Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash; Credit:Juanmonino

Soon after I became a Christian, I learned, at the little mission church I attended, an old chorus:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Later I discovered that these words are the refrain of a hymn which begins, “O soul, are you weary and troubled?”

Perhaps many of us are weary and troubled at present. We live in an age of turmoil, with wars looming and wars in progress, with atheism and secularism gaining ground in many societies, with a sharply rising cost of living.

Some of us have personal concerns on top of the world situation: broken relationships, sickness or the frailties of old age, money worries, and much more.

Let us, therefore, rest our gaze on the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour. It is He who invites the weary and burdened to come to Him and find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-29).

It is He who tells us not to let our hearts be troubled as we trust in Him and accept the peace He gives (John 14:1,27).

He Himself knew what it was to be troubled in soul or spirit for many different reasons (John 11:33; 12:27; 13:21) and went on to bear the sins of the whole world as He died in agony on the cross.

As we fix our eyes on Him, we are encouraged to persevere through whatever difficulties He allows to come our way.

… let us run with perseverance the race marked
out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and
perfecter of faith… Consider him who endured such
opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow
weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1b-3)

We are approaching the glorious celebration of Easter, the resurrection of Christ. His rising to new life is attested by many witnesses who saw Him and recognised Him (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:30-32).

“I have seen the Lord!” said the first witness, Mary Magdalene, to the disciples (John 20:18). “We have seen the Lord!” said the other disciples to Thomas after Jesus had appeared to them in the evening of that first Easter Day (John 20:25).

Thomas insisted not only on seeing Him but also on touching Him (John 20:17,25-28).

We may be tempted to envy those who saw Christ with their physical eyes, or those who have seen Him in visions and dreams.

Yet in our hearts we can turn our eyes upon Jesus, as we focus our thoughts on Him, feeling our troubles recede as we gain an eternal perspective, and letting His peace and presence overwhelm us.

Jesus, however, told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen [me] and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

And let us remember that one day, in heaven, we shall indeed see Him. We shall see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:4).

In the words of another old hymn,

1. Face to face with Christ, my Saviour , Face to face – what will it be When, with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me?
3. What rejoicing in His presence, When are banished grief and pain; When the crooked ways are straightened And the dark things shall be plain.
2. Only faintly now I see Him, With the darkling veil between, But a blessed day is coming When His glory shall be seen.4. Face to face – O, blissful moment! Face to face – to see and know; Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so.


March/April 2023 Barnabas Aid Magazine

https://www.barnabasfund.org/resources/magazine/2023/bfaidmar_apr23.pdf

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.