And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
They shall see his face. We often think, and think truly, that it must have been a great joy to see our Lord as he was here on earth. What would we not give could we now see him as his apostles did? Everything associated with him has gained sacredness and sanctity by that association. The land where he lived -
"Those holy fields,
Over whose acres walked those blessed feet
Which, many hundred years ago, were nailed,
For our redemption, to the cruel cross," = - that Land we call the Holy land. the particular places Most closely connected with His Life On earth we call the Holy places. the Men whom He chose to Minister to and for him we call Holy ones, or saints. the Day On which He rose from the Dead we observ
I. THAT WE SHALL SEE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF. No doubt that in that blessed future world:
1. There is very much besides that is blessed. The scene, how glorious! See St. John's descriptions. The inhabitants, how illustrious, how glorious, how holy, how blessed! And some of them beloved ones of our own; how blessed will be the sight of them! But, after all:
2. The chief joy will be our seeing him For think what seeing Jesus, even in our present poor and imperfect way, has done for men. At the beginning of their life as his disciples, when filled with fear because they had seen somewhat of the iniquity of their sin, the seeing of Jesus allayed that fear and gave them peace. During the progress of that life, when sin has reasserted its cruel power, and they have been heart crushed in consequence; when the cares of this world have well nigh overwhelmed them; when sorrow has saddened their very souls; when temptation has drawn near in its most deadly, because in its most enticing, form; - at all such times the seeing of Jesus, by the quickened eye of faith, has given hope and help, strength and deliverance, according as the need has been. And in the hour of death the seeing him has soothed the sufferings of that last time, and snatched victory from the last enemy, death, and given it to the dying saint whose succour and salvation the sight of Jesus has then secured. If, then, our poor vision here has been so full of blessing, what shall not our perfect vision yonder be?
II. AND IT WILL BE A SEEING HIM. Not a mere hearing concerning him.
1. Hearing is a great blessing. What do we not owe to the gospel story that we have heard read or preached, so many times? "Faith" - the faith that saves - "cometh by hearing."
2. But seeing is far better. Word pictures describing some fair landscape are often interesting, and sometimes so well done that they help us much to realize what the scene described must be. But how the best of such descriptions fails before the seeing Of the landscape itself! And even the gospel story of Jesus will be as nothing to the seeing him - seeing his face.
III. AND HIS GLORIFICATION WILL BE NO BAR TO OUR JOY. For we have not to say of him now that he is a spirit. If he were that, if his glorification had transformed him into an entirely spiritual being, then our Lord would be lost to us, for we could form no idea, no clear conception, of him. But it is not so. He wears his humanity; he has glorified that, and still he is the Son of man. The pierced hands and feet, the brow that was crowned with thorns, the side that was riven by the spear, he has taken with him into heaven. Therefore we shall see his face - the very face that sweat great drops of blood, and that was marred more than any man's. Literally our text is true.
IV. AND WE SHALL KNOW HIM. Not merely recognize him, but know him as here we have never done. His people will read his heart, will understand him as now they cannot. Much there is here which hinders our understanding, our true knowledge of him. Sin, sorrow, worldly pursuits, earthly mindedness of all kinds, serve to hide him from our hearts, and so hinder our knowledge of him. But there these things shall not be.
V. AND IT WILL BE "A LASTING SIGHT." It will not be a mere glimpse - a fitful, fleeting vision, which is all that we now enjoy. But our "joy shall remain."
VI. AND IT IMPLIES MUCH THAT IS VERY BLESSED. For example:
1. That we are really his. Were we not, the sight of that face would be unendurable. The wicked cannot bear it. And yet they must behold it. Ah! would that all such would think of this, and. now be reconciled to God! But the fact that we rejoice to see his face is "an evident token of salvation."
2. That we shall not see our sins. Whether or no we shall remember our sins in heaven, and if so, whether that memory will sadden heaven for us, is a question that has often been asked. That we can actually and entirely forget them is impossible; but that the "remembrance of them" will be "grievous to us, and the burden of them intolerable," as here we confess they are, we cannot think. For, on a bright starry night, what is it that we notice, that arrests our attention, as we delightedly gaze and gaze upon the magnificent scene? Is it the black stretches of cloud through which the stars shine down upon us? Certainly not, but the stars themselves. And so "his face," as compared to our sins, will be as those stars to the clouds. In that beatific vision the darker memories will be swallowed up and, as it were, unseen.
3. That we shall be like him. For seeing assimilates. "We shall be like him," says St. John; "for we shall see him as he is."
CONCLUSION. Are we of the number who shall enjoy this beatific vision? How can we tell? St. John supplies the answer. "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself" - that is the test. Are we thus striving after Christ-like purity? - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.