The Big Unveiling
A sermon based on 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Sunday, February 7, 2016 – Transfiguration Sunday
There was no mistake that this was the biggest present he'd ever received from his parents. He saw it sitting in the driveway. But what kind of car was it? He couldn't tell because of the drop cloth that covered it entirely. He couldn't even see the bottom of the tires. He couldn't wait to see it. But his uncle had helped his parents pay for it and he wanted to see his nephew's reaction, so his parents said he had to wait for him to arrive.
Finally, his uncle pulled up to the curb and it was time for the big unveiling! He grabbed a corner of the drop cloth and gave it one quick, hard, tug! And for the first time he saw his brand new car! What an exciting day it was! What a happy 16th birthday!
For the last couple of weeks, we've been getting glimpses of Jesus glory—at his baptism, at the wedding in Cana, as the prophet who fulfills prophecy, as the epitome of love. But this morning we heard the account of his transfiguration, when he let his glory shine through most clearly, when the veil that hid it was briefly removed; ripped away for the big unveiling.
And in that glimpse of his glory, we rejoice that Jesus' glory is unveiled to us. And in thanks for that wonderful revelation, we are now eager to let Jesus' glory be unveiled through us. Our text for this morning, this Transfiguration Sunday, is taken from 2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2…
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
4:1 Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
I. Jesus Glory is Unveiled to Us
Perhaps instead of covering the car, the parents of that 16-year-old in our introduction could have saved a little money and used a lot less cloth if they had just blindfolded their son. Then they could just pull the blindfold off to reveal the car instead of pull an entire drop cloth off of the car.
In a sense, that's the way Paul describes each person by nature. They're blindfolded. They can't see the truth of the Gospel. It's foolishness. It's offensive. And by nature, every person is blind to the truths of the Gospel. We were blind. But we weren't blind in our eyes, but in our minds. They were made dull. We were blind in our hearts, covered by a veil—by a blindfold that kept us in unbelief.
Some people read the Bible and never understand it. Some think that Jesus was a great teacher who taught us how to live to earn favor with God. Others read of Jesus' resurrection and say that he lives on, but only in our thoughts and in our and hearts. Others read Jesus' saying, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," and respond, "This cannot be." Some read the Bible and see great literature, but miss the plan of salvation. Some read the Bible and see myths and fairy tales. Everyone, on their own, thinks that they can or must do something to earn God's favor. They all read the same Bible, but without the Holy Spirit, they're in the dark. They just don't get it. It's like trying to drive a car with a blindfold on. And you know how well that would end—in death.
But that's not the way we are anymore. "In Christ [it is] taken away… Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." You and I have seen the full glory of the Lord! Not just the glory of his miracles, for those were only temporary. The people he miraculously fed were hungry again. The people he raised to life died again. We have seen the full glory of the Lord! Not just the glory of transfiguration when he shined like the sun on the mountain. For that glory soon faded. But we have seen his full glory—the glory of the cross! We have seen how he lived a perfect life in our place! We have seen how he suffered hell on the cross to pay for our sin! We have seen how he rose again to give us the proof that we are right with God! The veil has been lifted for us! The drop cloth has been torn away! The blindfold has been removed! We have seen the full glory of God!
…You know, our nation no longer faces the problem of a large percentage of our citizens being illiterate. Now, through our education system, almost everyone knows how to read. But we have a high percentage of alliterate people. That is, people know how to read, but they don't! Very few Americans read more than 5 books a year. I hope that you're not in that category. You have had the blindfold removed. You know what the Bible is all about. You know that it's all about Jesus. But that knowledge doesn't do you much good if you don't read the Bible regularly.
Can you imagine if Bartemaus, the blind man whose sight Jesus restored, were to say to Jesus, "Thanks, Jesus. I really appreciate what you did, but… you know, all this 'seeing' is pretty crazy. I think I'm just going to go back to not seeing and walk around with my eyes shut all the time. Thanks though for the thought. I appreciate it."
Don't be like that! God has given you spiritual sight to see how all of your sins are forgiven by Jesus! He has given you eyes to see how you are at peace with God! Now use your spiritual sight to keep looking at all the wonderful things God has done for you! Enjoy your new spiritual sight as you look into his word to find Jesus in every book of the Bible! The blindfold has been lifted. The veil has been removed!
Now keep looking into his Word where you see how you've been forgiven even for neglecting your spiritual sight! Look into his Word through which the Holy Spirit will continue to work in you! And as you do, you will find freedom! For, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." There you will find freedom from sin, freedom from fear, and freedom from the selfishness that would otherwise take over our lives! There—in the Gospel and the forgiveness that Jesus won for us—we find freedom to serve God in thanks as we reflect the glory that he has shown to us…
II. Jesus Glory is Unveiled Through Us
Moses was kind of like a glow-in-the-dark star. When he saw the glory of God, he sort of absorbed it a bit. Then when he came down from the mountain, he would reflect some of that glory, emanating from his own face. He was too bright to look at, so rather than have every Israelite buy a pair of dark sunglasses, Moses wore a veil that kept the glory hidden—sort of like a welding helmet, but in reverse.
Well, in a certain way, we're like that too. We have seen the glory of God in Christ—in the forgiveness that he won for us. And now, we're a lot like the moon: We reflect the light of the Son! My goal is no longer to bring glory to myself as it once was, but my new goal is to bring glory to the One who saved me. My goal is to do all I can to reflect his glory—the glory of the cross—to others.
Paul put it this way: "We… with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory…" And how does this happen? "By setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
We are very much like the moon. We reflect the Son. The glory isn't ours. It's his. But we reflect it in our lives to others. As the moon gives light to the earth when you can't see the sun, so too when others can't see the Son of God because their hearts and minds are veiled, they can still see us as we reflect his love and remove the veil for others!
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
So let your light shine, dear brothers and sisters! Actively look for ways to serve others. Look for opportunities to serve your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, and your friends. Do not just what's expected of you in your position, but surprise others by your willingness to go above and beyond. Surprise your spouse. Surprise your kids. Surprise your parents. Surprise your boss. Surprise your employees. Surprise the stranger you meet at the store by how thoughtful and loving and kind you are! And as you do, you'll be reflecting the glory of Jesus. You'll shine brighter and brighter with his love.
And as you do that, you'll find more opportunities to share Jesus' love and the full glory of his redemption won at the cross with others. You'll be able to pull of the blindfold and lift the veil for them. You'll be able to set forth the truth plainly that they too might see.
The drop cloth has been ripped off for us. The blind fold has been removed. Jesus has been unveiled to us. Now, Jesus is unveiled through us as we let our light shine before others that they may see our good works, as we share the message of his love and grace. Now, with the freedom that only the Gospel of Jesus can give, shine on, dear friends, shine on! In Jesus' name, amen!