The Face of Jesus.

In Isaiah 50 we learn the Creator-greatness and the lowliness of the Lord Jesus. The One who said of Himself, "I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering," also said, "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned" (or learner).

The heart could not do without the two - the Deity and manhood of the blessed Lord. He who is our Redeemer is very man; but also "over all, God blessed for ever." (Rom. 9:5.) The heart delights in this. He who lay in Bethlehem's stable, cradled in a manger, was indeed very God; He who wept at the grave of Lazarus could say, "Lazarus, come forth," and the dead came forth; He who sat, the weary stranger, at Sychar's well, asking a drink of water of the Samaritan woman, was at that very moment the mighty Creator and the Upholder of the universe; He who stood as the unresisting One at man's judgment-bar was in very deed the King of kings, and into whose hand all power and judgment were committed; He who hung dead upon the cross of Calvary had said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. … I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:17-18); and He who adorns the throne of heaven unites in His own glorious person Deity and Humanity.

Who could say but a Divine Being, "I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering"? And who but the same Being, become man, - a man in perfect lowliness, and dependence, and obedience - could say, "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed"? These are the words of the only perfect man that ever trod this earth, the Lord Jesus. Having taken the place of man, in dependence and obedience, it involved the humiliation, the rejection, the shame, the spitting, the smiting; yea, above all, the cross, as the display of man's hatred, and God's judgment of sin. But what did He say? "I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." His holy face was set to do the will of God, though the accomplishment of that will involved for Him the deep, unutterable woes of the cross. His face was set like a flint, and He knew that He would not be ashamed. Obedience and God's vindication go together. The two were united in Jesus. He obeyed and swerved not, and left His cause and vindication with Him who judges righteously.

What a lesson for the saints! He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:21.) Not that we can go where His unswerving obedience carried Him - to the cross as a sin-bearer, as we find Him in Isaiah 53; but we can, according to our measure, set our face like a flint, to follow His holy steps in the paths of dependence and obedience, leaving our vindication with Him who judges righteously. But this needs the single eye and the undivided heart. No sanctified flesh or nature can tread this path; nothing but the power of the Spirit, and the energy of faith, will enable us to begin and continue in a path where mere nature meets with death at every step, and where the leaves of mere sentimentality are withered in a moment. Peter attempted it in the energy of nature, but utterly failed. Thousands have followed his steps, and have most thoroughly broken down; and, alas! mere head knowledge of the truth, however beautiful, will only make the failure the more apparent and terrible. Are we not eye-witnesses of this? An unsanctified mind, and a divided heart, dealing with God's truths, and attempting to tread the path it prescribes, must end in catastrophe.

As we have said, His path of holy devotedness led to the cross. He set His face stedfastly to go to Jerusalem, knowing well that Gethsemane, the judgment-hall, the cross, and the grave, were all before Him. His holy "visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men," and on the cross behold that holy face bowed in death. Here is devotedness and obedience that must ever stand alone. There is none like it. As with the ark, and the people on crossing Jordan, there must ever be a space left between what was absolutely perfect and what is in the most devoted of His devoted followers, imperfect. We are indeed to follow His steps; but we know the more we get into the presence of His life, the more are we made to feel the inconsistencies and contradictions of our own. And yet He has left us an example that we should follow His steps!

Obedience to God, as we have seen, needs no human vindication. "He is near that justifieth me," the lowly Jesus could say. God vindicates those who act for Him. He vindicated His Son by taking Him out of death, and putting Him at His right hand in glory, and the face once marred in death on the cross made radiant with the glory of God. The glory of God shines in His blessed face. What a sight! Of old the people gathered from far to "behold that sight" of Calvary, and the marred face of the dying sufferer; but another sight meets the eye of faith now as it penetrates the heavens. It is the same face, but illumined with the glory of God. That glory shining in the face of the ascended Jesus is to the one who believes a divine proof that his sins are no more, and that his acceptance, as his justification, is clear, settled, and eternal. For how could the glory of God shine in His face if the sins that He made His own on the cross were not put away according to God? They were put away, and God was glorified. He therefore can have His Son at His own right hand as man, and cause His glory to shine in His blessed face. What settled conviction this gives, that our sins are no more, that they are gone for ever, and we accepted in the One who is accepted of God in His own glory!

But more, "We all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." What a place is ours! With unveiled face looking on the glory that shines in the face of Jesus. No cloud between. Sins all gone, conscience purged, the heart at rest, the soul enwrapped as it gazes by faith upon that peerless One, and into His once marred face, now all glorious with the glory of God. Thus engaged with Him, a moral assimilation takes place. "We are changed into His image from glory to glory," and His life is seen in our ways.

But this by faith and only as faith is in exercise. Soon faith will cease, the wilderness be over, the blots and blemishes wiped out for ever, and in His own likeness we shall stand in His presence, behold His face, His name shall be in our forehead, and with Him we shall reign for ever and ever. Lord, haste that blessed day! E. A.