By Tim Sullivan


As we “run the race that is set before us,” there will be days when we grow weary and faint of heart. When we are tempted to lose hope, the Bible reminds us to consider the examples of those who ran this race before us, and especially, to look unto Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

When you look unto Jesus, who do you see? People have come to diverse conclusions regarding the Nazarene. What is your conception of God’s only begotten Son? When he tabernacled on earth, many Jews looked at Jesus and saw only a man they considered the bastard son of Mary. They esteemed themselves better than he, for, they said, “We be not born of fornication” (Jn. 8:41). Christ understood the reason for their spiritual blindness.

John 8:42-43:
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

To truly see Jesus, he said, is to see the one who sent him.

John 12:44-45:
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

Jesus did not differentiate between believing on him and the one who sent him. Much to the chagrin of the religious leaders of his time, he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6).

In chapters 14 through 17 of the Gospel of John, we read of Christ’s words to his apostles after Judas had left to betray him and before they ventured into the garden called Gethsemane. In those hours leading up to his greatest challenge, Jesus concerned himself with bringing comfort and strength to those he would leave behind.

John 14:5-7:
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

Jesus said to know him is to know his Father. But Philip was still not satisfied. Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (v. 8). Jesus marvelled that Philip could be with him for so long and still be blind concerning who he was.

John 14:9:
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Philip could not see past the flesh of Jesus. He failed to grasp a great precept of spiritual understanding. Philip judged according to appearance.

John 7:24:
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” In essence he said, “He that has really seen me has seen the Father.” To see Jesus for who he really is requires divine intervention, revelation from God. By all appearances, Jesus was only a man. Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that he “was made in the likeness of men.” Furthermore, “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” All who judged him by appearance alone could only see “the carpenter’s son” (Matt. 13:55). Only a select few grasped the fullness of the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God.

Matthew 16:16-17:
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The first humans, Adam and Eve, were created. Ever since that time, all people are born of two natural parents. Jesus is unique in that he was born sharing two natures – the divinity of his Father and the humanity of his mother. However, his divinity was not outwardly evidenced. To those without “eyes to see” he was a man like all others. His true identity had to be spiritually revealed.

Even today, many people who look unto Jesus only look “skin deep.” They look to Jesus and see only the man, the son of Mary. They cannot see beyond the veil of his flesh.

As they journeyed through the Wilderness, the Israelites worshipped God in a dwelling called the Tabernacle. Hebrews 9 describes the interior of this house of God.

Hebrews 9:2-5:
For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

A veil (or vail) of woven cloth separated the sanctuary or “holy place” from the “most holy place” where the ark of the covenant was kept.

Exodus 26:33:
And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

The veil shielded man from seeing God face to face, for the Bible says no man can see God and live.

Exodus 33:20:
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

It was in the “most holy place” where God met with the high priest.

Exodus 30:6:
And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest anointed the veil with the blood of atonement and went beyond the holy place into the most holy place to make sacrifice for the people of God.

Exodus 30:10:
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

Hebrews 9:6-7:
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

For centuries, devotees of the Judaic faith kept the ordinances of God, unaware of the fullness of the picture that God had in mind. Hebrews 10 teaches us the significance, the meaning, of that veil.

Hebrews 10:19-20:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

The veil represented the body of Christ. Just like that thickly woven cloth, the flesh of Christ shielded mortal man from seeing the glory of God within. On the day Jesus was crucified, that veil was torn in two.

Matthew 27:50-51:
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

The veil was gone. The Spirit of God was no longer hidden behind a veil of flesh. When Jesus rose from the dead, all that he had inherited from his mother Mary – his humanity – was left behind in the sepulchre with the linen cloth he was buried in.

When you “look unto Jesus” who do you see? Do you see only what the Pharisees saw – the son of Mary? Or can you see beyond the veil to see the glory within?

John 1:18:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

When Moses came down from mount Sinai with the tables of testimony, his face was aglow with God’s glory. Exodus 34:30 says, “when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.” Verse 33 says, “And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.” Now, Moses was only a man with the glory of God upon him. Imagine if God had sent his Son, the personification of his glory, to earth “unveiled”!

2 Corinthians 3:15 says, “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” The next verse shines with the Spirit of truth: “Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.”

Only those who turn to the Lord can see beyond the veil of his flesh. They will see the Father in his Son. To really see Jesus is to see the Father. To really see Jesus is to see God.



From the October 2004 issue of The Vine & Branches