Weekly Meditation: 7th February 2016
Sunday before Lent
2nd Corinthians 3:12- 4:2
In the children’s story “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C S Lewis, the point is made early on in the account, that Aslan – the lion who represents the Lord Jesus – is “not a tame lion”. When one of the children asks “Is he safe?”, the answer is “Of course he’s not safe … but he’s good”.
In the lectionary readings today, we meet with a God who is not at all safe, but who is undoubtedly good. Psalm 99 reveals God causing the nations to tremble and the earth to shake (1). His name is “great and awesome” (2) and we are drawn to “worship at his footstool [for] he is holy” (3-5). He allowed Israel to suffer for their misdeeds, but he is forgiving, concerned for them, answering their call (6-8).
Moses encountered the full awe and majesty of God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:4-7) so that when he descended “his face was radiant” (29). The people were so afraid, that Moses had to veil his face (33-35) to conceal God’s reflected glory. It was this same reflected glory that Moses and Elijah displayed when they “appeared in glorious splendour” (Luke 9:28-31) on the occasion of Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus also revealed a shining countenance and “his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” (29) but his glory was not a mere reflection, it was his own.
The purpose of this other-worldly experience was to further commission Jesus for the redeeming work ahead and to strengthen him for the task. Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets, all of which Jesus was to fulfil. Through both Moses and Elijah, God had performed great acts of deliverance – from bondage in Egypt (Exodus 12:29-42) and from idolatry (18:16-46). Jesus, however, was to bring about an even greater deliverance – that of the whole of humankind from bondage to sin and death.
The apostle Paul wrote eloquently about our deliverance in his second letter to the Corinthian church. He contrasts it with the Law – “the ministry that brought death … the ministry that condemns men” – and names it as “the ministry of the Spirit … that brings righteousness” (3:7-9). Even the giving of the Law was attended by glory, so that Moses’ face shone. But the bringing about of salvation through our eternal Saviour is of much greater glory.
Moses wore a veil to shield the people who could not look upon God’s glory. But in Christ, the veil is taken away because – being made perfect through the redeeming blood of Jesus – we dare to enter God’s presence and gaze on his face; “we are very bold” (12).
By his work of deliverance, Jesus set us free so that we can “reflect the Lord’s glory” and be “transformed into his likeness” (18).
“Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place”
Singing the Faith 503
By Susan Thorne