2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In certain movies, it is fairly easy to figure out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys. Many times the bad guys are dressed in black, sinister looking, and even grotesque. In “The Lord of the Rings” you have Sauron, Saurumon, Orcs, Orikai, and the Bellrog, It is fairly easy to see which team they are playing for.
Or think of the “Star Wars” movies. Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and the Emperor. All dressed in black. All very sinister looking. And all very powerful and evil.
You can even throw Disney movies into the mix. Ursula, the sea witch in “The Little Mermaid.” The queen/witch in “Snow White.” Scar in “The Lion King.” Medusa in “101 Dalmatians.” Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty.” All of them have some kind of black clothing or black hair. That blackness is an easy way to represent darkness and evil.
But that’s just the movies. It isn’t quite so easy to pick out the bad guys or to find the evil lurking in the real world. Evil that is caused by “the god of this age,” “the Prince of Darkness,” Satan. Today, we learn to combat the evil of this age and shine light in the darkness of our world. We let God speak to us and hear Hhim say, “Let light shine out of darkness.”
Have you noticed that our society is willing to discuss and allow just about anything, as long as God is removed from the discussion. Our judges want to allow for same-sex marriages. People don’t want God mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance. We accept the lies and lack of morals from our political leaders as long as the economy is doing fine. Movies that promote sexual filth like “50 Shades of Grey” will be blockbusters, while Christian themed movies are passed over by the viewing public.
Christians are not isolated from this. Not by a long shot. You and I are willing to talk with our friends and co-workers about the weather and sports, but we are afraid to mention the name of Jesus. We are willing to talk about people behind their backs, but unwilling to personally confront them with their sins. We will spend hours reading novels and watching reality TV shows, but are unwilling to take the same amount of time to read God’s truth in our Bibles.
Where do these lies come from? Why does this kind of thinking pervade our society? Why are even dedicated Christians like us willing to speak of myths, but afraid to speak the truth about Jesus? The devil works very hard to keep us in the dark – to not speak about the light of Christ. He works at throwing a veil over the eyes of this world, so people cannot see the truth of the Gospel and perish in hell. Paul says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The devil holds the veil over the hearts of people so that they cannot see the light. What is the light? It is the Gospel – the message about the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. God’s greatest glory is to be seen in Christ, who is God in human flesh, the image of God.
On Mt. Sinai, Moses saw the glory of God as the giver of the old covenant. In Christ, believers see the even greater glory of God as the author and fulfiller of the new covenant. That, of course, the devil wants no one to see. And in many cases he is successful in keeping the veil firmly in place so that the light, which is the glory of Christ, does not penetrate. We are living in a time that Paul mentions to Timothy: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
How are we able to combat the darkness that the god of this age brings into our world? With the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” We preach Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Far greater than any miracles Jesus performed was the invisible miracle of who He was. He wasn’t some great example that we should follow. He wasn’t a lunatic who believed He was God. He wasn’t a martyr who died for His cause. He was who He said He was. He was the Son of God in human flesh. His Father tells us that we should listen to Him. Jesus wasn’t shining in His glory on that mountain so that He looked good in front of His disciples. His miraculous transfiguration was a powerful display of His glory – to prove to them who He really was. It was a glorious display that He had the power and the authority to rescue people from sin, death, and the god of this age. Though many who had followed Jesus or had been healed by Him missed that point, these disciples didn’t. They didn’t want to come down off the mountain. It was good for them to be there. See what this heavenly Friend did for them. He strengthened their faith. He became closer and dearer to them, more precious and glorious than ever before.
Do we want faith and friendship with Jesus strengthened? There is a way, one that the world despises and that even some lukewarm friends of Jesus at times disregard. As we hear His Holy Word in worship and read it at home, Jesus sends the Spirit to renew our faith. As we receive the Lord’s Supper at Christ’s altar, God refreshes our hearts. Through the miracle of Holy Baptism, the Lord makes and then reminds us of His promise that we are His and He is ours forever.
These are the ways to combat the evils of this world. The way to put an end to abortion is not to make it illegal, but to change the hearts of young mothers with the love of Jesus Christ. The way to get drugs and gangs off of our streets is to build our families upon the foundation of Christ and His Word. The way to change society is to speak out against the ills and sins that have been permitted for so long and then to offer the solution that is only found in God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you go to the country of Turkey and visit Cappadocia, the guide will show you underground cities where Christians went to escape persecution. It is a place both frightening and impressive.
Still, most Christians, when they were able, always returned to the light. It is a quality which made them quite unlike the followers of 83-year-old Fayzrahman Satarov. Mr. Satarov was a leader of a Muslim sect in Russia’s province of Tatarstan.
Mr. Satarov claimed to be both a prophet and a person who would someday direct a caliphate. Those assertions, and the fact that he refused to acknowledge his country’s authority, did not endear him to official and religious leaders. Still, what was most intriguing about Mr. Satarov is that he had his followers living underground.
When I say “underground,” I mean underground. That’s underground 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. There were children in this sect, some as old as seventeen, who had never seen the sun.
Did you catch that? Many of the children had never seen the sun.
That changed in the fall of 2012, when the Russian authorities raided Satarov’s underground compound. They brought those children into the light for the first time.
Can you imagine what those children thought? What they felt? They were in the sun, free to experience the colors, the glories of nature, the passing of the clouds, the bits and pieces of life which we all take for granted. Those children had to be overwhelmed by the glory of it all.
The only thing which would be more overwhelming is to be a person who has been wandering around in spiritual darkness and then, by the Holy Spirit’s power, is brought into the light which comes through the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. They were blinded by the god of this present age, but then through Word and Sacrament, they saw the Lord standing in all His glory on the mountain.
What a transformation! What a transfiguration!
By God’s grace a condemned sinner has been made a converted saint. By the Lord's action we who were doomed and damned are rescued and restored to the family of faith. Through God’s love we are forgiven of our sins and free to live a life of praise to our great and wonderful Lord.
Someone shined the light of Christ directly into our eyes, piercing the darkness of our souls. Now God wants you to shine that same life-giving light into the hearts and minds and souls of others. How did Paul say it? “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Just as in creation God called light out of darkness by His Word, so He makes light shine into the hearts of lost sinners by His Word. He doesn’t say, “Let there be faith.” Rather, He says, “Your sins are forgiven.”
This is the same Word we are to share with others. Let your light shine. Let your faith be evident. Let your mouth open to tell others that their sins are forgiven by Jesus, too.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The light no darkness can overcome. Not in a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, not as a reflection in the face of Moses, but in the face of Jesus Christ we get to know God’s glory. In Christ, the Lord’s face shines on us, looks upon us with favor. To people who are stumbling in darkness, groping blindly and falling to eternal death comes One who shows us the undeserved and unfailing love of God.
We might be able to pick out the bad guys in the movies. It is much more difficult to find the god of the age lurking in the darkness of our society. Praise God that Jesus shines the light of His glory into our sin-darkened world. He is the eternal good guy. He is the light of the world. The light no darkness can overcome. Let us look for ways to share this light with the world. Amen.
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Amen. (Matthew 4:16)