"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14
We become what we behold. Whatever we give our attention to shapes who we are.
The word behold means to observe someone or something that is particularly remarkable or impressive. It is different from just noticing someone. To "notice" someone is to recognize their presence without paying particular attention to detail. But to behold is to gaze; to intently look upon someone in order to discover who they truly are.
There are lots of people and places in our world worth beholding. The Swiss alps nearly demand that we behold their majesty. Sunset on the Pacific coast beckons us to sit down and take in its beauty. Movie stars and public figures of all types clamor for the attention of those who might admire their fame. And with simple purity, children tug on the pant leg of those they love, desiring to be seen and paid attention. Maybe this is precisely why it's so difficult for us to behold that which is most deserving: we live in a world where it can feel like everything and everyone is vying for our attention.
It was into this world that Jesus was humbly born. If there has ever been a person to behold, it is Him. The apostle John describes Him; "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory…." The word "seen" here also translates as "behold." John is showing us the appropriate response to Jesus: to behold Him. To look intently upon Him to discover who He truly is.
But why? Because He is glorious. In Jesus, we see the glory of the one and only Son of God, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Just a few verses prior, John revealed Jesus' deity, that He is God and that He was with God in the beginning. As John continues, he reveals that everything that was made was made through Him and that He alone is the light of all mankind (John 1:1-4)! If anyone is deserving of our attention, it is Jesus. If anyone is worthy of the lifelong pursuit of beholding, it is Him.
So what does beholding Jesus look like practically? Since Jesus is not physically here in front of us any longer, how do we behold Jesus now?
We behold Him through the Spirit, who lives inside of us. If we desire to see Jesus with greater detail and clarity, we need the help of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to ask the Spirit to show us who Jesus is. Jesus said it this way, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)
Any time we sit down to study the Scriptures or meditate on a specific passage, we must do our best to remember to ask the Spirit to help us see clearly and guide us into truth. This sounds simple, but the implications are enormous. It is the Spirit of God who reveals Jesus to us. If we are to behold Him in more significant ways, it will be because the Spirit reveals Him increasingly to us.
Maybe you find yourself desiring to know Jesus more, to behold him in greater ways. You need to know that your desire has found its rightful home. And in Jesus, you can gaze for all of eternity without exhausting His glory.
John's invitation still stands for you today, to behold His glory. Seek Him in prayer, in His living Word, and among the community of saints, asking the Holy Spirit to help you see His glory more and more. May we all come and behold Him.