Read This Page in My Language
Sermon: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Transfiguration – March 3, 2019 – Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
There’s a TV commercial for a popular hotel chain in which a group of men and women are sitting around a table in a board room trying to come up with ways to advertise their hotel. One man suggests that they create a commercial in which the hotel guests all glow or have an aura around them. His thought is that potential hotel guests would want to glow also and therefore would want to stay at their hotel. The executive of this advertising group responds with a grimace on his face and says, “Who glows? Just say, ‘Badda book, badda boom.” And one up and coming employee wanting to impress that executive agrees and says, “Nobody glows.”
And he of course is right. Nobody glows. Human beings don’t glow. Our bodies don’t literally shine. I can only think of one exception and that was Moses. When he came down from Mt. Sinai, having been in the glorious presence of the LORD, he literally and miraculously glowed with the glory of God, but temporarily.
Some of you might say that Jesus is another exception. On this Transfiguration Sunday our gospel reading tells us that Jesus literally shined with the glory of God. But Jesus was more than just a human being. He was the glorious Son of God. Moses’ shining glory was given to him from God. Jesus’ shining glory was his own.
In our text today the Apostle Paul says that the light of God, the glory of God, shines from us. It doesn’t literally shine from us like it did from Jesus. Nobody glows. But Paul still wants us to understand that the glory of God is to shine from us in our words and actions.
On this Transfiguration Sunday we consider
NOBODY GLOWS . . . BUT WE CAN SHINE LIKE JESUS
In this 2nd letter to the Corinthians Paul makes reference to our Old Testament reading in which Moses put a veil over his face when he finished speaking the law of God to the people. Moses had been at the top of Mt. Sinai and received a portion of God’s law directly from him. When he came down the mountain to deliver that law to the people his face was still shining with God’s glory. Moses spoke the law of God to the people with his face glowing, but then he would finish, and the glory would begin to diminish from his face. So he would put a veil over his face so the people would not see the glory fading away.
Nobody glows, so it’s rather obvious that Moses’ glowing face was a miracle of God. This whole matter of Moses’ glowing face and the fading glory was actually an object lesson from God for the people of Israel. First of all he was teaching the people that Moses had actually been in the presence of the LORD God and received the law from him. But second the LORD was teaching the people that the law of God was not God’s final message to the people. After the law there was another message to come from God. It was the gospel message of forgiveness and salvation. It was far more glorious than the commands and laws of God, and its glory would never fade away.
In this 2nd letter to the Corinthians Paul explains we now preach that gospel message of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus’ name with unveiled faces, without hesitation, boldly reflecting the perfect and unending glory of God. The gospel message is unending. Its glory never fades.
Have you ever wondered why people don’t believe the gospel, why people don’t believe in Jesus? Paul is implying that the gospel message is so wonderful, so glorious, so forgiving, so certain that no one should reject it. And he’s right. Think about it. The gospel message is meant for everyone. The gospel message says God loves you with an everlasting love. God loved you so much that he sent his own Son Jesus to die on a cross to atone for your sins. Just believe that truth and forgiveness and eternal salvation are yours. And yet we know that the vast majority of the people in the world don’t believe in Jesus. And many who say they believe don’t seem to care very much. They definitely don’t glow with the glory of God and love of Jesus.
And Paul has to sadly acknowledge that fact. He writes, “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Figuratively speaking, the veil that covered Moses’ face is still preventing people from seeing the greater glory of the gospel. In Paul’s day he said that most of his fellow Jews were still staring into Moses’ veiled face trying to see the law, trying to please God by commandments and laws. They stare so intently into Moses’ veiled face that they completely miss the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
But Paul’s fellow Jews are no different than most people in the world. The god of this age has blinded them too so they can’t see through the veil of the law to the glory of the gospel. They are still looking to laws and commandments to keep in order to satisfy God and earn his approval.
The god of this age has blinded them. Satan has blinded them. It’s interesting that Paul calls Satan the god of this age. In a kind of perverted sense Satan is the god of this age, the god of this sinful world. For now God allows the devil a certain amount of room to roam in this world, and he destroys as many people as he can. He tricked Adam and Eve. He has tempted and led astray generations of people. And worst of all he prevents them from seeing the eternal glory of the gospel. Every day the events of our lives, the events of the world we see on TV and social media, are evidence of a world that’s blind with sin and unbelief and has failed to see the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel.
And you and I would all be blind with unbelief if it were not for the mercy of God. Paul writes, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That you and I believe in Jesus, that you and I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, that you and I can see the glory of the gospel is a miracle of God’s mercy and grace. It’s as much a miracle as God creating light in the very beginning. The same gracious and almighty God who said, “Let there be light,” is the same gracious and almighty Lord and God who has turned on the light of faith in our heart so that we see Jesus our Savior. God has taken away the veil of Moses to see the unending glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what does that mean for you and me? It means that we believe that Jesus is the holy Son of God. It means that we believe Jesus died for our sins. It means that we believe that Jesus rose again from the dead. It means that our sins are all forgiven. It means that eternal life is ours. It means that we believe what the vast majority of the world does not believe.
Most of our world is not going to take note of this coming Wednesday. But on the church calendar it’s Ash Wednesday. Many will acknowledge the day, but they won’t do anything about it. Let’s you and I do something about it. We can come to worship to begin the season of Lent, the season in which we focus our attention on what Jesus did to save us from our sins.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. The gospel for this day helps us remember that time when Jesus, with three of his disciples, on the top of a mountain began to shine with his glory. Those disciples, and we through their witness, have seen the glory of God shining from the face of Jesus Christ. And it’s very fitting that we read this gospel about Jesus as we are about to begin Lent. We get to see Jesus as the glowing, shining, glorious Son of God one last time before he descends the mountain to climb yet another mountain, Mt. Calvary, where he will die on a cross to atone for our sins.
The message of Transfiguration teaches us also to look beyond Lent, beyond crucifixion and death, to the resurrection of Jesus. There we see Jesus once again shining in the glory of heaven. And Paul is telling us in this text to shine like Jesus did on the mountain. Shine like the risen Jesus shines in the glory of heaven. He says that God has “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
There were only five men who saw Jesus shining in glory on the Mt. of Transfiguration, the disciples Peter, James, and John and the prophets Moses and Elijah. But Paul is saying by faith we have seen Jesus shining in glory too. The light of the gospel shines in our heart by faith so by faith we have the knowledge of the glory of God as it shines from Jesus’ face. That means we know that Jesus is the glorious Son of God. It means we can visualize in our own minds Jesus shining in glory.
And that glory of Jesus that shines on us is to also shine from us to others. Nobody glows as the young man in the commercial said. And he’s right. We’re not going to literally glow like Jesus did. But we can still shine with the glory of Jesus. We shine with the glory of Jesus when we think like Jesus. We shine with the glory of Jesus when we speak like Jesus. We shine with the glory of Jesus when we act like Jesus.
We represent Jesus in this world. We speak for Jesus. We act for Jesus. So do you speak like Jesus and for Jesus? Do you act like Jesus and for Jesus? Learn to know Jesus better by hearing his word. Read the gospels and see how Jesus thought, how he spoke, and how he acted. That’s how you learn to shine with the glory of Jesus in this world and on those around you.
Don’t look for the light to glow from your body. Nobody glows. But we can shine. We can shine with glory of Jesus. Amen.