The Face Of Christ
Sermon delivered at The Moody Church by W.B. Hinson, D.D.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”—2 Corinthians 4:6
Luke says it was a set face. It had to be or He would have turned back, for He trod a road rough beyond all roads ever trod by mortal, and if He had not had the set face, He would have fallen by the wayside and left us.
It has been set for a long time. One day men guessed the age of the Son of Man, and they said about fifty, yet He was not thirty-three. But it was long e’er Christ was born that He had His face set toward the Cross. Before ever a star shone or a sun flamed or a mountain towered or an ocean sobbed, Christ had His face set towards Calvary, for He is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.
The Eternal Saviour
When people ask me when I was saved, I say thirty-five years ago on a June night. I looked up into the face of Jesus Christ and I said, “Wherever you go I will go too. Whatever you ask me I will try to do. I belong to you, body, soul and spirit. I belong to you.” I was saved then but I was saved nearly two thousand years ago. Not so old as that, surely not? But one day Jesus Christ on the Cross has his arms outstretched and He could not help it for they were nailed to the wood and they hung there with all hell dashing up against Him, and no friend to say a word of comfort, but he hung on until he was able to say concerning my salvation, “It is finished,” and I was saved at Calvary, but I was saved long before that.
There is a great Book up in Heaven and it is called the Book of Life, and in it the name of ever saved person is written, and my name has been there as long as God has lived, and that is forever and forever. The Lord had a set face, and he had it set a long, long time.
But it was a sad face. A man asked me the other night if Christ ever smiled. Why, of course He did. Didn’t He welcome little children? Children don’t go to people who wear a frown and a scowl. Jesus smiled on the children. How do I know it? Because I can’t help doing it myself.
His Sorrowful Countenance
The whole of His soul was sadness, for He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. There is no stone on the trail of life that you and I ever strike our feet against but Christ’s foot struck it first. There is never a thorn in our pathway but it brought blood on the brow of Christ before ever it pierced us. His soul was a life into which all the rivers of sorrow known to God flowed. He was made sad by His knowledge of men. When the Roman soldiers dashed by on the dusty road, Christ could look and see the very man who would take the hammer in one hand and the spikes in the other and nail the hand of the Lord fast to the wood, and he knew all the hatred they felt for Him and it made Him sad.
Yes, He was sad because of the sorrow of the men He knew so much about. Many and many a day my heart is as free from care as the heart of a robin that sings when the rain is over, but I look out into this world and I see the un-mothered child and I see the dreary man, and my heart grows as heavy as lead because of the sorrow of men. Christ knew the sorrow of every man on God’s Earth and He had more sympathy than all the rest of the world put together. It is compassion that wears us out. Hard work does not.
He was sad because He loved men. I have been poor, so poor while in college that I was cold and hungry. Once I had a letter written to my mother on my desk, and the letter lay there for a whole week because I could not get two cents to buy a stamp but I am a millionaire Godward. I know what it is to have pain, and when the surgeon said I had only one chance, I replied, “That is all a man wants anyway. Get your knives, gentlemen, and my God will give you skill. I am going out from here to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Since that time I have preached more sermons than I ever did in all my life before.
I know what it is to have opposition. I know what it is to have the saloon-keeper say, “You won’t live in this town many more hours.” I replied, “I will live in this town just as long as God Almighty likes.” I know all about that sort of thing, but I know this, Jesus Christ had sorrow and great trial with which mine is only as a mole hill compared to the Alps. Is only as a drop compared to the Pacific Ocean. He was sad because He loved men, and if you love men, you will get the lines of sadness in your own face too.
A Marred Visage
That face was scorned. Sometimes I sit down in my study and I say, “What would you do next Sunday night if, as you were preaching, a man walked up and spat in your face?” And I always have two answers. I will tell you what I should have done thirty years ago. There would have been a mix-up, and I should have been on top part of the time anyhow. But suppose he did that now. If that man would come up and spit in my face, blessed be my Lord and Christ, I would wipe it off, and I should tell that man how my Saviour had spittle on His face, and He had no handkerchief with which to wipe it off, and for Christ’s sake I would try to bring that man to the feet of the Son of God.
The angels loved to gaze upon that face. A man said, “You are a king and a king ought to have a crown,” and he twisted some brambles into a circle and pushed them down on the Lord Jesus Christ’s brow. I have often wondered how it came to pass that as Jesus stood in that judgment hall and had indignities heaped upon Him, there was not a single man who said: “There has been enough of that.” No! He who is everybody’s friend had not a single friend at all. His face was torn.
Yes, and it was a shrouded face. Jesus Christ came into this world and He could not save me by His life, and He could not save you and me by His teaching, beautiful though it was, but He to go to death to save us. He went and laid down on two sticks of timber that He Himself had grown, and they nailed Him fast to those two bits of wood, they lifted Him up and dropped that cross into the hole, and when that cross found its resting place it tore the hands and feet of Jesus Christ until ever bit of His nerve, the great cavalry regiment of pain plunged through His body, and He hung there for sixty minutes, and He still hung on until a second hour was gone, and He hung on still, and then at last He was able to say, “It is finished,” and He handed His soul into the hands of the Heavenly Father, and His face was covered up with the grave clothes. They put Jesus, who was born in a stable, into a borrowed grave. He did not have a cradle when He came into the world. He only had a manger, and He did not have a grave when He went out, until Joseph of Arimathea said, “You had better put that body in my grave.”
His Shrouded Features
There are a lot of people in the world today that want to shroud the face of Christ again, and as long as I can move a tongue between my jaws I will protest against anybody putting any kind of a shroud upon the face so that a poor sinner cannot see His face. They say that is bigotry. If it is then baptize me in it. I know the Christ who saved me. I know nobody ever rescued me from sin but Jesus Christ.
It was a sought face. There it lay in the tomb, that body, and early in the morning when the eastern sky began to show evidence of dawn, there came some women. They were on a strange quest. They wanted to find the dead Jesus, and soul of mine, what in the world should I do if they had succeeded in their quest? They wanted to find a dead Jesus, and when they could not find the dead Jesus they were troubled, and if they had found the dead Jesus we would have been troubled.
On that first Easter Sunday there was not one soul under God Almighty’s sky who believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were scared because they could not find the body. You remember Mary Magdalene saw a person standing near the tomb and she said, “I think you are the gardener. Tell me where they put the body of Jesus.”
It was a sought face. Glory be to God, there came a night when I came into the procession of those who were seeking Jesus. I learned from my father to swear and doubt God, but there came a time when I saw a great throng, and they said they were seeking the face of Jesus, and I said, “I will join you. I want to find that face, too.” Do you belong to Him tonight?
Well, it was not only a sought face but it was a seen face. The Lord appeared and he showed Himself to His disciples, and they saw His face after He came back from the grave. Did you ever see that face? Ah, I can see it tonight. I can see it now. I can see over there, “Come again and bring some wall of this tabernacles, but I can see the face of Jesus Christ just as plainly, though I see it with the eye of my soul, and not with the eyes of my body.
The Face Seen
When our boys went out on the fields of Flanders they sang the finest song, according to my thinking, that has yet been written for fighting times, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Yes, and my eyes have seen it. I saw it only last month when in a Canadian city I preached the story of the cross and at its close one hundred and thirty people said, “We want to be saved. Show us the Saviour.” And they saw that face and I saw it, too.
I came from Portland last Monday, where I preached on the preceding Sunday, and our church was in the midst of a revival of religion, and I am hungry to get back again next Wednesday night. Oh, yes, I have seen the face of Jesus Christ, and it broke my heart when I saw it, and it keeps on breaking my heart with sorrow and with joy.
Some of you are beginning now to look toward the face of Jesus Christ and before nine o’clock tonight you are going to look straight into His face and call Him your Saviour. The face of Jesus is a shining face. I know it from the Bible. John saw Jesus up in glory and he said His countenance was shining like the sun in his strength. A shining face.
I claim to know more hymns than anybody of my age in America, but some Sundays ago I heard the primary department sing a strange tune, and sitting in my study I said to myself, “What is that?” I went out and just opened the door and listened, and this is what I heard: “I want to make Jesus glad.” Those beautiful little children were singing that song. I went back to my study and I tried to keep on with the preparation of the sermon, but the big tears fell and blistered the paper. They were tears of joy, and I said, “God helping me, when in twenty minutes I go into the pulpit, I will make Jesus glad. I will preach so that He will have some additional gladness over that He had before.”
Making His Face Shine
Did you ever know the joy of saving somebody? Sometimes I get tired through preaching. When your body is all worn out, how Satan comes with some temptation to your soul. Then he comes and says, “It is no good doing this; you have never been of any use to anybody in your life.” I then hold up my right hand and I say, “Devil, my God, Lord and Saviour told the truth when He called you a liar. This is what you are. You say I never did any good in this world. Don’t you remember how, one day in an English town I was asked to go and see a sick man, and when I got to the hotel where he was staying nobody would take me to his room. When I got up to the head of the stairs I heard a voice crying, ‘I will. I will.’ That man was in the act of taking his own life by cutting his throat. I got hold of that man’s hand and the razor and took it from him and threw it under the bed, and my skin was not scratched.”
We have a wonderful God. I tell you I believe it. What was I to do with the man. If he had had as scrawny a throat as mine, he would have been dead. In a frenzy he had pulled up the flesh and cut deep gashes, but missed the center of his throat. I bound up that poor fellow’s throat until he got a stiff neck. I went out to a dry goods store and asked, “Do you keep clergymen’s collars?” The man said, “Do you mean dog collars?” We call them dog collars because they button behind instead of in front. And he asked, “What size do you wear?” I replied, “I want the biggest size you have.” I was thinking about that court plaster, and I returned to the hotel and put a clergyman’s collar around the throat of that poor fellow who had tried to commit suicide an hour before.
After I went home my mother went to my grip after I put the fellow to bed, and she said, “Walter, what is the matter? Your clothes are covered with blood.” I said, “Mother, I came across a fellow on the Jericho road who had a rough time among thieves and I had to bind him up with my night shirt.” That man came to be a preacher of the Gospel, and he has gone to heaven, gloriously saved. I tell the old devil my story, and when I get through with that story, I tell him to look at my hand. That had prevented that man from going to the grave of a wretched suicide.
As I have been telling you that story tonight my heart has been dancing with joy because I saved a man from physical death, but my Lord has the joy of knowing that He has saved more souls than there are stars in the midnight sky. Before we get through this service some of you people are going to take Him as your Saviour and there will come out a ray of light on His face and it will shine more than it does now. I get on the train at nine thirty tonight. I am already thinking of the face of my family that I shall see Wednesday night, and I am thinking of my church members. Hundreds of them will be in the church next Wednesday night and I know how glad they are going to be to see me because I will be glad to see them, but the face of Jesus Christ is lovelier than any other face in the world.
The Shunned Face
But I am told in the book of Revelation that the day is coming when men shall cry to the mountains and rocks. “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand.” Some people say there is no hell, but when there is some sort of experience that causes men to say that they would rather be buried when they see the face of Jesus Christ, there will be some real experience in it.
How shall I look at Him with eyes streaming with joy. He loved me enough to die for me. He loves me enough to take care of me. I am not afraid of Jesus. He is my Saviour. He is helping me now. He is encouraging me now. He is blessing me now.
A long way from here a boy quarreled with his father, and he said, “I am going out of this house and as God lives, I will never darken the door.” The mother got sick. The doctor said he did not know what was the matter with her. She had a complaint that a good many mothers have tonight—a broken heart. One day she said to her husband, “I am going to die,” and made a final request of him. He said, “I will do anything for you.” She asked him to write to the boy and ask him to come home. With anger still in his heart he said, “No!” She asked to be propped up in bed and said, “Give me a pencil and paper.” This is what she wrote: “My boy, come home. I am dying. Your Mother.”
And she sent the letter off to the faraway city where the boy was living, and when he read it he made a dash for the depot, got on the train, landed at the old home in the middle of the night. He opened the gate, walked down between the flower beds where he had often seen his mother, opened the door, walked upstairs, knew his mother’s room, and entered. Saw his father on this side of the bed, and with the old anger hot in his heart went right by the father and stood on the other side of the bed. She put out her hand to the boy and he laid hold of it. She put out the other hand toward the father and he laid hold of it. That woman gave her strength in bringing those two hands nearer to each other, but each of them knew she was dying. By and by she got the two hands until they touched, and on either side was the dead hand of the woman who loved the two.
I went away from God but my elder brother came to look after me, and after a while they got Him up on the cross, but on the cross He took the hand of my Heavenly Father and then he took my hand and He started bringing the two hands together, and the sun would not look on, and the heavens grew dark, and Jesus kept to His task and He brought those two hands nearer during those awful three hours, until at last the hand of God and the hand of man touched, and that is the way Jesus saved us. Let us love Him with that great love wherewith He hath loved us.
I preached in a city where I had previously preached. I asked about a man and they told me he was dying. I went to see him, and his face was getting grey in death. I said to him, “Are you saved?” He answered, “No.” I said, “Do you want to be?” He replied, “Yes.” I then brought to him a passage from God’s Word: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” I said to him, “My brother, you have two things to do and God will do one thing. Will you do your two?” And he answered, “I will.” We knelt down and this is what he said: “I don’t believe Jesus is in the grave. I believe that you raised Him up.” The other thing he said was this: “Oh God, I have not many days to live. My life is about done. The little bit of time I have left shall be yours.”
I then said, “Get up. You have done the two things and you can trust God to do His.” He got up and said, “Mr. Hinson, I never felt like this before.” I answered, “Of course you have not because you have never been saved.” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” and do it NOW.
Men and women, what are you going to do with this Christ tonight? Are you going to accept the salvation that has been offered to you? You have seen in the Word the set, sad, scorned, shrouded, sought, seen, shining, shunned face of Christ. Oh friends, tonight perhaps you have been thinking about your old mother, and there is nobody except Jesus that I would rather have you think about. She loved the Saviour. Why don’t you come to your mother’s Saviour? You have friends up in Heaven and you want to see them. They want you saved. But Jesus Christ holds out His hand and when you look at it you see a scar. That is where the spike pierced its way through, and He says, “Won’t you take me as your Saviour?” Some of you are thinking about Him right now. Won’t you crystallize your thought into an act?
If Jesus had been talking to you as long as I have been talking to you tonight, and if you saw Jesus Christ start and walk as I am walking now, and He came and stood here and said, “If you will come to me I will save you,” would you come? Jesus is here and He calls you and invited you and beseeches you to come and accept the salvation He purchased for you on Calvary.