Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)
This is my favorite time of year.
I love the ushering in of sweater season; of boots and scarves and pumpkins to carve. I love the changing of the leaves, the crisp air, and the fact that the earth is tilted at juuuust the right angle for me to watch the rising sun each morning from my usual table at the coffee shop.
This morning’s sunrise was particularly beautiful. Light bounced off the countertops and wooden floors, gracing the area around me with reminders of new morning mercies that are even more faithful than the rising of the sun.
The window panes framed the dawning sun perfectly, as if to capture each moment of its rising glory and committing it to memory.
As I watched the sun go from one pane to the other, I was captivated by its splendor. Even as I returned to my writing, I could hardly focus because the intensity of the sun left impressions of its bright glory on the pages in front of me.
My gaze returned, surprised and somewhat saddened at how fast the sun had moved in such a short amount of time. I wished it could stay framed in the window forever, but by this point it was already playing with the edges of the frame, bidding its final farewell but promising to return.
I can’t help but think about how the Gospel is a lot like the rising sun; how Christ’s descent into mortality was our first glimpse at divinity; the dawning of heaven.
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 God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NIV)
It is in the face of Jesus Christ that we are able to behold the glory of God; to dwell in the light of the knowledge of God’s glory.
Let that sink in for just a moment.
Just as the different window panes captured each moment of the sun’s ascent, we have the very words of God; the first hand accounts of the Bible that capture each glorious moment of Christ’s life, work, and mission here on earth; all of which display the beauty and glory and goodness of our Heavenly Father.
Do we see or understand this like we should?
Probably not, if we’re to be truly honest with ourselves.
With the rising popularity of the ‘Instagram Bible’ and a growing propensity toward second hand knowledge of God rather than deep, personal Biblical understanding, our desire to behold Christ’s glory has diminished severely.
We forget our great privilege as believers to behold that which ‘angels long to look into’ (1 Peter 1:12, NIV); something that Isaiah and the minor prophets only got a glimpse of through the Old Testament writings, and something that Abraham went to his grave clinging to but never actually being able to lay eyes upon.
We forget our great privilege as believers to behold Jesus Christ incarnate; the Son of the Living God personified.
We forget that we can actually look into the face of Jesus Christ through the Holy Word and see the glory of God and the grace of our Savior.
With veiled faces, we read the Bible, failing to understand the grandeur of what is being said; of the stories being told and the great eternal implications that they possess.
How could something so marvelous be so easily dismissed?
Prior to the display of absolute grace and mercy in the coming of Christ, the minds of believers were dull; shielded from the glory of God, because only in Christ is the veil removed from our eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14-15, NIV). To be quite honest, we wouldn’t want to behold the glory of God without the lens of Christ’s mercy and grace. Without grace, God’s glory would be utterly terrifying.
But because we know and reside in the grace of Christ’s sacrifice through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we have the great privilege to behold the glory of God. ‘Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away and we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NIV).
There is a beautiful, breathtaking mystery in the person and lordship of Jesus Christ. ‘In him there are two distinct natures, the one, eternal, infinite, immense, almighty, the form and essence of God; the other having a beginning in time, finite, limited, confined to a certain place, which is our nature.’ (The Glory of Christ, 1994)
‘This is the glory of our religion, the glory of the church, the only rock on which it was built, the only source of present grace and future glory.’ (The Glory of Christ, 1994)
Think about it…the angels have no need for grace; the prophets only foretold of such grace; and Abraham could only imagine this kind of grace. We have the privilege of knowing it!
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9, NIV)
Oh the staggering magnificence and glory of knowing such grace of the One who’s face shines bright with the radiance of God’s glory; the dawning of heaven, and knowing that with the emergence of divinity comes a day when we will all be able to fully bask in the glory of God for ourselves.
We see little murmurs of this glory in creation; in the work of His hands, but we have been granted even more than that. We have been granted the privilege of beholding God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ! And it is this glory that stimulates in our hearts a yearning to see His beauty and majesty firsthand; a deep longing for eternity.
It is the glory of Christ that draws our attention; that captivates our gaze and helps us to be eternally focused on Him rather than presently preoccupied by the things of this world, good and bad.
So as I continue returning to the coffee shop every morning, I anticipate many more gorgeous sunrises, just as I anticipate even more beautiful mercies, grace, and loving kindness from my Lord.
In the same way, we keep coming back; we continue returning to the Word of God because we know what an invaluable privilege it is to behold such priceless glory right here, right now.
We keep looking into the face of Jesus through His Word to learn more and more of God’s glory, realizing that one day we will be able to behold this glory for all of eternity when this dawning of heaven ushers in the day of ‘consuming fire’ that is our God. (Deuteronomy 4:24, NIV)