(This article is dedicated to our son, Jonathan.)
Nearing the end of her illustrious song writing life, Fanny J. Crosby was asked by John R. Sweeney to pen some word to a melody he had scored. Under Holy Spirit inspiration, she wrote the verses and this chorus: "I shall know him, I shall know him, and redeemed by his side I shall stand, I shall know him, I shall know him by the prints of the nails in his hands." Though blinded by tragedy in infancy, this gentle lady knew her Lord and Savior by faith, and someday would recognize him by his nail prints.
"Doubting Thomas" did not believe the reports of Christ's resurrection. "But he said unto them, except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into his side I will not believe." Eight days later Christ again appears to his disciples and says to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have 'not' see, and 'yet' have believed" (John 20:24-29; Romans 10:9-10; 14:11-12; Philippians 2:10-11; Revelation 20:11-15 KJV).
"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourned for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10b). Revelation 1:7 is similar in reference: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him" and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." David prophecies of Christ in Psalm 22:16: "They pierce my hands and my feet." The minor prophet Zechariah in 13:6 foretold of the Savior: "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
The title selected for this article is "We shall see Jesus as he really is." Those not born again in the blood of Jesus by grace through faith and, without the Holy Spirit, would be especially susceptible after the church's rapture to believe 'any' false messiah. Anyone could surgically place scars in their hands, feet or side to deceive the world. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). Chapter 4 of 1 John records that the 'antichrist spirit' is 'already' at work (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of many who would come in his name saying they were Christ (or of Christ) and deceive many. This is inevitable, especially in these "last days."
A popular story is told about St. Martin De Porres (1579-1639) being visited by one who said: 'I am the Christ.' St. Martin was suspicious of the imposter and asked him: 'Where is the print of the nails?' When the man could not show his hands with the print of the nails in them then St. Martin knew he was a fraud. The supposed apparition then vanished.
Throughout the Old Testament, the pre-incarnate Christ, the only begotten son of the living God, appeared in Theophany or Epiphany to many persons including his meeting with Abraham as "Melchizedek" King of Salem (Genesis 14: 18-20; Hebrews 5:6 to 7:28; Psalm 110:4). The son of God appeared in visual form again to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. Daniel chapter 3 tells us that Nebuchandnezzar's men threw "three" Hebrew men into the fiery furnace, but the king recognized the "fourth" man in the fire as the son of God. Jacob saw God "face to face" when he wrestled with the prefigured Christ in Genesis 32:24-32.
Joshua sees and speaks with Jesus as the "captain of the Lord's Host and was instructed, as was Moses, "to take off his shoes" because he was standing on holy ground. (Joshua 5:13-15; both names, "Joshua" and "Jesus" are translated as "savior.") Daniel sees Christ in chapter 7; "the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool." Apostle John in Revelation 1 witnesses the resurrected, glorified Christ: "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters."
Isaiah 6:1 recognizes the Lord as "high and lifted up and his train filled the temple." Acts 7:55-56 tells that Stephen "being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." Isaiah chapter 53 describes the incarnate Christ, or our Redeemer as: "having no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (John 6:39).
We picture him historically during his earthly ministry with a beard and long hair. He was of Nazareth and called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23). Perhaps, we associate Jesus as with Samson and John the Baptist, performing a sacred Nazarite vow concerning haircuts. Isaiah 50:6 reports about our Lord's "beard" at the crucifixion: "I gave my back to the smiters, and may 'cheeks' to them that picked off the hair."
Through the centuries, most artist have portrayed our Jesus with similar head and facial hair style. In Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," Christ was reportedly modeled by Italian Pietro Bandinelli, who later, after spiraling downward into sin's lowest degradation and imprisoned, was also chosen by the artist to pose as Judas Iscariot. This story is believed by some to be a myth because it expands the painting's project time line by many years.
John 4:24 declares that God the "Father" is a "spirit." Paul tells us in Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 11:27 that God the "Father" is "invisible." Only the Son became "visible" and was embodied in the image of God. Colossians 2:9 reveals: "For in him (Christ) dwelleth 'all' the 'fullness' of the Godhead 'bodily'; and "the express image of his person"; (or of God the Father, Hebrews 1:3). By divine revelation Peter exclaims: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of living God" (Matthew 16:16). By divine revelation Mary calls Jesus "Rabboni; which is to say master" (John 20:16).
In a well-known movie, the lead character in his quest to know the Lord, sings about his faith in "the plastic Jesus on the dashboard of his car." I am reminded about God's commandment in Exodus 20: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." The Apostle Paul preached on this theme in Athens (Acts 17:16-34). We can only imagine Martin Luther's burden of reform and God's timely revelation concerning "justification by faith" and direct prayerful communication to God through Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:5).
Late in 2006, while attending a church prayer meeting and glancing at a picture of Christ, the Holy Spirit touched me about visualizing our Lord only as he appears in Revelation chapter one. It became a powerful night of spiritual blessing for me. A well-known gospel song describing the "glorified" facial features and voice of Christ has moved me deeply to tears. "That I may know him" (Philippians 3:10). "That we may admire him!" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrew 11:1; Romans 8:24). "For now we see through a glass, darkly: but then face to face, now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." "Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!" (1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:20; Hebrews 9:28) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! (Revelation 19:11-21)
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)