Seeking the Face of Jesus

Luke 9: 7-9
Hg 1:1-8 / Psa 149

Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he kept trying to see Him.
(Luke 9:9)

Where can we find our Lord Jesus?
From our troubles His face we seek;
May His Word and Spirit lead us
To see Him in the poor and meek.

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed, because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9)


Herod the tetrarch was one of the sons of King Herod the Great, the ruthless author of the massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem (Mt.2:16) when he tried to destroy the infant Jesus Who was prophesied to become the ruler of Israel (Mic 5:1), and was therefore a threat to his throne. Also known as Herod Antipas, the tetrarch was no less merciless as his father, having John the Baptist beheaded on the whim of Herodias’ daughter, Salome, who had pleased him and his guests when she danced during his birthday party (Mt.14:3-11).

Being a Jew himself, Herod Antipas believed in the resurrection of the dead, and so did not reject the possibility that John the Baptist, being a man of God, could have been raised from the dead. The Jews also believed the words of the prophet Malachi, who wrote, “I will send you Elijah, the prophet before the day of the Lord comes” (Mal.3:23). And so Herod the tetrarch was confused. For all his power, he could not see Jesus. People of power and influence fall into this sad predicament. Their worldly advantage is their spiritual disadvantage. They simply cannot see Jesus. Although some attempt to seek Him out, their pride or self-sufficiency, makes their quest half-hearted, and they fail to see the Lord in others – especially not in the faces of the poor, for whom they only hold contempt. It was never for their eyes to see, nor for their ears to hear the words of our Lord, Who said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt.5:3)

A Christian is always seeking the face of his Savior. At times our Lord comes to us in our meditation – especially when we receive Him in Holy Communion. But most of the time, we try to see Him in the wrong places – in images or statues, which are merely ‘works of human hands’. He would prefer that we see Him in the faces of the poor, the malnourished children, the lame, the blind, the sick and imprisoned, which, unfortunately, many of us choose to ignore. Like Herod, we do not try hard enough to seek the face of Jesus.

There are days when we are inspired and moved by the Spirit with joy and gratitude. But there are also days when we wake up troubled and afraid, uncertain about our faith. There are moments when we feel uplifted in having served the Lord, but there are also times when we feel that we have not been in touch with Him, when our prayers seem empty and mechanical, and we are beset with pessimism. We feel like the writer of Ecclesiastes, who wrote: “All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?. . . All speech is labored; there is nothing man can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing.” (Eccl.1:2-3,8) Yes, our eyes can never be satisfied until we have learned to see Jesus in others, including those we find unsightly. Our ears and hearts cannot be “filled” until we hear and read the Word of God in Scriptures. Only then will we cease to be perplexed and depressed.

We praise You, Father, that You have made it possible for us to see our Lord Jesus in the faces of others and in the Gospel. ‘Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Fill us at daybreak with Your love, that all our days we may sing for joy’ (Psalm 90:12,14). Amen.

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