Summary: We Have Seen His Glory 1) It shines forth in truth and grace 2) It shines forth in us
Wouldn’t you like to have been on that mountain? On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus turned as bright as the sun and his clothes flashed like lightning. Wouldn’t you like to have seen that? When the other disciples heard what Peter, James, and John had witnessed they must have felt like we do when someone tells us about an awesome northern lights display we missed. At least if you miss the northern lights, chances are you’ll still see pictures of the display in the paper the next morning. The same can’t be said of God’s glory though can it? No camera recorded the events on the Mount of Transfiguration. Nor was there a video crew capturing the time Moses spent enveloped in the consuming-fire-like glory of God on Mt. Sinai hundreds of years earlier. You know, as a 21st century Christian I feel a little cheated. God’s glory seems to make regular appearances to the people of the Bible but not to us. Oh, but that’s not true, says the Apostle Paul in our text this morning. He insists that we have seen God’s glory. Where? Let’s find out.
It’s understandable if you think Paul must be joking when he says that we have seen God’s glory. I dare say that when you return home from a Sunday service you don’t feel as if you’ve witnessed anything glorious. No angels led the singing. No fireworks accompanied the pastor’s sermon. “Boring.” You may have even used that word to describe your worship and your faith. According to our Old Testament lesson, however, “boring” is not the word that would have come to the minds of those under the leadership of Moses. Whether Moses went for a hike up Mt. Sinai or for a stroll into the backroom of the tabernacle it ended in a gust of glory. God’s presence was manifested with such intensity that Moses’ own countenance started pulsating with this glory - so much so that when his brother Aaron and the other leaders saw Moses they ran away in fear (Exodus 34:29 ff.).
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about Lord. Give me some of that glory so that when people walk through these doors they’re wowed by your brilliance, not simply amused by the sheen reflecting off my chrome dome. I do have thoughts like that from time to time but today the Apostle Paul sets me straight. He makes it clear that Moses’ ministry, as glorious as it was, doesn’t compare to the ministry of New Testament heralds. Paul put it this way in the verses leading up to our text: “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)
How can Paul say that our ministry is more glorious than Moses’ ministry? Maybe this will help. The last time I went to see a movie I was fifteen minutes late…on purpose. They may say that your movie starts at three but what will really start then are twenty minutes of previews. I don’t go to the movies to watch previews, do you? The reason the ministry of New Testament heralds is more glorious than Moses’ ministry is because Moses could only offer his people previews of what Jesus would come to do to save us. And what do you see in a movie preview? You see the problem, a scary scene followed by a hint of the solution. How unsatisfying! In the same way Moses was able to easily show his people that they had a problem with God, the problem of sin. That was pounded into their head every time an animal was sacrificed. The knife slitting the throat of that hapless lamb should have been severing the artery of the person bringing the offering. That’s what we deserve for our selfishness, our false humility, and our lack of eagerness for God’s honor. But there was hope for the Israelite. For the time being God accepted the animal for human sin. But this was only a preview. It was only a hint of the real solution found in God’s lamb, Jesus who positioned himself in the crosshairs of Calvary to take the impact of God’s wrath over our willing treachery with Satan. We have the full record of what Jesus did for us. Moses’ people could only watch previews for hundreds of years.