By S.D. Gordon
The Face of Jesus
Jesus was God letting man see the beauty of His face and listen to the music of His voice, and feel the irresistibly gentle drawing power of His presence. Jesus was very winsome. He drew men. He said that if He were lifted up He would draw men. They who heard that could believe it, for He drew them before He was lifted up. He drew the crowds. Yet many a leader that has drawn the crowds has led them astray. He drew men--men of strongest mentality, scholarly, cultured, thoughtful men, and every other sort. Yet men have often been befooled in their leaders. He drew women. Here is a great test. Men may be deceived in a man. But woman, true strong woman, pure womanly woman, because of her keen discernment into spirit and motive, cannot be deceived, when true to her inner conviction.
He drew children. This was the highest test. The child, fresh from the hand of God, before it is appreciably hurt by parents or surroundings, is drawn to the pure and good. They are repelled by selfishness and badness. They draw out the best. They are drawn only by the true and beautiful and good. That is, in the early years, before the warping of a selfish, sinful atmosphere has hurt them. This is an infallible test. This told most His winsomeness.
Bad people were drawn to Him. That is, bad in their lives. Rarely indeed is a human so wholly bad as to be untouched by true goodness, by sincere love. Here is the touchstone of service. He touched that spot in the lowest, and by His presence increased the hunger of their hearts for purity and for sympathy up toward purity.
His enemies--a very small group, but in a position of great power, holding the national reins--His enemies were drawn to Him, by a drawing they fought, but could not resist. They admired Him while hating Him. His presence disturbed because it accused the opposite in them. They recognized the purity, the love, the rugged honesty, the keen insight, the poised wisdom, and they hated Him the more intensely, so committed were they in the practice of their lives to the opposite of these. Jesus was very winsome. It was to be expected of Him, for He was a man unstained and unhurt by sin. Man, God's sort of man, is winsome, for he is in the image of God. It was to be expected of Him, for He was God. And God is winsome. Did men but know God they would throw themselves at His feet in the utter abandon of strong love.
Jesus' personality must have been very attractive, because of the man living within. He found expression in it. The spirit of a man finds expression in his presence. He goes out to others through his presence. From what we know of Jesus His presence must have had something distinctly impressive about it. He would have a gently majestic bearing. He walked upright like the king He was. He had the true dignity that is not conscious of its dignity.
Jesus must have had a remarkable face. One's presence centers peculiarly in the face. It comes to bear the imprint of the man inside. A man cannot keep out of his face the dominant spirit of his life. The sin of the life, the purity of the heart, is always stamped on the face. The finer the nature the plainer is the facial index. That is the reason women's faces reveal the inner spirit more than men's. Quite apart from His features, the inner spirit of Jesus must have made His face beautiful with a manly fascinating beauty. Yet in all likelihood those features were finely chiselled and the skin clear, and with the transfiguring power of the spirit within, that face must have been a great face in its beauty.
Jesus' face must have borne the impress of His experiences. The early home experience would bring out patience and simplicity and sympathy. Those forty days in the wilderness would intensify the purity and strength, and bring evidence of struggle and of victory. The Jordan waters, with the voice of approval, would deepen the mark of peace. Constant contact with the sick and suffering would bring out yet more the tenderness and gentleness. Constant teaching of undisciplined folk would intensify the patience. Constant contact with sin would intensify the unflinching sternness of purity. The Transfiguration would deepen the spirituality, with possibly an added glory-touch. Gethsemane wrote in the deep lines of intense suffering, with the intangible spirituality of victory and great peace. And, at the last, Calvary with its scars marked in a beauty of suffering and of spirituality refined beyond description. A marvellous face that human face of Jesus.
Indeed, the glory of God was in the face of Jesus as He walked quietly among men. Looking into that face men saw God. That simple, gentle, patient, pure face, with its deep peace and victory and yet its yearning--that was God looking out into men's faces.
The Music of God in the Voice of Jesus.
The face of that face was the eye. The eye is the soul of the face. Through it the man looks out and shows himself. Through it we look in and see him. Where the fires of self-ambition burn the flame is always in the eye. Only where those fires are out or never lit does the real beauty-light of God come into the eye. Great leaders have ever been noted for their eyes, before whose glance strong men have cowed and quailed, or eagerly coveted the privilege of service.
Those must have been matchless eyes of Jesus, keen, kindly, flashing out blinding lightning, sending out softest subdued light. The Nazareth mob couldn't stand the look of those eyes, nor the bolder Jerusalem mob reaching down for the stones, nor the deputation sent to arrest, nor even the reckless Roman soldiers at the garden gate. The disciples who were closest sometimes followed him afraid and amazed because of the look of those eyes. And yet the little children put their arms around His neck, and looked up fearlessly and lovingly. And the crowd listened by the hour with their eyes fastened upon His.
The voice of Jesus must have been music itself. It speaks once of His singing a hymn. How we would all have loved to hear Him sing! But that voice was music at all times, whether in song or speech. Low, modulated, rhythmic, gentle, rich, resonant--wondrous music. Those who have heard Spurgeon and Gladstone almost always speak of the rare musical quality in their voices. So, and more would it be with this Jesus. It has been said that the personality reveals itself in the speech. It reveals itself yet more, and more subtly, in the sound of the voice. The power or weakness of a man is felt in the sound of his voice. The blind have unusual skill in reading character in the voice. Were we wiser we could read men's character much more quickly in the voice. Children and animals do. The voice that stilled the waves and spoke forgiveness of sins, that drew the babes, and talked out to thousands at once, must have been full of sweetest music and thrilling with richest power.
Jesus made much of the personal touch, another means whereby a man's power goes out to his fellow. He believed in close personal touch. He drew men into close contact with Himself. He promised that when gone Himself, Somebody else was to come, and live as He had done right with us in close touch. He touched those whom He helped, regardless of conditions. There was power in His touch. Some of Himself went out through that touch of His. The fever, the weakness, the disease fled before His touch.
Is it to be wondered at that everywhere, in the temple yards, on Judean hills or Galilean, by the blue waters of Galilee or the brown waters of the Jordan, men crowded to Jesus? They couldn't help it. He was irresistible in His presence, His face, His eye, and voice and touch. It could not be otherwise. He was God on a wooing errand after man. Moses' request of Jehovah, "Show me ... Thy glory," was being granted now to the whole nation. In Jesus they were gazing on the glory of God. A veiled glory? Yes, much veiled, doubtless, yet not as much as when Moses looked and listened.
Jesus draws men. All classes, all nations, all peoples are drawn to Him. It is remarkable how all classes in Christendom quote Jesus, and claim Him as the leader of their own particular views. They will selfishly claim Him who will not follow Him.
Jesus draws us. Let us each yield to His drawing. That is the sincerest homage and honor we can give Him. That will draw out in us to fullest measure the original God-likeness obscured by sin.
Let us lift this drawing Jesus up by our lives of loyalty to Him, by our modest, earnest testimony for Him, by our unselfish love for the men He loved so. Up let us lift Him before men's eyes; up on the cross, transfigured by His love; up on the Olives' Mount, Victor over all the forces of sin and death; up at the Father's right hand in glory, waiting the fullness of time for the completion of His plan for man.
Thou great winsome God, we have seen Thy beauty in this Jesus. We have heard Thy music in His voice. We feel the strong pull upon our hearts and wills of Thy presence in Him. We cannot resist Thee if we would. We would not if we could. We are coming a-running to keep tryst with Thee under the tree of life thou art planting down in our midst. We will throw ourselves at Thy feet in the utter abandon of our strongest love, Thy volunteer slaves.