Big Idea: Our weakness is overruled by the glory of Christ.
Have you ever run a magnet over a paperclip? With a little bit of patience, you can turn the paperclip into a magnet itself. It only lasts a little while, but it makes a neat trick. For a more mundane example, leave a metal spoon in a hot pot for a while and then try to pick it up. Exposure to something hot makes the spoon hot. Exposure to a magnet makes the paperclip magnetic. If things like that are true in the physical world, what should we expect will happen to us when we have been in the presence of the Living God? Second Corinthians 3 reminds us of an Old Testament story (Exodus 33:34-35) where Moses climbed Mount Sinai and received the Law from God. But when he did so, he was changed. From being in the brightness of God, Moses’ face glowed when he returned to the people. It frightened them, so he covered his face with a veil when he spoke to them.
Paul finds a perfect picture of frailty here. The people could not bear even the reflected glory of God that came on Moses’ face when he received a Law destined to pass away. If the Ten Commandments, that because of human weakness brought only death and were sure to be replaced, were accompanied with such glory, how much more glory would the New Covenant bring? The Old Testament Law was not bad, but human beings could never keep it, so it was fading from the moment it arrived. When we come to Christ, it is by recognizing that we can never keep the Law. Our own weakness and sinfulness is confessed before God, Who heals us.
In Christ, we behold God fully. Not through a veil but made clear. Like Moses, when that happens, we are sure to be changed. Our weakness is made irrelevant. A paper clip is not a very good magnet and a spoon is quick to cool, but as long as it dwells in the source of its power, it remains transformed. When we become Christians, God comes to live inside of us – forever! Our weakness is transcended by His strength. In comparison, a literally glowing face on a physical fiery mountain (2 Corinthians 3:11) has no glory at all.
How foolish, then, when we try and make our own power. We try through hard work, determination, or reformed thought to make ourselves into what we ought to be. The stronger we try to become the weaker we are. But if you and I could see that we are nothing without Jesus, like a branch cut off the vine to wither, we could rest in Him and let His power be displayed in and through us.
Discussion Idea: Why do you think the Israelites were afraid to look at Moses? Could that have any connection to our own reluctance to dwell in Christ?
Prayer Focus: Thank God that you have access to Him, that one day you will see Him fully, and ask Him to help you see Him more clearly even now.