Beholding Jesus

by | Oct 5, 2022

When my relationship with Keri started to become serious after my Junior year of college, I made a summer trip from Chicago down to Texas to spend a week with my girlfriend and her family.  I was excited.  I was nervous.  But, looking back, one of the things I remember most is how completely struck I was by the difference of the Texan culture compared to the fast-paced big-city suburban lifestyle that I knew.

Keri grew up on 80 acres, 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store.  And her family didn’t know hurry.  Dinner preparation was usually a couple hours and the time around the table might be just as long.  At first, I felt anxious, as though there were surely things that needed to be getting done.  The anxiety quickly waned over the next couple days and I actually felt a sort of peace that I wasn’t familiar with.  There was more intentionality, more reflection, and more overall enjoyment.

Some of us might remember experiencing those same feelings during the initial Covid quarantine.  Though it was a time of uncertainty, it was a sweet time for many of us who were forced to slow down.  There was, quite literally, nothing else to do other than spend time with our immediate families.  For many, new habits were formed and old hobbies were resurrected.  For others, the time was largely squandered.

I’m embarrassed to confess that sometimes I long for another quarantine.  Two and a half years later and my life is busier than it’s ever been.  Responsibilities, obligations, deadlines, expectations, and opportunities crowd most corners of my calendar.  I know I am not in the minority.  The hustle & bustle of life can be dizzying.  How often do we participate in things without fully engaging in them?  Surely we are missing so much of the beauty in the details of this life.

I fear that we are, likewise, missing out on beholding Jesus as well.  “Behold” isn’t really a word we use too much in our daily vernacular.  (Neither is “vernacular,” but I thought I’d go for it!)  Depending on the translation, “Behold” is used nearly 1500 times in the Bible.  It means “To look upon with great intent, to gaze upon, to marvel, to wonder, to be amazed or astonished by.”  How often do we really slow down long enough to “Behold our God” (Isaiah 40:9)?

2 Corinthians 3:18 reads, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”  In other words, Paul is saying that, as we focus on Jesus, think upon Jesus, and reorient our lives around Jesus, we will be transformed to become more like Jesus!  Beholding Jesus is actually the driving source of sanctification.  And sanctification is the goal of the believer!

But notice the letter to the church at Corinth says that we’ll be transformed from one degree of glory to another.  One degree.  That’s not much.  It’s hardly noticeable.  But that’s usually the way that God works in our lives.  Most of us don’t have a Saul-to-Paul, knock-you-off-your-horse, radical transformation.  It’s usually not a single verse or devotional or sermon that profoundly changes us, but rather a slow, steady diet of meditating on who Jesus is and what He has done. Exactly 100 years ago, a song was penned that has become a well-known hymn.  The lyrics that Helen Lemmel recorded in 1922 are beautifully accurate.  “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.”  May God grant us one more degree as we slow down and behold the splendor and majesty of Jesus!