December 26, 2016
Unwrapping The Best Present
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We have given up fancy wrappings for Christmas presents! With six grandboys (ages two to ten) and two great grandchildren (ages five and newborn), wrapping paper on Christmas morning seems to fly in every direction – ripped to shreds! The kids are much more interested in what’s inside the wrapping (no matter how pretty the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons are) than what surrounds the gifts!
But when it comes to Unwrapping The Best Present, we need to carefully pay attention to all the beautiful layers surrounding that core Present. This is what our two featured Scriptures for today infer. And I will quote them in the order listed – II Corinthians 4:6 and 3:18:
For it is…God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has
shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ….But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as
in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same
image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The Best Present is, of course, Jesus Christ! And God, in all His magnificent fulness, is revealed in Him! (See John 14:9; Colossians 2:9). This is what Paul is saying in II Corinthians 4:6: “…the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ.” So if we are going to know God, then we must carefully examine the many layers of His Son!
This careful examination – and the process that will take place in us to transform us into His image as we examine Him – is what the II Corinthians 3:18 is all about. Let’s look closely at this verse as we are Unwrapping The Best Present – the Lord Jesus Christ!
• “But we all….” – When the apostle says we all, he is implying that the task of examining God’s gift to the world (see John 3:16), is not reserved for just a few Bible scholars! It is for everyone – as implied in II Timothy 2:15 (King James Version); and II Peter 3:18:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to
be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth….But grow in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All of us are given this challenge!
• “…with unveiled face…” is a reference to what Paul was referring in the verses just before II Corinthians 3:18. In verses 7 through 16, he is writing about the fading glory of the old Jewish covenant, and the permanent much greater glory of the new covenant in Christ! The example of the fading glory of the old is the way Moses’ face shown with the glory of God after he had spent time in Jehovah’s presence (see Exodus 33:29-35). But this reflected glory was not permanent! It faded as time went on!
Concerning us – those who live under the new covenant of Jesus Christ – it says in I Corinthians 3:13 (Contemporary English Version), “…Moses…covered…his face to keep the people of Israel from seeing the brightness fade away.” “But we all, with unveiled face…” refers to what Paul says in II Corinthians 3:17, “…when one turns to the Lord, the veil [of satanic-induced blindness to the things of God – see II Corinthians 4:4] is taken away.” Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, and have the Holy Spirit residing in us, we can then see spiritual things unhindered!
• “…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…” – The common mirror in Paul’s day was polished bronze. The reflection it gave was a bit hazy at best, and it would get scratched with use. It is by faith that we ‘see’ the Lord! (See Hebrews 11:1, 6). But our faith is a bit, or a whole lot, hazy – like viewing Jesus in a first century mirror. As we behold Him by faith, we “…are being transformed into that same image….” We become like what we focus upon! (See I John 3:2 for the end result “…when…we see Him as He is.”).
• But there is another dynamic at work here – the Holy Spirit! He permanently resides in every true believer (see Romans 8:11; II Corinthians 1:22; 6:19). And He takes the living written Word of God (see Hebrews 4:12), revealing the Word of God made flesh – Jesus – and uses that Word to make us into the image of Christ! I do not fully understand how that is done, but we “…behold…the glory of the Lord…” by faith, and our faith is made strong by the Word of God! (See Romans 10:17). So the more we read and study our Bibles, the more we will be “…transformed into that same image…” of the Son of God!
• It is a process! And that process is implied by the phrase, “…glory to glory….” Little by little, or glory to glory, we become like the One whom we are called to closely follow! It is especially this phrase that I would liken to Unwrapping The Best Present! As we peel off one layer of wrapping, we discover another deeper one. And as we examine each ‘layer’ of God revealed in Jesus Christ, we become more and more like Him!
So be about the task of Unwrapping The Best Present – the Lord Jesus! And don’t apply this challenge to just this Christmas season! Continue it all year long – and all the years God allots you after that!