. We see in Jesus the face of justice. His face is against them that do evil (I Pet. 3:12). It is not that God cannot hear the sinner, but He does not listen with a view to answering their prayers (John 9:31). In the face of Jesus we see the face of judgement. We are told by John that heaven and earth will flee away from the holy face of Jesus Christ as He sits upon the great white throne to judge the world (Rev. 20:11). Finally, we see in Jesus’ face the face of glory. We shall see His face (Rev. 22:4) and when we do we shall be like Him (I John 3:1-3).

Do you want to know what Jesus looks like? Then look into the mirror of God’s word and be changed into the same image as the glory of the Lord and you will have the “light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 3:18-4:6; James 1:25).

Eric L. Padgett

THE TRANSFIGURATION

Having seen some of the greatest and most astonishing events that human eyes had ever witnessed, it is likely that the apostles would have discussed among themselves the wondrous things which they experienced at Jesus’ side. We, of course, are not privy to the private conversations between the apostles that are not explicitly recorded in the gospel accounts. These private things belong to them and the Lord. Yet, we cannot help but speculate about the kind of lively talk that likely would pass between them after such magnificent events transpired (cf. Mark 9:10). One of these events was the transfiguration.

About a week after Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16-19), Jesus chose Peter, James and John to accompany Him to an high mountain apart by themselves to pray (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28). Which mountain it was, we do not know. Mounts Tabor and Herman have been suggested, but there is simply no way to know for certain. It was probably in the evening, as this was Jesus’ usual time to go into a place alone and pray (cf. Luke 6:12; 21:37; 22:39; Matt. 14:23-24) and the disciples’ eyes were already heavy with sleep. As in the garden of Gethsemene, the apostles were unable to keep themselves awake and fell fast asleep (Luke 9:32).

As Jesus prayed, something magnificent happened. The “fashion of His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29). His face did shine as the sun and His raiment became as white as the light, shining white as snow, “so as no fuller can white them” (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:3). This was not a reflected light from the snow on the mountain top, as some have vainly suggested, but this was an inner light shining forth. It was almost as if His humanity was peeled back and His heavenly glory was allowed to manifest itself, for a time, in this world (Luke 9:32). Perhaps it was the very light of His glory which wakened the sleeping apostles, who had apparently fallen asleep while Jesus prayed.

When the apostles fully awakened, they saw not only the Lord’s glory, but they saw something else happen here, too. As Jesus was transfigured before the apostles’ very eyes, two men appeared with Him, conversing with Him (Luke 9:30). Through some means, the apostles knew almost immediately that the two men were Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:36). Moses, the great lawgiver, and Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament themselves appeared with Jesus in a glorified form (Luke 9:31). While we are not privy to the exact conversation between the Lord and His two Old Testament saints, we do know the subject matter. They spoke to Jesus of His impending death “which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).

At the precise moment that Moses and Elijah were leaving the Lord, Peter, because he did not know what else to do, felt compelled to speak out (Mark 9:6). “Master,” Peter blurted out, “it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Mark 9:5). Peter meant well, but as was sometimes the case, he did not think before he spoke (Luke 9:33). The suggestion of three tabernacles implies that all three would be equally revered, equally honored. But the words that they were soon to hear showed the error of such a course.

Before Peter had even finished speaking, a bright cloud quickly overshadowed them and apparently engulfed them (Luke 9:34; Matt. 17:5). From the midst of this cloud came a voice that was equally unmistakable and equally fearsome, saying “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Luke 9:35). When the disciples heard the voice of God, they fell on their face and trembled with great fear (Matt. 17:5). What kind of thoughts must have flashed through their minds! But as they lay prostrate on the ground, a hand touched them. It was the Lord’s (Matt. 17:7). “Arise,” He said, “and be not afraid.” “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8).

There really can be no doubt as to the significance of this event. God spoke unmistakably clear that the apostles, and now we ourselves, are to listen to the Lord alone. Moses, represented the law; Elijah, the prophets. But they are now gone while the Lord continues to speak through His word. God has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Heb. 1:1,2). The law has been fulfilled by the Lord (Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:44), and hence, He took it out of the way and nailed it to His cross (Col. 2:14).

As Jesus, Peter, James and John descended the holy mount, Jesus charged them that they  should not tell anyone any of the things they had seen until after He was raised from the dead (Mark 9:10). With this they faithfully complied, though they questioned between themselves what it all should mean (Mark 9:10). When Peter later, himself, wrote about these things he observed that he was an eyewitness of His “majesty” and of His “excellent glory” (II Pet. 1:16-18). Therefore, he says, perhaps thinking back to that night to his own experience with Jesus on that mountain, we would do well to take heed, “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (II Pet. 19,20).

We are to hear Jesus and no other.

Eric L. Padgett

DEVILS, DOGS AND CRUMBS

Jesus did not want to be found. He “entered into an house and would have no man know it” (Mark 7:24). This seems a little out of character for the Lord, who was always among the multitudes teaching and working miracles, which by their very nature were designed to bring attention to Himself. But there were occasions when it was necessary for the Lord to keep a lower profile (e.g., Matt. 14:12,13,23). In this instance, the Pharisees had been offended at His teaching and He had withdrawn, perhaps so as not to provoke a confrontation with them just yet (Matt. 15:12).

The house into which Jesus secreted Himself was in the coasts or borders of Tyre and Sidon (Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24). However, Jesus’ fame and reputation had already preceded Him into this land of the Gentiles (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). One of those from those same coasts who knew of Jesus was “a certain woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit” (Mark 7:25). This young girl had been grievously vexed with a devil (Matt. 15:22) and this sad situation must have vexed her loving mother sorely, as well.

She had heard of Jesus’ healing of the sick and His casting out of the devils and she believed He could do the same for her daughter (Mark 7:25). Perhaps she had been among the thousands who had went out to see Jesus do these things and to hear Him teach. When she learned that Jesus had retired to her own region, she sought Him out and, in faith and humility, fell at His feet and asked for His mercy (Mark 7:25; Matt. 15:22). Her love for her daughter and her faith in the Lord must have been great, indeed. As a testimony to her faith, the Holy Spirit records Jesus’ commendation of her “great faith” (Matt. 15:28).

This woman was not a Jewess. She was, in fact, descended from the mortal enemies of the Jews, the Canaanites (Matt. 15:22). She is called a Greek and a Syro-phenician woman by nation (Mark 7:26). While her heritage was of pagan origin, she seems to have had some knowledge of the Messianic hope and placed those hopes in Jesus for she calls Him “Thou Son of David” (Matt. 15:22), a Messianic title. Furthermore, she seems to have some knowledge of Hebrew theology for she attributes her daughters malady to a demon. But Jesus’ response to her indicates she was not a proselyte (Matt. 15:26).

When Jesus did not answer her immediately, the apostles wanted to send her away (Matt. 15:23). Jesus’ response to the disciples request to send the woman away was to say that He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). This may sound, at first, as though it was intended to grant their request. Though she was not a descendant of Abraham by birth, yet by faith she was (cf. Gal. 3:7). She had the faith of Abraham in the Lord’s ability to grant her request. Thus, though she was rebuffed, she persisted in her quest.

While at first she had apparently called to the Lord from some distance (Matt. 15:22), she now came closer and worshiped Him (Mat. 15:25). Her request was simple: “Lord, help me.” Her request was repeated for she “besought” Him (Mark 7:26 – “besought” is in the imperfect tense, indicating she kept at it). The scriptures teach that we should pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). Perhaps she had heard Jesus teach the need to continue instant in prayer (e.g., Luke 18:1-18). Maybe it was just her faith and desire to see her daughter healed that kept her asking. But she persisted!

When Jesus responded that it is not “meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it unto the dogs” (Mark 7:27), she answered yet again and said, “Yes, truth, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs which fall from the master’s table” (Matt. 15:27; Mark 7:28). Jesus’ use of the word “dog” here was not as uncomplimentary as at first might be imagined. The word for “dog” here means “little puppy.” Even the little puppies are allowed a few crumbs and scraps that fall from the table, she said.

The Lord was so impressed with her observation, which revealed her faith, that He acknowledged the greatness of her faith and granted her request (Matt. 15:28). From that very hour her daughter was made whole (Matt. 15:28). The woman obviously believed the Lord’s statement for she ceased to request help and returned back home (Mark 7:30). God does not always answer our requests immediately. He allows us room to grow and for our faith to be revealed. This Gentile woman was and is great example of a loving parent, faith in the Lord and persistence in prayer.

Eric L. Padgett