Vision of Christ

He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.
~ Job 33:26

There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
~ Psalm 4:6

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
~ Isaiah 33:17, Isaiah 35:2, Isaiah 40:5

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
~ Matthew 5:8, John 12:26

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
~ Hebrews 12:14

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
~ Revelation 3:12

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
~ Revelation 14:1

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
~ Hebrews 10:7, Psalm 40:7

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
~ Luke 24:44-45

The Beatific Vision, by Charles H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon preached this sermon on August 9, 1868.

And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
—Revelation 22:4

Beloved, have you not sometimes felt as I have that you could have wished to have seen the Well-beloved’s face even in its grief and agony? It was not long before the beauty of Jesus began to be marred by His inward griefs and His daily hardships. He appears to have looked like a man of fifty when He was scarcely thirty. The Jews said, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (Joh 8:57). “His visage was so marred,” we are told, “more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isa 52:14); for He took upon Himself our sickness and bare our sorrows, and all this substitutionary grief ploughed deep furrows upon that blessed brow, made the cheeks to sink, and the eyes to become red with much weeping. Yet fain would I have gazed into the face of the Man of Sorrows; fain would I have seen those eyes that were “as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set” (Song 5:12), those founts of pity, wells of love, and springs of grief. Fain would I have adoringly admired those “cheeks (that were) as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh” (Song 5:13). For all the suffering that He suffered could not take away from that marred visage its majesty of grace and holiness, nor withdraw from it one line of that mental, moral, and spiritual beauty that were peculiar to the perfect man. Oh, how terribly lovely that beloved face must have looked when it was covered with the crimson of the bloody sweat, when the radiant hues of His rosy sufferings suffused the lily of His perfection! What a vision must that have been of the Man of Sorrows when He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Mat 26:38)! What must it have been to have looked into His face when His brow was girt about with the crown of thorns, when the ruby drops followed each other down those bruised cheeks that had been spit upon by the shameful mouths of the scorners? That must have been a spectacle of woe indeed! But, perhaps, yet more ghastly still was the face of the Redeemer when He said, “I thirst” (Joh 19:28), when, in bitterest anguish, He shrieked, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46). Then, indeed, the sun of the universe suffered a horrible eclipse; then the light of heaven for a while passed under a black tempestuous cloud. That face in such a condition we have not seen nor shall see; yet, beloved, we shall see His face…

It is the chief blessing of heaven, the cream of heaven, the heaven of heaven, that the saints shall there see Jesus. There will be other things to see…Who shall speak lightly of streets of glassy gold and gates of pearl? We would not forget that we shall see angels, seraphim, and cherubim; nor would we fail to remember that we shall see apostles, martyrs, and confessors, together with those whom we have walked with and communed with in our Lord while here below. We shall assuredly behold those of our departed kindred who sleep in Jesus, dear to us here and dear to us still, “not lost, but gone before.” But still, for all this, the main thought that we now have of heaven, and certainly the main fullness of it when we shall come there, is just this: we shall see Jesus!

I desire to know what God pleases to teach me; but beyond that, even ignorance shall be my bliss. Some have talked of flitting from star to star, seeing the wonders of God throughout the universe—who He rules in this province of His wide domain, (and) how He governs in that other region of His vast dominion. It may be so, but it would be no heaven to me.

So far as I can at present judge, I would rather stop at home, and sit at the feet of Christ forever than roam over the wide creation…If Jesus were not infinite, we should not speak so; but since He is in His person divine, and as to His manhood, so nearly allied to us that the closest possible sympathy exists between us, there will always be fresh subjects for thought, fresh sources for enjoyment, for those who are taken up with Him. Certainly, brethren and sisters, to no believer would heaven be desirable if Jesus were not there, or, if being there, they could not enjoy the nearest and dearest fellowship with Him. A sight of Him first turned our sorrow into joy; renewed communion with Him lifts us above our present cares and strengthens us to bear our heavy burdens: What must heavenly communion be? When we have Christ with us, we are content on a crust and satisfied with a cup of water; but if His face be hidden, the whole world cannot afford a solace—we are widowed of our Beloved, our sun has set, our moon is eclipsed, our candle is blown out. Christ is all in all to us here, and therefore we pant and long for a heaven in which He shall be all in all to us forever. Such will the heaven of God be. The Paradise of God is not the Elysium of imagination, the Utopia of intellect, or the Eden of poetry; but it is the heaven of intense spiritual fellowship with the Lord Jesus—a place where it is promised to faithful souls that “they shall see his face” (Rev 22:4).

In the beatific vision, it is Christ Whom they see. And further, it is His face that they behold. They shall not see the skirts of His robe as Moses saw the back parts of Jehovah; they shall not be satisfied to touch the hem of His garment or to sit far down at His feet where they can only see His sandals, but “they shall see his face.” By (that,) I understand two things: first, they shall literally and physically, with their risen bodies, actually look into the face of Jesus; secondly, their mental faculties spiritually shall be enlarged, so that they shall be enabled to look into the very heart, soul, and character of Christ, so as to understand Him, His work, His love, His all in all, as they never understood Him before. They shall literally, I say, see His face, for Christ is no phantom. And in heaven—though divine and therefore spiritual—He is still a man, and therefore material like us. The very flesh…that suffered upon Calvary is in heaven; the hand that was pierced with the nail now at this moment grasps the sceptre of all worlds; the very head that was bowed down with anguish is now crowned with a royal (jewelled crown); and the face that was so marred is the very face that beams resplendent amidst the thrones of heaven. Into that selfsame countenance, we shall be permitted to gaze. Oh, what a sight! Roll by, ye years; hasten on, ye (lingering) months and days, to let us but for once behold Him, our Beloved, our hearts’ care, Who “redeemed us to God by (his) blood” (Rev 5:9), Whose we are, and Whom we love with such a passionate desire that to be in His embrace we would be satisfied to suffer ten thousand deaths! (The saints) shall actually see Jesus.

Yet the spiritual sight will be sweeter still. I think the text implies that in the next world our powers of mind will be very different from what they are now. We are, the best of us, in our infancy yet, and know but in part. But we shall be men then, we shall “put away childish things” (1Co 13:11). We shall see and know even as we are known; and amongst the great things that we shall know will be this greatest of all, that we shall know Christ: we shall know the heights, depths, lengths, and breadths of the love of Christ that passeth knowledge. Oh, how delightful it will be then to understand His everlasting love; how without beginning or ever the earth was, His thoughts darted forward towards His dear ones whom He had chosen in the sovereignty of His choice that they should be His forever! What a subject for delightful meditation will the covenant be, and Christ’s suretyship engagements in that covenant when He undertook to take the debts of all His people upon Himself, to pay them all, and to stand and suffer in their room! What thoughts shall we have then of our union with Christ—our federal, vital, conjugal oneness! We only talk about these things now; we do not really understand them. We merely plough the surface and gather a topsoil harvest, but a richer subsoil lies beneath. Brethren, in heaven we shall dive into the lowest depths of fellowship with Jesus. We “shall see his face,” that is, we shall see clearly and plainly all that has to do with our Lord; and this shall be the topmost bliss of heaven.

In the blessed vision, the saints see Jesus, and they see Him clearly. We may also remark that they see Him always; for when the text says, “They shall see his face,” it implies that they never at any time are without the sight. Never for a moment do they unlock their arm from the arm of their Beloved. They are not as we are—sometimes near the throne, and anon afar off by backslidings; sometimes hot with love, and then cold with indifference; sometimes bright as seraphs, and then dull as clods—but for ever and ever they are in closest association with the Master, for “they shall see his face.”

Best of all, they see His face as it is now in all its glory. John tells us what that will be like. In his first chapter he says, “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev 1:14) to mark His antiquity, for He is the Ancient of days. “And his eyes were as a flame of fire…and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (vv. 14-16). Such is the vision that the redeemed enjoy before the throne; their Lord is all brightness, and in Him there is nothing to weep over, nothing to mar His glory. Traces of all the griefs He once endured are doubtless there upon that wondrous face, but these only make Him more glorious. He looks like a lamb that has been slain and wears His priesthood still; but all that has to do with the shame, the spitting, and (the) slaughter has been so transformed that the sight is all blissful, all comforting, all glorious. In His face, there is nothing to excite a tear or to beget a sigh. I wish my lips were unloosed and my thoughts were free that I could tell you something more of this sight, but indeed it is not given unto mortal tongues to talk of these things. I suppose that if we were caught up to see His face and should come back again, yet should we have to say like Paul that we had heard and seen that which it was not lawful for us to utter. God will not yet reveal these things fully to us, but He reserves his best wine for the last. We can but give you a few glimpses; but O beloved, wait a little; it shall not be long ere you also shall see His face!

Secondly, we turn to another thought: the surpassing clearness of that vision. “They shall see his face.” The word see sounds in my ears with a clear, full, melodious note. Methinks we see but little here. This, indeed, is not the world of sight: “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7). Around us all is mist and cloud. What we do see, we see only as if men were trees walking. If ever we get a glimpse of the spirit-world, it is like (a) yonder momentary lightning-flash in the darkness of the tempest, which opens for an instant the gates of heaven. In the twinkling of an eye, they are closed again; and the darkness is denser than before, as if it were enough for us poor mortals to know that there is yet a brightness denied to us.

The saints see the face of Jesus in heaven because they are purified from sin. The pure in heart are blessed: “they shall see God” (Mat 5:8), and no others. It is because our impurity remains that we cannot yet see His face, but their eyes are touched with eye-salve, and therefore they see. Ah, brethren, how often does our Lord Jesus hide Himself behind the clouds of dust that we ourselves make by our unholy walking. If we become proud, selfish, slothful, or fall into any other of our besetting sins, then our eye loses its capacity to behold the brightness of our Lord. But up yonder, they not only do not sin, but they cannot sin. They are not tempted, and there is no space for the tempter to work upon, even could he be admitted to try them. They are without fault before the throne of God; surely, this alone is a heaven— to be rid of inbred sin and the plague of the heart, and to have ended forever the struggle of spiritual life against the crushing power of the fleshly power of death. They may well see His face when the scales of sin have been taken from their eyes, and they have become pure as God Himself is pure.

They surely see His face more clearly because all the clouds of care are gone from them. Some of you while sitting here today have been trying to lift your minds to heavenly contemplation, but you cannot: the business has gone so wrong this week; the children have vexed you so much; sickness has been in the house so sorely; you yourself feel in your body quite out of order for devotion—these enemies break your peace. Now they are vexed by none of these things in heaven, and therefore they can see their Master’s face.

Moreover, as they have done with sins and cares, so have they done with sorrows. “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:4). We are none of us quite strangers to grief, and with some of us pain is an inseparable companion; we dwell in the smoky tents of Kedar still. Perhaps it is well that we should so be tried while we are here, for sanctified sorrow refines the soul; but in glory there is no affliction, for the pure gold needeth not the furnace. Well may they then behold Christ when there are no tears to dim their eyes, no smoke of this world to rise up between them and their Beloved, but they are alike free from sin, care, and sorrow. They see His face right gloriously in that cloudless atmosphere and in the light that He Himself supplies.

Moreover, the glorified see His face the more clearly because there are no idols to stand between Him and them. Our idolatrous love of worldly things is a chief cause of our knowing so little of spiritual things. Because we love this and that so much, we see so little of Christ. Thou canst not fill thy life-cup from the pools of earth, and yet have room in it for the crystal streams of heaven. But they have no idols there—nothing to occupy the heart, no rival for the Lord Jesus. He reigns supreme within their spirits, and therefore they see His face.

O blessed thought!…In heaven they never pray, “Oh, may no earthborn cloud arise To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes”;but forever and for aye they bask in the sunlight…They live in the sun itself. They come not to the sea’s brink to wade into it up to the ankles, but they swim in bliss forever. In waves of everlasting rest, in richest, closest fellowship with Jesus, they disport themselves with ineffable delight.