Beholding Him

We may enjoy the perpetual recognition of the presence of Christ. “The world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me (John 14:19). Nothing makes men so humble and yet so strong as the vision of Christ.

It induces humility. When Isaiah beheld His glory more resplendent than the sheen of the sapphire throne, he cried that he was undone; when Peter caught the first flash of His miraculous power gleaming across the waves of Galilee, just when the fish were struggling in the full net, he besought Him to depart, because he felt himself a sinful man; and when John saw Him on the Isle of Patmos, he fell at His feet as dead — though, surely, if any of the apostles could have faced Him unabashed, it had been he.

This is especially noticeable in the Book of Job. Few books are so misunderstood. It is supposed to contain the description of the victory of Job’s patience; in reality it delineates its testing and failure. It shows how he who was perfect, according to the measure of his light, broke down in the fiery ordeal to which he was exposed, and finally was forced to cry, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Would you be humble? Then ask the Spirit to reveal Jesus in all His matchless beauty and holiness, eliciting the confession that you are the least of saints and the chief of sinners. This is no forced estimate, when we take into account the opportunities we have missed, the gifts we have misused, the time we have wasted, the light we have resisted, and the love we have not requited.

It produces strength. See that man of God prone on the floor of his chamber, shedding bitter tears of godly sorrow, not forgiving himself, albeit that he knows himself forgiven; bowing his head as a bulrush, crying that he is helpless, broken, and at the end of himself. Will he be able to stand as a rock against the beat of temptation, and the assault of the foe? Yes, for the same presence which is to him a source of humility in private, will inspire to great deeds of faith and heroism when he is called to stand in the breach.

It is this vision of the present Lord that, in every age of the Church, has made sufferers strong. “The Lord is on my right hand, I shall not be moved,” said one. “The Lord stood by me, and strengthened me,” said another. In many a dark day of suffering and persecution; in the catacombs; in the dens and caves where the Waldenses hid; on the hillsides where the Covenanters met to pray; in the beleaguered cities of the Netherlands; in prison and at the stake — God’s saints have looked to Him, and been lightened, and their faces have not been ashamed. “Behold,” said the first Christian martyr, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”

O for more of the open vision of Jesus, ministered to us by the gracious Spirit! Would that His words, “Ye behold Me,” were more often verified in our experience! He is always with us; and if only our eyes were not holden, we should behold Him with the quick perception of the heart. Indeed, the race can only be rightly run by those who have learned the blessed secret of looking off unto Him. “We see Jesus.”

It is a most salutary habit to say often, when one is alone, “Thou art near, O Lord”; “Behold, the Lord is in this place.” We may not at first realize the truth of what we are saying. His presence may be veiled, as the forms of mountains swathed in morning cloud. But as we persist in our quest, putting away from us all that would grieve Him, and cultivating the attitude of pure devotion, we shall become aware of a divine presence which shall be more to us than a voice speaking from out the Infinite.