Based on: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
We value our sight, don’t we? If you have ever stubbed your toe in the dark you value the ability to see clearly. If you put a blindfold over your eyes it suddenly becomes more difficult to do all those things you do every day without thinking. What if you were born with a blindfold on and never knew it could be removed? You wouldn’t even know there was a thing called sight. You wouldn’t know about all of the wonderful things there are to see. You wouldn’t know that anything was wrong. But if someone takes the blindfold off, you can see and you would know how different things really are.
The illustration is not that far fetched. We have all experienced living with a blindfold. Every one of us was born spiritually blindfolded. We could not see the spiritual truth, but God removed the blindfold and we can see clearly the glory of the gospel, our sins forgiven and our salvation.
The apostle Paul reminds us of Moses giving the law to the people. After meeting with God he was radiant with the light of God’s glory. The people were afraid and so Moses wore a veil so that the people could not see his face shine. Paul takes the picture of a veil that blocks vision and uses it in a spiritual sense. The veil covers the heart and prevents people from seeing what God tells them in his Word. It prevents them from seeing the glory of the gospel just like the veil Moses wore prevented the people from seeing his glory. It is just like the blindfold in the illustration earlier.
What is this veil or blindfold? Well, what is it that gets in the way of seeing the glory of the gospel? Let me answer that with another series of questions. What if you didn’t need your sins forgiven? What if you were doing OK as far as God was concerned? Would you need the gospel? Would the gospel seem like this completely wonderful thing that we know it is? Probably not.
Maybe you see where I am going with this. Even if you did need the forgiveness of the gospel but didn’t think you needed it, you wouldn’t think that Christ’s death for sins was all that wonderful. You would have a false perception of yourself. You think you are OK with God and that is the blindfold that keeps you from seeing how precious the gospel is.
Listen to this quote and tell me who you think said it. "I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them to have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man." Who do you think tried to help people and was punished for it? One of America’s greatest criminals, the gangster Al Capone! He had a spiritual blindfold on and couldn’t see what he was really like.
If you want a little more insight into the criminal mind, ask a prison warden. Lewis Lawes was the warden of the Sing Sing prison in NY state for more than 20 years. He had this to say about what criminals think of themselves, "Few of the criminals in Sing Sing regard themselves as bad men. They are just as human as you and I. So they rationalize, they explain. They can tell you why they had to crack a safe or be quick on the trigger finger. Most of them try by fallacious and illogical reasoning, to justify their antisocial acts even to themselves, consequently stoutly maintaining that they should never have been imprisoned at all."
They obviously don’t see clearly! They are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Those criminals make us look good, don’t they? We gladly stand next to them and say “I thank you God that I am not like them!”. . . . but we are like them. It is not just criminals who try to rationalize or explain away their sin, we do the same thing.
Have you ever been angry with someone and then justified your anger by focusing on how they made you angry? “It’s their fault I feel this way.” Or have you ever felt pride when someone else messes up? It makes you look good, doesn’t it? Have you been more willing to give criticism than to receive it. If you have then you are just as guilty as Al Capone, the prisoners of Sing Sing prison, and the self-righteous Pharisees of Paul’s time.
It is a problem for all of us. It is the very nature of sinful human beings to believe we are better than we really are – that our sins are not as bad as the sins of others, because “I have an excuse.” We have had that problem since our life began. We are so use to it that we go through life not even knowing this spiritual blindfold covers our eyes. Really, we couldn’t do anything about it even if we did.
The result of this blindfold is that we don’t see the truth – we are habitual, arrogant, dying sinners who are offensive to God. If we are blind to that fact then we are also blind to God’s solution. We are blind to the glory of Christ which is the gospel.
Through faith in Christ we see what we are and when we see the truth about ourselves, we see the dazzling radiance of Christ’s glory – we see the gospel. The blindfold of our own self-righteousness is removed. We see the glory Jesus revealed at the Mount of Transfiguration. As Moses and Elijah were talking about Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection they were talking about God’s glorious plan of salvation.
Do you understand why the gospel is glorious? You were a sinner, but the work of Jesus on Calvary, his death and resurrection, took away the guilt of your self-righteous attitude, the weak attempts to justify your sin. The gospel of Jesus Christ has turned you from sinner into just the opposite – perfectly holy in God’s sight. Anything that can do that is truly glorious.
Go back to my illustration at the beginning. What if you had a blindfold since birth and suddenly someone removed it? It might take some time to adjust, but can you imagine how you would grow to love the truth? The more you experienced the light of the sun and saw all the things you didn’t see before, the more you would love the one who removed the blindfold.
We have had a lot of gloomy days this winter, when the clouds are thick and the snow is blowing. You can barely see the sun on a day like that. Don’t you feel good when you wake up to find clear skies and a bright sun. A much greater joy comes when God removes your spiritual blindfold.
Then what happens when the blindfold is gone and you behold through the eyes of faith what Peter, James, and John saw with physical eyes on the mountain? You are being transformed into Christ’s likeness. As the glory of the gospel infects and affects you, you will radiate with the reflected glory of Christ, more and more as you come in contact with the gospel. We will not hide this glory as Moses did, but we will let others see. We want them to see the hope we have. We want God to remove the blindfold from in front of them. The blindfold that prevents them from seeing the truth and being saved.
For as long as we live on this earth, we will never completely get rid of the blindfold. It will always try to block our view of Christ’s glory. Through Word and Sacraments God removes the blindfold and we see clearly the glory of Christ and the glory of our salvation. May God use us to reveal that glory to others.