She looks upon the great I Am
The gift of heaven in her hands
Gloria I hear the angels singing
Gloria all of the heavens ringing
Gloria the Savior of the world is in her arms
She’s staring at the face of God
In Exodus 3:14, God tells a doubting Moses, “I Am who I Am,” and in John 8:58, Jesus tells the Jews who did not believe He was the Lord and Messiah, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am.” Every word Jesus spoke was intentional and He didn’t say, “I was.” He said, “I Am.” He meant, “I Am who I Am, and I am both the same One who spoke the covenant promises to Abraham and the One who knit him together in his mother’s womb.” Jesus is the Word made flesh, (Jn 1:1-4, 14) and all the fullness of God dwells in Him bodily (Col 1:19, 2:9). When Mary held that newborn baby in her arms that night in Bethlehem, she was holding God in her arms. When Jesus’ tiny infant fingers wrapped around Mary’s, as babies often do, God was holding her hand. It was God who nursed at Mary’s breast and fell asleep in her arms. And it was God Himself who lay sleeping in a feeding trough while Mary, Joseph, some barn animals, and a few shepherds watched Him breathe in and out with that same breath that was breathed into humanity in the beginning (Gen 2:7).
Can you even imagine the wonder that Mary, Joseph, His brothers and sisters were invited into as His earthly family? Every day for thirty years before His public ministry would begin, they lived with God in the flesh. What was it like to teach Jesus about how He created the world or tell Him the story of when He led Israel out of Egypt? What were Jesus’ creations like when He drew or built something – did He ever build a really big boat (Gen. 6:14)? Did He ever play with dirt and then look at His own skin with wonder (Gen 2:7)? Did He ever tell his siblings the names of all the stars (Ps. 147:4) or tell them the exact number of hairs on their heads (Mt. 10:30)? Do you think His first word was “light” (Gen 1:3)? It is easy for me to get lost in the absolute wonder and glory of the Incarnation. I even find myself envious of those who were there to witness and partake of His first coming. Yet Jesus Himself said, “It is to your advantage that I go…” (Jn 16:7). How can this be true?
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Moses and the Old Testament saints longed to see the face of God. David said that he sought only one thing: to dwell in the house of the Lord, seek Him in His temple, and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord all his days (Ps 27:4). Paul reiterates this in Philippians 3 when he says that he counts everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus (Phil 3:7-13). Indeed, this is the heart posture of all who know God – we long to see Him in His glory and beauty, to listen to His voice, to know His heart, and to worship at His feet. When Jesus left His throne, took on flesh, and dwelt among us, He revealed and communicated His heart and purposes in a profound and beautiful way to humanity. John said, “what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life… we testify and proclaim to you” (1 Jn 1:1-4) We have the testimony of the apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God to bear witness of the revelation of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
But that isn’t the end of the story. After His Ascension, Jesus left us with an immeasurable gift. He did not leave us empty, but gave the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling among and within us. ‘The light of the knowledge of the glory of God’ is found as we behold ‘the face of Christ’ and even though we aren’t able to physically walk and talk with Jesus on the earth right now, we have the Helper, the Spirit of truth dwelling within us who teaches us and brings to remembrance everything that Jesus spoke and revealed (Jn 14:16-17, 26). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would speak to us, glorify Jesus, and take what is His and reveal it to us (Jn 16:12-15). The Biblical call to be watchful and wise is a call to look upon the face of Christ and behold the glory of God. The Holy Spirit within us is the key to beholding Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the escort into the revelation of God’s heart that we are seeking. He gives life to our gaze. He is the Voice that we long to hear. He is the life that raises the words off the page and writes them on our hearts. He is the author of the truths and events that we are reading about in the Word, and He will bring them to life in a real and present way before the very eyes of our hearts if we ask Him to.
It was not enough for Jesus that we just know about Him; He has invited us as friends (Jn 15:4-5, 15) into communion and fellowship with the Godhead. This is an unimaginable invitation and a stunning reality made available to us through the new birth. There is no greater pleasure than that of beholding the beauty of Jesus Christ, the glory of God and the Word made flesh. This Advent season, as you decorate your trees and sing your carols, open up the Word, specifically the life of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, and ask the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do – give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation and illuminate your heart (Eph 1:17, 2 Cor 4:6)– as you set your gaze upon the glorious face of the Great I Am.