Rv 7:2-4,9-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12
All who want to see God, all who long to see His Face, they have one requirement; they must be clean of heart. Saint John, the beloved disciple, was pure of heart. In his exile on the Island of Patmos, he had many magnificent visions. He saw an angel holding the seal of the living God, and he heard the command given to that messenger of God. The angel was commanded to hold off on the project of destruction until the seal of God could be placed upon the foreheads of the servants of the LORD. Like the blood upon the doorpost of the slaves in Egypt this seal would protect the servants of God from the destroying angel. We were marked with the sign of the cross at our baptism and this sign became an indelible mark with the chrism of Confirmation. It is this sign that is renewed each year on Ash Wednesday as we begin another season of Lent and Easter. Saint John continued to have a vision of the future in which he saw the great multitude, which was countless, people from every race, nation, and tongue. They stood before the Lamb and cried out loud praise; “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” As one of the elders explained to Saint John, this crowd is made up of those who have survived the time of great distress. These are the saints, the pure of heart, who have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. These are the ones who gaze upon the face of the LORD, without fear of destruction and in the full joy of the heavenly Kingdom.
We are strangers and aliens no longer; we belong to the household of God. The more familiar we are with the friends of God; the more strange we are to the world. Such alienation is no real loss; indeed, it is an eternal benefit. Only if we are united to Christ, one with Christ, will we see God face to face. This encounter with the holy, holy, holy Lord will purify our hearts and make clean our eyes. It will likewise make us holy in the eyes of all who see us. This vision of glory and this glorious vision will be seen only when it is revealed that we are God’s children, even now. Everyone who has such a hope in Christ will make himself pure, even as Christ is pure. This purity includes moral uprightness, but it has much more to offer. We are summoned to purity of thought, word, intention, desire, daydreaming, night visions, and even motivation. By the grace and mercy of God we begin to see through the eyes of Christ. We see everything as God sees it, and we begin to value all things as they are in the sight of God.
When the Lord Jesus sees the crowds, he can see their whole being. He sees them as they really are from his vantage point upon the mountain. Because the Lord Jesus is the definition of blessedness, He is the only one who models what it means to be clean of heart. His own holiness is the source, and sustenance for our own holiness. If we are poor, we rely upon the sovereign care of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. If we are mourning, we enjoy the comfort of the only one who knows the true sadness of sin. If we are meek, we delight in the strength of the one who made heaven and earth. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be satisfied completely. If we are merciful, we find boundless mercy. If we see clearly, we cannot miss seeing the LORD face to face. If we seek peace, we will be known for who we are and called children of God. If we are persecuted because of our closeness to God, we are already enjoying the delights of our future glory. If we are insulted, we rejoice. If we are persecuted, we are glad. If we are condemned and associated with evil, then and only then, are we sure that we have become one with the Rejected One, the Crucified One, our Lord Jesus Christ. Can there be any greater blessedness? This is the fulfillment of all the visions of the saints. This is the delight of those who long to see the face of the LORD. This is the true joy of anyone who has kept himself pure, as the Lord Jesus is pure. Such is the life of the saints. Can there be any greater blessedness?