Behold THE Face to Meet All Faces

“Because Jesus Christ alone is the Lord of glory, we are to reject the kinds of pretense and discrimination toward other people that depend on a working theory of our own personal superiority.  Because of His glory, we are able to relax, without the need to impress other people with our glory.  This becomes for us a reason for humility and an altogether healthy antidote to pretentiousness or discrimination toward others.
I know One who deserves the glory, so my head is not so easily turned by the lesser luminosities of life.”
Earl Palmer

“The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes,
the more will everything else between us recede,
the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and His work become the one and only thing that is vital between us”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What’s Your Destiny?

Isaiah 40:5 “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

We are all on a quest to find and fulfill our destiny. The soul-searching question of Forrest Gump has challenged every thinking human being: “What’s my destiny, Momma?” When Forrest rescued Lt. Dan from certain death on the battlefield, Dan furiously rages, “I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field with honor.” Forrest’s mom philosophizes on her deathbed about the subject of one’s destiny: “Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

In this statement, Forrest’s mom neither plumbed the depths of the hard-core realities of life nor the heights of its consummation. Life for you may or may not be a box of sweet chocolates. However, the scriptural bottom line is this: You can know what you are gonna get!

Our text today summarizes our destiny in one word: glory. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together (v. 5). How can we be so sure that Handel is right in believing that the glory of the Lord referenced here speaks of none other than Jesus Christ?

Isaiah 40:3 claims there will be a voice of a prophet calling out in the wilderness and then the glory will be revealed. Who was that voice? All four gospel writers declare it was John the Baptizer. If John is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Jesus is Yahweh (the Lord). He’s the same God who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. Please consult the following Scriptures that confirm this (John 1:14, 2:10, 11:40, 12:41; Hebrews 1:3; and 2 Corinthians 4:6).

In John 17:24, Jesus prays for all of those who will believe in Him through the word of the Apostles: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Seeing and experiencing Jesus’ glory is the destiny of all who believe in Him as Lord. One day we will receive our summons by the Lord at our death or at His coming and we will go to be with Christ forever. C.S. Lewis states beautifully the need and the result of this moment in his book “The Weight of Glory”: “Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”

 

Jesus’ Ultimate Desire for You – Part 2

 

Jesus prays in John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus gives us his reason for why he wants you to be with him: “That they may behold my glory which you have given me…”

Jesus Desires Your Presence so that You Might See His Glory. That all the given ones might dwell in his immediate presence forever in order that they might delight forever in the glory of God in Christ… a vision that begins here on earth (2 Corinthians 3:18) and reaches its climax in heaven.

It is interesting to note that Jesus taught and modeled for his disciples that real glory consists in gladly taking the lowly place and serving others. But here Jesus wants us to see that that is not the whole story. There is coming a day when we will see and experience the transcendent, majestic, awe-inspiring glory of our Lord. It is only as we are with Jesus that we will see and experience this glory.

Well, we must ask ourselves a basic question: What is glory? Glory is the outward radiance of the intrinsic beauty and greatness of Jesus Christ in his manifold perfections. We catch glimpses of His glory during our earthly lives (1:14; 2:11; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:6), but there is a yet more complete vision of his glory that awaits believers. John later says that at his coming “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4).

Since heaven is to be spent beholding and marveling at the glory of Jesus, would pray for the Lord to awaken your desire to behold and experience a taste of His glory and beauty now on earth? Would you pray along with King David: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

Does the desire of the patriarch Job resonate with your spirit? “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

Take a moment to reflect on these words that set forth the desire of the Apostle Paul. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:21,23). “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

One Key Use of John 17:24: Let it comfort you when you are called upon to release someone you love to Jesus at the time of their death. Jesus wants them to be with him. That is why Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” We should see the deaths of our Christian loved ones and of ourselves as the Father’s answer to his Son’s prayer. Jesus is taking his own to be with him where he is and now they behold the fair beauty of their Lord not just by faith but now by sight.

John Knox had this passage of Scripture (John 17) read to him every day while he was on his deathbed. It is not hard to imagine why this last section would have been particularly comforting to him. For here we read of Jesus’ burning passion for our presence. He wants you to be with him and see his glory. Heaven would not be the same with your absence. He makes sure that you not only have the right to heaven but also are made fit for heaven so that you might be by his side. Oh, how he must love you!

 

Reflections on Jesus’ Ultimate Desire for You from John 17:24

 

Can anything equal the breath-taking tenderness of Jesus’ final request – “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
– Adapted from William Hendriksen

While he was on his deathbed, the Scottish Reformer John Knox had John 17 read to him every day. In the closing moments of his life, he testified that these verses continued to be a great comfort and a source of strength for him.
James Montgomery Boice

In truth, Christ cannot lack you. Heaven would be no heaven to him, if you were not there.
You are his crown of beauty (Isaiah 62:4). You are the apple of his eye (Deuteronomy 32:10),
his treasured possession (Exodus 19:5), his portion (Deut. 32:9), and his bride (Rev. 21:9).
– Adapted from Robert Murray M’Cheyne

The Father has eternally enjoyed ‘the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature’ (Hebrews 1:3) in the Person of his Son. Seeing and savoring this glory is the goal of our salvation (John 17:24). To feast on this forever is the aim of our being created
and of our being redeemed.
John Piper

Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
John Donne

 

Longing for Glory

Jesus expresses his longing for us in what is called His high priestly prayer. He prays:

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Here’s how Peter Kreeft describes it in his book Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing:

All of us will know glory flat in the face when we die. We shall be hailed by the Angel of death with the same lightsome glory with which Mary was hailed by the angel of life, because Christ has made death into life’s golden chariot sent to fetch his Cinderella bride out of the cinders of this fireplace of the world through a far midnight ride to his very own castle and bedchamber, where glory will beget glory upon us forever.

What’s My Destiny, Momma?

All of us are on a quest to find and fulfill our destiny.  The soul searching question on the lips of the infamous Forrest Gump has plagued every thinking human being: “What’s my destiny, Momma?”

When Forrest rescues Lt. Dan from certain death on the battlefield, Dan furiously rages, “I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field with honor.”

Forrest’s mom philosophizes on her deathbed about the subject of one’s destiny: “Life is a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

I’m here today to tell you that Forrest’s mom might have plumbed the depths of the hard core realities of life but not the heights of its consummation.  Life for you may not be a box of sweet chocolates.  It oftentimes is a sack of bitter herbs.  However, the bottom line is this:  You can know what you’re gonna get!

Isaiah 40:1-5 has two voices:  one human, one divine.  They contrast the unpromising landscape (3b-e) with the coming glory (5ab) and call for total transformation in preparation.

1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

What’s your destiny?  Why are you here?  Why did God make you? The prophet Isaiah offers this answer: To see and experience God’s glory. (vv.3-5) 

To whom or what is Isaiah referring when he says “the glory of the Lord will be revealed?”   The visible revelation of God himself.  How can we be so sure that the glory of the Lord refers to none other than Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 40:3 claims there will be the voice of a prophet calling out in the wilderness and then the glory will be revealed. Who’s that voice?  All four gospel writers emphatically declare it is John the Baptizer.  If John is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Jesus is Yahweh (the LORD).  Yahweh – the covenant, personal name of the Lord.  The name God used to reveal himself to Moses in the burning bush. 

“God’s glory is the visible revelation of God in all His attributes. This is set forth clearly in various passages in the NT like John 1:14 —  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 1:3 —  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

2 Cor. 4:6 —   For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.)

Why we need to see His glory?  Apart from the Lord shining the light of His glory into our hearts, we, like the Israelites of old, worship and serve created things and we make for ourselves what the prophet Jeremiah called “broken cisterns” that cannot truly satisfy our hearts. To liberate from this bondage, God sends a deliverer. Another OT prophet calls him “the desire of all nations.”

The True Glory of A Church – J.C. Ryle

Mark 13:1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Let us learn from this solemn saying that the true glory of a Church does not consist in its buildings for public worship, but in the faith and godliness of its members. The eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ could find no pleasure in looking at the very temple that contained the holy of holies, and the golden candlestick, and the altar of burnt offering. Much less, may we suppose, can he find pleasure in the most splendid places of worship among professing Christians, if His Word and His Spirit are not honored in it.

We shall all do well to remember this. We are naturally inclined to judge things by the outward appearance, like children who value poppies more than corn. We are too apt to suppose that where there is a stately ecclesiastical building and a magnificent ceremonial–carved stone and painted glass–fine music and gorgeously-dressed ministers, there must be some real religion. And yet there may be no religion at all. It may be all form, and show, and appeal to the senses. There may be nothing to satisfy the conscience–nothing to cure the heart. It may prove on inquiry that Christ is not preached in that stately building, and the Word of God not expounded. The ministers may perhaps be utterly ignorant of the Gospel, and the worshipers may be dead in trespasses and sins. We need not doubt that God sees no beauty in such a building as this. We need not doubt the Parthenon had no glory in God’s sight compared to the dens and caves where the early Christians worshiped, or that the lowest room where Christ is preached at this day, is more honorable in his eyes than St. Peter’s Cathedral at Rome.

Let us however not run into the absurd extreme of supposing that it matters not what kind of building we set apart for God’s service. There is nothing wrong in making a church handsome. There is no true religion in having a dirty, mean, shabby, and disorderly place of worship. “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40.) But let it be a settled principle in our religion, however beautiful we make our churches, to regard pure doctrine and holy practice as their principal ornaments. Without these two things, the noblest ecclesiastical edifice is radically defective. It has no glory if God is not there. With these two things, the humblest brick cottage where the Gospel is preached, is lovely and beautiful. It is consecrated by Christ’s own presence and the Holy Spirit’s own blessing.