Wanting to see Jesus's Face-blog by Melanie Newton

Wanting to See Jesus’s Face

During worship at my church several years ago, the familiar song, “I Want to Know You,” struck a different chord in me than usual. The chorus represents the soul speaking to Jesus about knowing Him more. This is what the song had us declare, “I want to know You, I want to hear Your voice, I want to touch You.” The next phrase is what grabbed me, “I want to see Your face.” Yes, my heart is wanting to see Jesus’s face.

Christianity is Christ. It is not a lifestyle or rules of conduct. It is not an organization whose members were initiated by the sprinkling or covering of water. Christianity is about Christ and our relationship with Him. His twelve disciples and others who followed Him while He was on earth were no different as people than we are except they physically beheld the risen Christ. They saw His face!

We must see Him through eyes of faith and allow the gospels to leap off the page revealing our Lord. You and I must frequently read the Gospels, tell the stories, and watch movies as often as needed to know His life well because Christianity is Christ!

Movies that Portray Christ

I love the time period in which we live because we can see actors portray Christ. Sometimes they do a really good job. Other times, the actor is nothing like a Jew who would have lived in Israel 2000 years ago. When I lead a group through my study of New Testament women, I look for the best video clips that portray the scene where Jesus interacts with that woman or women specifically. My favorites are those that narrate directly from the Scriptures without adding embellishments.

  • I have often used clips from The Gospel of John: The Visual Bible even though the actor portraying Jesus is decidedly not Middle Eastern. The narration and spoken words are verse-by-verse from the book of John (Good News Version). I use clips from this movie as we study the Samaritan woman (John 4), the adulterous woman (John 8), Mary and Martha (John 11-12), and Mary Magdalene (John 20).
  • I also like to use The Gospel of Luke movie by the LUMO Project. The actors are authentic Middle Eastern people. The scenes are acted out with narration that is verse-by-verse from Luke. I use clips from this movie as we study the widow of Nain (Luke 7), the immoral woman (Luke 7), Martha and Mary (Luke 10), and the crippled woman (Luke 13).
  • The Gospel of Mark movie, also by the LUMO Project, is another favorite. The scenes are acted out with narration that is verse-by-verse from Mark. I use clips from this movie as we study the Canaanite woman (Mark 7) and the two sick women (Luke 8).
  • I have not seen the other two movies from the LUMO project (covering Matthew and John).

We are visual creatures. It can be very faith-affirming to envision how the words we read in the gospel accounts would look if we were there in person watching each scene unfold. This is especially true when the actual words are used without embellishment. That way our emotions respond to truth, not to someone doing a good job of storytelling—other than God, of course. Good storytelling isn’t wrong. I just prefer the actual text brought to life by the actors and narrators.

Artists that Portray Jesus’s Face

BUT modern actors are just that—actors. They are not Jesus. Their face is not Jesus’s face. We have only a few references to His appearance. Isaiah 53:2 says that He had no particular beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. His appearance must have been commonplace. Mark 9 describes His transfiguration where His glory shone through His human skin. But that was only for a brief time. Revelation 4 describes Him in fearsome display. Yet that song I referenced at the beginning fills my heart with a longing to know what His face looks like. We humans are drawn to faces from the time we were babies.

Through the years, many artists have attempted to portray the face of Jesus. Some are inviting; others have fearsome looks, even in children’s books. Then, I read the book Heaven Is for Real in which a little boy (Colton) recounts his visit to heaven when he was only 3 years old. At the end is a reference to what two children saw as they beheld Jesus’s face in visions.

According to Heaven Is for Real, Colton died for 3 minutes and spent that time in heaven with Jesus. Over the next several years, he would describe to his parents in detail what he saw—many of the details he could not have known any other way than by actually being there in God’s heaven, not just having a dream! Colton’s best way of describing Jesus’s face was that our Lord had beautiful eyes. Whenever he saw pictures of Jesus in a book or painting over the next 3 years, he would be quick to point out what was wrong with the picture. Jesus did not look like that.

One day, Colton’s father showed him another picture of Jesus. A young girl named Akiane had visions of heaven at the age of four. At eight-years-old, she painted a portrait of the Jesus she had seen earlier. Based on the news report surrounding the portrait, the girl’s descriptions of what she had seen in heaven matched Colton’s memory so much that the father was curious to see Colton’s response to the portrait. Without giving any background information, Colton’s dad just showed him the picture and asked what was wrong with it. Colton’s response was to stop and stare at the picture for a while then reply, “Dad, that one’s right.”

Well, when I got to that point in the book, I googled the portrait of Jesus painted by Akiane Kramarik and saved it to my computer. I was immediately drawn to the manly strength in the face and, yes, very beautiful eyes. Could this be the face of Jesus? Or at least, could it be a similar likeness? If two children agreed that this was the face they saw during their short time in heaven, then maybe I was seeing His face too. And I loved that!

Picturing Jesus Encourages Me in My Faith

I am a visual learner. I remember more of what I see than what I hear. I have always pictured myself during my prayer time bowing before Jesus’s throne, opening my heart to Him. Now, I have a face to put to that, and I love it! Maybe it’s not exactly what Jesus looks like, but if it is close because it is how He presented Himself to two children, the childlike faith in me responds with great joy!

So, I’ve put Akiane’s painting of Jesus on my phone. I can show it to people. What a conversation starter! And what woman would not be drawn to such a face (and the One with such a face) when I share with her that Jesus is the one who loves her! Not the wimpy or imaginary figure often presented. That Jesus has the power to make her life something beautiful. That Jesus is the One she can trust, the one I do trust.

I know for sure that at the end of this earthly life I will see Jesus’s face as He really is. For now, I am grateful for those who have provided visual images of what He might look like.

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Melanie Newton is the founder of Joyful Walk Ministries, an online ministry that helps women learn to study the Bible for themselves and grow their Bible-teaching skills to lead others on a joyful walk with Jesus. Melanie has written many Bible study guides (available on Bible.org and her website) and presented insightful messages to large groups of women. All of her BIble Studies are available as books on Amazon.com. Melanie is wife to Ron Newton (“Integrity at Work” ministry), loves to be outside in her garden, and enjoys her yearly fix of boiled crawfish.

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