Summary: This text helps us understand why the real meaning of Christmas still escapes so many people today.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:3-6 [CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT SERVICE]
THE LIGHT OF GOD'S GLORY
During the Christmas season of 1879, an agnostic REPORTER in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of them was blind. He heard the other two describing the toys to their friend. He had never considered how difficult it was to explain to someone without sight what something looks like. That incident became the basis for a newspaper story.
Two weeks later that same reporter attended a meeting held by Dwight L. Moody. His purpose was to catch the evangelist in an inconsistency. He was surprised when Moody used his account of the children trying to explain the toy to their blind to illustrate a truth. "Just as the blind girl couldn't visualize the toys," said Moody, "so an unsaved person can't see Christ in all His glory."
On that first Christmas, only a few people understood who Jesus really was. Many heard the report of the shepherds and were amazed, but they didn't view the baby in the manger as the Son of God. Our text tonight will help us understand why the real meaning of Christmas still escapes so many people today. The main reason the meaning of Christmas escapes us is because we have...
I. BLINDED MINDS, 3-4.
Verse 3 analysis why the gospel story doesn't change lives as it has the power to do (Rom. 1:16) to do. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,"
Now this "gospel" for which we claim so unique a power has been ineffective in the case of the majority of those to whom hear it. Large numbers failed to perceive the gospel's heavenly glory even though the Apostle Paul proclaimed it so enthusiastically. The fault, however is not in the gospel or with its preaching but in those who have failed to discern its glory. It is not because gospel revelation is obscure and difficult to grasp, but because people preferred to be blinded by sin, self, and Satan.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness to him." Yielding to the Holy Spirit must occur if comprehension is to occur.
Since the time of Adam & Eve the devil has used sin to place a veil over man's understanding (v. 3) so that people experience spiritual blindness. This is why the Holy Spirit is so important to the work of sharing the gospel, for only He can lift the veil and open our spiritual eyes. [Chafin, Kenneth; Ogilvie, Lloyd: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 30: 1, 2 Corinthians. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985, S. 224]
Verse 4 indicates that it is the devil who blinds minds to the gospel message. "in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
There is another power at work upon natural man. We don't see spiritual reality because Satan so effectively dominates our thinking that he blinds us from the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.
"The god of this age" is the devil (Jn. 12:31, 16:11, 14:30), whose activity is characterized by "hidden things of shame," "craftiness," deceitfulness (v. 2), and by blinding people's minds from the light of the gospel. When by unbelief one turns from the One True God that person has turn to the dark side and submitted their mind to the Satanic blinding.
In contrast, Christ is the very "image" [Gk. eikôgn] of God. The idea is exact representation and manifestation. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:19, 1:18). Christ is the invisible God made visible, sent to shine God's truth into the minds of men (Col. 1:15). Christ, the Light of the World, is the visible image of God.
Walter B. Hinson told the story of a friend of his who worked as an EYE SPECIALIST. One day Hinson stopped by his office and found the optometrist exuberant. When the preacher asked him why he was so happy, the doctor answered, "did you meet an elderly man as you came into my office? He has not seen a flower nor the faces of his children for a long, long time. He lives out in the country, but a few months ago he came to town to seek my advice. After I examined him, I told him I thought his sight could be restored. Today I performed the final operation on his eyes. When I was done, I took him outside and showed him the glory of the morning. I restored his vision!" What a privilege for that doctor to be able to bring sight to blind eyes!