“We want to see Jesus.” John 12:21
Most probably, the “certain Greeks” here mentioned, who expressed the desire to see the Lord, were proselytes to the Jewish faith, for they had come to Jerusalem “to worship.” Perhaps they had heard, in their own land, of the wonderful Man who claimed to be “the Messiah”; and it may be that some feeling, deeper than that of mere curiosity, stirred their hearts to seek His presence. However that may be, we make their request our own this morning, and very earnestly would we plead that a sight of the Lord Jesus, in His many endearing relations to us, may be vouchsafed to our waiting souls. “Let me see the King’s face,” is a prayer that can never be overlooked or disregarded at the court of the Majesty on High.
What is it to “see” You, blessed Master? We cannot look upon You with our natural eyes, as these long-ago seekers expected to do; but if You will open the eyes of our soul, and give us the vision of faith, we shall spiritually discern You, and behold something of the heavenly beauty and grace of “Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” And even if You will but give to us a partial and half-concealed view of Yourself, as You did to Your spouse, the Church, when she said, “He looks forth at the windows, showing Himself through the lattice,” yet this will be inexpressibly precious; for, to see You, is to love You; and to love You, is to know that You have first loved us; and to know this, is Life Eternal!
Lord, I would see You as You were when incarnate on this sin-stricken earth—meek, lowly, suffering, “acquainted with grief,” veiling Your own glory by being made “in fashion as a man,” that You might raise poor fallen men to the high estate of “heirs together” with You in Your Kingdom. I would see You as You did walk, with weary footstep, along that sad and gloomy valley of humiliation which ended in the cruel cross, Your precious death, Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and, as I gaze on all these wondrous mysteries and revelations of Your love, my faith overcomes all fear, and I cry out—My Lord, and my God—all this for me!”
Lord, I would see You as You are now, in glory at the Father’s right hand, waiting until “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.” Until that blessed day shall dawn, You are watching over and interceding for Your own, comforting, strengthening, delivering them—caring for every item of their daily experience, keeping them abiding in Yourself, and preparing them for the inheritance which Your great love has secured to them through faith in Your Name.
But, Lord, it is here and now that I desire most of all to see You; Your visits are so precious, Your fellowship most exceeding sweet. How the shadows flee away at Your approach, and the darkest night is lightened if You do but appear to me! One glimpse of Your face, one love-whisper from Your lips, ravishes my heart with a foretaste of Heaven’s blessedness.
Lord, I would see You in all my joys, not only receiving them as gifts from Your bountiful hand, but feeling that You Yourself share them with me, thus sanctifying and exalting them; and I would see You in every sorrow, when only Your voice can comfort, and Your sympathy reach to the depths of my suffering. I would see You when perplexed and anxious concerning either heavenly or earthly things, for You are “the wisdom of God,” and I cannot go wrong, or do amiss, so long as I follow closely after You, and keep Your commandments. I would see You, You blessed One, in Your wondrous relation to me as my Redeemer, and my Husband! I would often look upon You as the Purchaser of my soul by Your own precious blood, and realize that the absolute surrender of myself, and my will, is but the natural consequence of such an unparalleled sacrifice as Yours!
As these are “personal” notes, I may be pardoned for introducing a personal experience in illustration of my subject. A glimpse of the Lord Jesus was given me, just lately, under stress of temptation, in this way. It was a fair and lovely Sabbath morning when I awaked from sleep much depressed in spirit, and with a sense of coming evil heavy upon me. Presently, I felt the ominous warnings of an ague-fit, and feared I might again have to wrestle with the strong agitation which it produces. I had looked forward to a day of enjoyment and success with my small service for the Master; but my hopes were at once crushed, as I knew well the weakness and weariness, the loss of all physical and mental energy, which these painful attacks leave behind them.
The enemy of souls immediately availed himself of the opportunity to molest and trouble me. Into my heart he threw wicked doubts of God’s love and care, suggesting cruel and ungrateful thoughts of Him who is all tenderness and pity to His children. “God doesn’t care,” he hissed, “else He would not have permitted this pain and discomfort to come upon you at the very moment when you were anticipating a joyful day of rest. Is it likely that He thinks about you, and remembers your need, when He has the whole universe to support and control? You are very fond of saying, ‘God never makes a mistake;’ but are you quite sure there is a God at all? Do not all things happen by chance; or, at least, according to the ordinary course of nature?”
Many more cruel and fiery darts he hurled at me; but, in a few moments, the blessed Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus to me as the Vanquisher of Satan, and the Deliverer of His people, and I was enabled to “resist the devil,” and set him and his vile insinuations at defiance. I saw Jesus, by faith, as my faithful, unchangeable Savior, “a very present help in trouble;” I put my case into His hands, and He rebuked my enemy, liberated my soul, and caused me to triumph in Him alone.
Oh, to be thus helped and comforted always! It is possible to those who look, and wait, and watch, for He is infinitely willing to reveal Himself to the soul which, “like a deer for water-brooks,” pants after His presence, and thirsts to be refreshed by a draught of His love and grace. Surely, if we have ever known anything of the joy of seeing Jesus, we shall not rest content when He is absent, or close our eyes in willful indifference when He is passing by.
And yet, alas! This is just what we often do, causing Him to withdraw Himself, or make His visits rare, and thus both grieving Him and wickedly sinning against our own souls. For, how desolate we are without Him! There is no real joy, no happiness, no satisfaction to be found except in Him. My life is as a vine stripped of its fruit, a fire extinguished and dead, a sky without a star, and a landscape without the sun—if Jesus be not with me.
And if this be really so, what cause have I for deep thanksgiving and gratitude, for if I missed You not, dear Lord, when You are gone away, I might well doubt if ever Your presence had been manifested to me. A soul, once feasted on the dainties of Your love, can never again enjoy the coarse and unclean fare provided by the world. One thing I know, blessed Master, I would now sooner starve than feed upon earthly delights; I would rather always mourn after You, than be content without You; I would choose to pass my life in seeking and sighing for You, rather than be one of those poor blind mortals who can say, “There is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him.”
May our eyes be constantly looking up for the sweet vision, and our prayer be continually, “Lord, that I may receive my sight!” For, many a time, I doubt not, we might have seen Him but for eyes blurred with tears of self-pity, or aching with the windblown dust of the world’s pleasures or pains, or dim with the long-cherished doubt and sadness which becloud our upward glances. Oh, for the day when we shall “see His face” without a veil between, and gaze unhindered upon the glorious loveliness of Him who loved us even unto death!
I never look with satisfaction or emotion on any pictured semblance of the Savior. They all seem so far, far below the ideal which is in my heart, that they utterly fail to set forth either the grief or the hidden glory which must have dwelt in His blessed countenance. But this does not matter, if I see Him by faith. If I “endure as seeing Him who is invisible,” I can then be content to wait until He meets me in the Homeland, and I see Him as He is!