Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This past week as I was teaching a Bible class to 4th through 6th Graders, we talked about meeting Jesus face-to-face for the first time. Have you ever seen the picture of Jesus welcoming someone into heaven with a hug? This picture hung in my Mom’s home and was one of her favorites.
Our Bible class discussion flowed from me telling the story in Joshua 5:13-15 where Joshua met the “Commander of the Lord’s Army.” Here’s the story…”When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.” (Joshua 5:13–15, NLT).
When Joshua came into contact with the Lord, he was in awe. He didn’t rush up to him and give him a hug, but rather he had a deep reverence when he realized he was in the presence of the Lord. This incident reminds us exactly of when Moses approached the burning bush (Exodus 3) and was commanded to remove his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. Both of these incidents are examples of the appearance of the Son of God before He took flesh upon Himself in Bethlehem.
The point is, what do you think you will do when you see Jesus face-to-face for the first time? I think most people who love Him with their whole heart have imagined this meeting, and think of it much like the picture portrays. Most would imagine running up to Jesus and giving Him a hug. But I would suggest a different response for your first encounter.
I believe it can be argued that the Apostle John was Jesus’ closet friend on earth. Throughout the Gospel of John, he refers to himself as “the one who Jesus loved.” At the Last Supper it was John who had the position of honor at Jesus’ right hand as they reclined at dinner (John 13:24). John was always among the Jesus’ inner circle—at the transfiguration; when Jesus went into the house of the synagogue leader to raise his daughter from the dead; and in the Garden of Gethsemane. John knew Jesus better than anyone on earth.
Yet when John came face-to-face with the Jesus in all His glory we read… And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:13–18, NLT).
John, who knew Jesus better than anyone on earth, fell at Jesus’ feet when he saw Him face-to-face. If John had this response, why would you think you would be different when you meet Him for the first time?
I often picture myself meeting Jesus face-to-face. In my mind’s eye, I imagine “looking upon Him who they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10) and having the air sucked out of my lungs as the sight of Him takes my breath away. My spontaneous, uncontrollable reaction is to fall at His feet. Lying there before Him in deepest worship, I imagine myself with my arms around His feet holding on for dear life…kissing His feet and washing them with my tears. I imagine holding onto to Jesus the way Mary Magdalene held onto Him the morning of His resurrection when she met Him in the garden (John 20:17).
Only after I have worshipped at His feet will He invite me to His welcoming hug!! Only then will I have the thrill of living in the eternal presence of the One who died for me. Only after “falling at His feet as if I were dead” will I have the inexpressible joy of walking with Him and serving Him each day for eternity. O I shutter at the thought. I am in awe of what I see in my mind’s eye…the joy and life of meeting my Savior face-to-face!!
Do you know Him like that? Do you long to be in His eternal presence? Are you, like the Apostle Paul and me, “looking for your blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ?” (Titus 2:13). Are you “looking forward to and hastening the coming day of the Lord?” (2 Pet. 3:12).
What will you do when you meet Jesus face-to-face for the first time? No matter how much we try to imagine it, Paul summed it up when he wrote, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT).
Onward at His feet,