2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory…
I. THE IMAGE. We must lay Exodus 34:33, etc., alongside of this chapter. So the sight of Christ's glory does far more for us than the sight of God's glory did for Moses. The skin of his face was lighted up; but our very souls are changed into likeness to Christ; and this change does not soon pass away, but continues growing from glory to glory, as might be expected, seeing it is the Spirit of the Lord who works the change in us.
1. Christ, as we see Him in the New Testament, is the most perfect image in the world. Only a little of God's glory was revealed by Moses, but Christ is " God manifest in the flesh."(1) God is Light, i.e., that is holiness, and how plainly that glory is imaged in the sinless Jesus!
(2) God is Love, and that love is made perfectly plain by the life of Christ from the cradle to the cross. A poor African could not believe that the white man loved him. His heart was not won by cold far-off words about a far-off people. But love for the African became flesh in David Livingstone, and his life was a glass in which they saw the true image of Christian love.
2. This image is not like the image of the ascending Christ, which faded into heaven while the disciples gazed after it on the Mount of Olives. This is an unfading portrait. Age cannot dim it, earth's mildew cannot discolour it, man's rude hand cannot destroy it; it only grows brighter as it gathers fresh beauty from the blessed changes it is working in the world.
II. BEHOLDING OF THE IMAGE. I never saw the beauty of the sun so well as one day in a Highland lake, whose surface was like a mirror of polished glass. To see the naked sun face to face would have blinded me. When John saw Christ's glory directly, though ii was only in a vision, he fell down as a dead man, and the same glory blinded Saul of Tarsus. The Bible is a glass in which you may gaze without fear upon the glory of the Lord therein reflected, Moses was the one privileged man in his day. But now all Christians can draw as near to God as Moses did, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is this liberty, How can I rightly behold the glory of the Lord?
1. With an open or unveiled face, just as Moses took Off his veil when he turned to speak with Jehovah. A lady visiting a picture gallery on a wintry day shields her face from the biting blast with a thick veil; but, upon entering the gallery, she lifts up her veil that with open face she may fully behold the images created by sculptor and painter. Many veils hide Christ's glory. The god of this world is busy blinding our minds by drawing a veil of prejudice, false shame, ignorance of an earthly mind over them (2 Corinthians 4:4).
2. You are to behold the image in the glass of the Bible. A picture or statue often serves only to remind me that the man is dead or far away, not so the image of Christ in the Bible, Some images, however, fill us with a sense of reality. Raphael painted the Pope, and the Pope's secretary at first took the image for the living man, knelt and offered pen and ink to the portrait, with the request that the bill in his hand might be signed. The image we behold is drawn by the Divine hand, and should be to us a bright and present reality, 3, This beholding must be steady and life-long. Unless you look often at this image and love to do so, you will not get much good from Christ. Even man-made images impress only the steady beholders of them.
III. THE BEHOLDERS.
1. "They are changed into the same image." Some people think that the beholding of beautiful pictures must do great good to the beholders; but when Athens and Rome were crowned with the most splendid pictures and statues, the people were the most wicked the world has yet seen. But the right beholding of this image gains a life of the same make as Christ's. We become what we behold. Two boys had been poring over the life of Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard. In that glass they beheld the image of lawless adventurers. They admired: they would be bold heroes too. They are soon changed into the image they gaze upon from shame to shame, even as by the spirit of the devil. Here is a gentle, lovely girl. Her mother is to her the very model and mirror of womanly perfection. She gladly yields herself up to her mother's influence, and the neighbours say, "That girl is the living image of her mother"; for she receives what she admires, and silently grows like what she "likes" best. When some newspaper compared Dr. Judson to one of the apostles, he was distressed, and said, "I do not want to be like them. I want to be like Christ."
2. This change is to be always going forward from glory to glory.
3. Your beholding of Christ and likeness to Christ are both imperfect on earth. In heaven there shall be a perfect beholding, and so a perfect likeness to Christ (Psalm 17:15). There as here being and beholding go together. We see this change growing towards perfectness in the martyr Stephen as he stood on the borderland between earth and heaven. Even his foes "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."
4. Christ's people are to be changed so thoroughly into His image that they shall have a soul like His, and even a body like His. For "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
(J. Wells, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.