Four Faces of Expressing Christ

Graduation season is upon us. Many saints will be leaving a familiar environment of the full-time training or college to start a new phase of life.

A common concern for saints starting a job or graduate school program is how to relate to their new colleagues or classmates. Some may simply be worried about the negative influence of worldly peers. Others may have an aspiration to contact others for the sake of the gospel, but feel uncertain about doing so with close, long-term acquaintances. Yet others may feel limited by professional regulations or academic mores regarding overt gospel preaching.

How then can a graduate student or working believer be in the world, but not of the world? (John 17:11, 16) What attitude or view should one carry into these new environments?

We find some help in an unexpected portion of the Word: the four faces of the living creatures in Ezekiel:

“And from the midst of it there came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces…As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and the four of them had the face of a lion on the right side, and the four of them had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four of them had the face of an eagle.” – Ezekiel 1:5-6a, 10

In verse 5, the four living creatures bear the appearance of a man.  This matches the appearance of the One on the throne above the living creatures: “…upon the likeness of the throne was One in appearance like a man” (v.26). The significance of this awesome scene is deep: the expression of the Lord Jesus, the One on the throne, is manifested in His fine humanity.  Likewise, as the four living creatures, we believers express God as a man.

God needs and uses our uplifted, transformed humanity for His expression.  The more we advance in the Christian life and in God’s organic salvation, the more properly human we become.  People who contact us do not touch a strangely spiritual, otherworldly, angelic being; rather they see an expression of the genuine, normal, fine, balanced humanity of Jesus.

Face of a Man – The primary face of each of the four living creatures is that of a man. This typifies the Lord’s normal human life as seen throughout the Gospels.  On one hand He performed miracles, on the other hand He was so ordinary that people wondered, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:55).

At work, at school, or in our neighborhood, we too need to have the face of a man.  Our conduct, speech and expression should all be authentically human, though not through our natural humanity, but by the humanity of the Lord Jesus.

“We need to realize, therefore, that we should be ordinary, that is, we should be the same as common, ordinary human beings. Although we pray, read the Bible, attend the meetings, and serve God, our appearance is still the appearance of a man, and our face is the face of a man. In our dress we are proper, but we are ordinary, not peculiar or eccentric.” – Life Study of Ezekiel, p.52

Face of a Lion – As king of the animals, the lion signifies reigning, victory, boldness, strength, and vigor.  To have the face of a lion is to aggressively stand against anything sinful or worldly.

“If in the office you are a proper man, others will be drawn to you. However, those who are drawn to you may be “germs” that can corrupt you. Because they like you, they may invite you to participate with them in a certain kind of worldly amusement. At such a time you should behave not like a man but like a lion.” – Life Study of Ezekiel, p.53

Though tender and lowly in His humanity, the Lord also expressed the face of the lion at the appropriate times.  Whether it was driving the money changers out of the temple (John 2), or lambasting the scribes and Pharisees as “Serpents! Brood of vipers!” (Matt. 23:33) the Lord was truly the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). When it comes to Satan, sin, and the world, we also should live and express Christ as the bold, kingly lion.

Face of an Ox – The lion’s face on the right side is counter-balanced by the ox’s face on the left. The ox is a beast of burden, willing to serve, work, and sacrifice for others.  This is the Lord’s Slave-Savior life in us, as seen in the book of Mark. The Lord Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve others by giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

“If as you are working in an office you are a proper man, you are as bold as a lion, and you are also faithful in bearing responsibility, you will make a good impression on others. In order to make such an impression, you need to behave not only like a man and like a lion but also like a serving, suffering ox. When the office needs to be cleaned, you should take the lead to clean, doing more than the other employees.” – Life Study of Ezekiel, p.54

Our living at work or school can itself be a gospel preaching if we would exhibit the faces of a man, of a lion, and of an ox.

Face of an Eagle – Throughout the Bible, the eagle signifies the soaring, transcendent, powerful divine life of God.

This fourth face, the face of an eagle, is hidden in the rear. In a sense the eagle’s face is a secret, a mystery to those around us. This was Paul’s secret of sufficiency in Philippians 4:11-12. Perhaps few people may know how we can overcome so many earthly frustrations. But the buoyancy and transcendence is not of ourselves; it is sourced in the hidden divine life within us.

“We need to be like an eagle, not allowing anything to hold us, to suppress us, or to depress us. This means that we should be able to overcome both persecution and praise…Whether we are persecuted or praised, we need to be able to fly away on eagles’ wings. We should be buoyant and transcendent.” – Life Study of Ezekiel, pp.54-55

The Lord was not suppressed by either persecution or praise. Although the Lord fed the great crowd in John 6, He immediately withdrew to a mountain alone when the people sought to exalt Him and make Him King. This was a manifestation of the face of an eagle, soaring above both tribulations and triumphs.

Summary – The four living creatures in Ezekiel express Christ in four aspects: as a man, as a lion, as an ox, and as an eagle.  Moreover, these four faces correspond to Christ portrayed in the Gospels: the Man-Savior in Luke, the King-Savior in Matthew, the Slave-Savior in Mark, and God the Savior in John. As the four living creatures, we can express Christ in His all-inclusiveness.

However, in practice, living out Christ in these four aspects is not trivial. Bearing these four faces is not an exercise of merely adapting our behavior to meet certain situations.  Rather, to express Christ in these aspects requires our cooperation to allow the cross to terminate everything we are, everything we have, everything we have attained, and everything we can do.  Only through these dealings, and by taking Christ as our life (Col. 3:4) can we become the corporate reproduction of Christ to express Him.

Lord Jesus, grant us Your expression at work and at school!  Give us the experiences we need to be genuinely human, bold as a lion, servile as an ox, and transcendent as an eagle!


23 thoughts on “Four Faces of Expressing Christ

  1. Amen! So refreshing and encouraging to see that the Lord Jesus can MAKE IT and we can experience Him as such a One! I enjoyed this article – I need to read it and pray over it again! It’s not “adapting to our situations” or simply “facing the new environment”, but rather living Christ by dying to ourselves and allowing Him as the genuine human being, the bold lion, the servile ox, and the transcendent eagle – to live in us!

  2. Really enjoyable message that we can express Christ in four faces. Practically, our living must be according to His life within as the all-inclusive One, allowing Him to terminate ourself on the cross so that we can express Him. How we need to be enlightened more and be brought into deeper vision of this message. Amen!

  3. Amen. I really praise the Lord for this refreshing and encouraging message! We really need His grace and mercy so we can have these four faces in our daily living in order to express Christ. We need to pray this again and again: “Lord, give us the experiences we need to be genuinely human, bold as a lion, servile as an ox, and transcendent as an eagle!”

  4. Amen! Praise the Lord for His timely Rhema! O how we need to and must enjoy and experience our Christ as the reality of the four living creatures! Our Christ as the genuine man, the bold and aggressive Lion of Judah, the servile ox representing the Slave – Saviour and the transcending and buoyant eagle! May Christ in these four aspects be wrought into us organically! AS the four living creatures, WE CAN EXPRESS CHRIST IN HIS ALL-INCLUSIVENESS!For this we need to utterly depend on the cross and His life!
    Hallelujah for the Lords speaking in His body!

  5. Zechariah 9:9
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

    Isaiah 42:1
    Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

    Zechariah 6:12
    And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD

    Isaiah 40:10
    Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

    Lion = King,
    Ox = Servant,
    Man = Man,
    Eagle = Deity

    Now let’s look at each gospels distinguishing traits.

    Matthew – symbol Lion
    1) Christ’s genealogy by succession showing his relation to Abraham and King David through 42 generations in Joseph’s line. Many of the names mentioned after King David were kings in Israel. (Ref. 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles
    2) Only gospel to mention Jesus born King of the Jews
    3) Only gospel to refer to Jesus as a Governor
    4) Only gospel that mentions “the kingdom of heaven” all other gospels refer to it as the kingdom of God.
    The book of Matthew emphasizes Jesus as a King.

    Mark – symbol Ox
    1) No genealogy or origin of Christ. Who cares about the genealogy of a servant?
    2) Only gospel that mentions Jesus as a carpenter (a service trade)
    The book of Mark emphasizes Jesus as a Servant.

    Luke – symbol Man
    1) Christ’s genealogy by nature from Mary to Adam showing Christ as part of the human race
    2) Only gospel Jesus himself says he was in temptation. Not of evil, but of trials to prove him. Ref. Heb. 2:18, 5:8
    3) More instances of Jesus teaching how to deal with temptation
    4) Only gospel Jesus says, “Men ought to always pray and not faint.” Why? Because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We must keep our focus on the Lord.
    The book of Luke emphasizes Jesus as a Man (weakness of flesh)

    John – symbol Eagle
    1) Introduces Jesus as the Word, God, and the Light (The three in one Godhead)
    2) Only gospel Jesus says, “I and my Father are one.”
    3) Only gospel Jesus says, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.”
    4) Only gospel that does not mention the temptation in the wilderness or Jesus’ teachings on temptation. Why? Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; and it is also written, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
    The book of John emphasizes Jesus as God Himself.

    The book of John is also the only gospel to mention feet washing to emphasize to us that nothing should be beneath us. The proper and true form of the necessary humility we must have to successfully perform God’s work. How can we obtain this humility? “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; you also ought (Opheilo – to owe, be bound, to be under obligation, a debtor) to wash (Nipto – to cleanse, only used of washing part of the body, literally) one another’s feet.” Not only that, but Jesus did not wash feet as a King, or as a Servant, or as a Man, but John who wrote about Him as God, it was God who washed feet; therefore, if it is made available to us to do so and we are physically and mentally able, there is no decision to make. It should be done.

  6. Praise the Lord that we can experience Christ as the face of an Man,Lion,OX and an Eagle to coordinate with the saints for the building up of his Body!

  7. Wow. thank you for posting this in a detailed way! Praise you lord.may i live with this face of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle!

  8. I was so blessed by this subject, I also study who we are in our money /wealth using this context, is thoroughly amazing, and God does give the good news to the poor Not to become wealthy none of the verses in the bible suggested that, But to be like the four of the faces above, to be like JESUS Praise the Lord


  10. Simply beautifully broken down and explained. I am forever changed by this teaching. Thank you for allowing Gods light to shine through you onto us. Blessed are you for sharing the Word!

  11. I am so grateful for this article. I searched for the topic and this was exactly what I needed. This is a ‘haunting’ in a mysterious GOOD and GODLY way to many things I have wondered about for many years. I am blessed to see that the author thought about this topic and prepared such a thorough piece. I read all the comments and I agree with them all. This is refreshing, practical, requires repentance and yet gives us a way forward to actually live and be more like JESUS. I plan on copying it and pasting it to a devotional.So helpful and God is using your work, Thank you.

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