When you close your eyes and recall the faces of those who have most profoundly shaped your life, how are they looking back at you? Is their expression kind or harsh? Loving or angry? Happy to see you? Or displeased?
Let’s face it. It matters.
When we close our eyes and imagine the face of Jesus looking back at us - What do we see -- in His eyes, His countenance? What do we read between the lines?
Let’s face it. It matters.
Though we have never (not yet in the natural) seen the face of Jesus, we undoubtedly have some generic image in mind of what the One who fully reveals the Father looks like. Perhaps a recollection of a portrait you have seen in a children’s illustrated Bible, a Sunday School room, or an art gallery.
I immediately recall three expressions: that faraway, distant gaze; the faint, gentle smile while holding a child or a lamb; and most commonly, a face etched with suffering - a crown of thorns pressed against His brow.
Last year, however, I became captivated with a fresh portrayal of Jesus I had never really stopped to consider before.
It’s important to envision this biblical scene before we can fully appreciate what unfolds.
In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has appointed about 70 of His followers -- sending them out, two by two, to prepare the nearby neighborhoods for His upcoming arrival.
He encourages this first generation of missionaries to see that the fields are ripe for harvest. Then, Jesus exhorts them to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more help, and He gives them some warnings and field instructions.
Finally, He confers upon these simple ones the authority and power to, “trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome all of the power of the enemy” in His Name and in His absence.
In other words, they are being sent out to do the works which Jesus Himself had been doing!
I don’t know what they expected would happen, but what they discovered was that “It” worked!! The power...the authority...the compassion...The Name.
Demons flee, the sick are healed, the Kingdom comes to the neighborhood!
At the command of their lips, and flowing through their very own hands, the power of Christ is present to set the captives free. They are astounded, filled with joy, and eager to return and recount what they’ve seen and experienced with their very own eyes!
And then… as they return, their effusive joy is met with the overflowing joy of Jesus!
“On that same occasion Jesus was filled by the Holy Spirit with rapturous joy.” Luke 10:21 - Weymouth
rejoiced and gloried, rejoiced greatly,
triumphal elation or jubilation,
ecstasy … rapture ...euphoria.
Such are some further descriptions of this mysteriously beautiful outburst.
Upon reading this verse I paused for a moment, consulting my memory, for I had never seen this illustrated. I sensed the Spirit prodding me to stop and truly “see” this with the eyes of my heart, to meditate and linger long on what this might look like - what rapturous joy looks like on the Son of God.
Did he throw His head back and belt out a deep belly laugh, or did He weep with proud tears? Was intense pleasure radiating from His face? Was Jesus demonstrative or subtle? Did he jump up and down? Applaud? Pump his fists in the air in triumph, or engage in something akin to high-fives or fist bumps all around?
Or, did His eyes just have that eternally knowing look?
What made Jesus so happy??
He tells them,
“I saw Satan fall like a lightning-flash out of heaven.”
If that alone isn’t reason enough to send anyone into unadulterated ecstasy, I don’t know what is.
He’s had a vision of the works of the enemy undone through His 70 emissaries, and perhaps even envisioned Satan’s final undoing!
Yet, there seems to be even more behind his joy...Yes, seems He’s gotten a glimpse into something else, something further, something beyond this occasion.
I cannot help but infer that Jesus has been afforded, while still among His created, a foretaste of what lies ahead when He shall be with them no more.
Miles and millenniums forward, and as a result of the death He must die, He’s aware of the millions and millions who will experience deliverance and salvation through the power of His Name!
Yes, I believe He is seeing, among these 70 sent-ones and beyond, some of the fruit -
a taste, of the innumerable, immeasurable, rewards of His emminent suffering.
“When he sees ALL that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied…”
Perhaps He’s been infused with the memory of purposes eternal --an epiphany of why it is going to be worth it, why this whole plan laid out before the foundation of the world is going to be worth it.
And, I believe it was this very joy that sustained Him as He journeyed through the anguish of the cross.
“For the joy set before Him, he endured the cross.”
Is it any surprise then that He is caught up in ecstasy, and breaks out in spontaneous, irrepressible prayer - gushing forth,
“My Father, I give you fervent thanks
that Thou hast hidden these things from sages and men of understanding,
and hast revealed them to babes.
Yes, Father, for such has been Thy gracious will!”
Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and cries out to the Father in joyful gratitude for the participation and inclusion of these simple ones in the advancement of the Gospel!
The Trinity sharing in mutual jubilation!
And Oh, can it be that He also sees our inclusion and participation as well; yours and mine? And can it be that He is unreservedly thrilled?! Are we an integral part of the “joy set before Him?”
So, what did it look like to see Jesus in “rapturous joy?”
I don’t exactly know. But, I want to daydream about this very countenance, and let it be etched in my heart and mind always. I want to be motivated by and live my life before, this very face.
Could this be what we would see if He were looking at you? At me?
Let’s face it. It matters.