Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 30 2013 - 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 – Seen the light?

The gospel is all about the glory of Christ who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. He is God manifest in the flesh, yet is also the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the Lamb of God and he is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is Emmanuel. He is Lord. This, and so much more, is the glory of Christ – the Christ who came to fulfil all that was promised in the Scriptures.

Yet many see nothing of this glory. To the Jews he was a charlatan and a danger to the people. To many of the sophisticates of the first century Mediterranean world the message of the incarnate God and risen Saviour was pure folly. To many today, Jesus remains a wise teacher, to be ranked along with Socrates and Confucius – a wise teacher who has been misunderstood and deified by his followers. But these have not seen what Paul had seen. On the Damascus road he saw the glory of Christ, and in a blinding flash he knew that he had been brought face-to-face with the Christ of God.

Paul’s experience was, of course, unique to him. Yet there is a sense, says Paul, in which it is the common experience of every Christian. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul speaks in the plural, including the Christians in Corinth when he writes, “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.” This, says Paul, is what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is one who has seen the glory of Christ. A Christian is one who has been brought to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. This light which struck Paul to the ground on the Damascus road has dawned in the hearts of all who truly belong to Christ. We have seen the light. We have been brought face-to-face with God through Jesus Christ.

And all of this is not our own doing, any more than Paul came to the conviction that Jesus is the Christ by his own reasoning. We came to know God by his own creative act. It is the work of God who brought light out of darkness at the dawn of creation. He has brought us from darkness into light. It is the work of his Spirit. To be sure, our experiences vary widely one from another. Some may be able to name the day and hour – even the minute – when the light dawned. For others it was a prolonged process through which they were drawn to Christ. Some may not be able to remember a time when they did not know him. But for all of us who know him it is because God has graciously made himself known to us; he has shown us the glory of Christ and has brought us to bow before him and to own that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This was the confidence that undergirded Paul in his ministry; what God had done for him he could and would do for others. But Paul does not preach his own experience, he preaches Christ (4:5). Paul is aware of his own frailty, but he knows that in Christ he possesses an immense treasure (4:7), a treasure he is eager that others might also possess. So he tells them of Jesus Christ, crucified, raised from the dead and exalted as Lord. And as he does so, “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” shines into the hearts of many of his hearers. They too see the light.

Father God, you have filled these cracked pots with a glorious treasure – the treasures of your grace and glory in the Lord Jesus. May his glory shine out from our lives that others also may see the light and be drawn to him.

Peter Misselbrook