Paul in his letter to the Corinthians has been contrasting the gospel of Jesus with the law of Moses. When Moses spent time with God, his face shone; the Israelites were afraid, so Moses covered himself with a veil - but not until after he'd passed on to them any laws God had given in the meeting (Exodus 34:29-35). Paul takes that as indicating that the glow faded, to be rekindled at every meeting with God; he sees this as symbolising the fading nature of the old covenant ministry (see v 11), and sees the veil as symbolising the barrier which prevents people seeing God's glory. Through Jesus that barrier is taken away, so we can see God's glory in the face of Jesus and in the written Word of God. As we stay in the light of God's glory, we both reflect the light and are transformed by it: when we spend time in the presence of Jesus we become more and more like him. All this is the work of the Spirit who lifts the veil and reveals Jesus to us, and brings his presence into our lives - and with his presence, true freedom.
The important thing is to see Jesus. Transformation comes through revelation - not so much of truth as of the Person who is the way, the truth and the life. We need to see how the truth we learn in the Bible is made visible in Jesus, and to ask of every Scripture not just 'What is God saying to me?' but also 'What is God revealing to me about Jesus?' It is as we look at him that we become like him; and when we see him as he is, we will be fully like him (1 John 3:2).
Paul realised that if the Holy Spirit was lifting the veil and revealing the glory of God, the truth about Jesus could not be something secretive, taught to a select few as in certain mystery religions current at the time. He had to make it as plain as possible, trusting God to do the spiritual unveiling.
ISSUES AND QUESTIONS
When you read the Bible, what do you expect to happen?
Do we keep our religion a secret, or try to make the truth as plain as possible?
Do our words and images connect with the modern world?
IDEAS FOR MEETINGS
Welcome question: Have you had an experience in the dark that was amusing or frightening or otherwise memorable?
'You become like those you spend time with.' Can you think of anyone of whom this is true?
Worship: Pass round a bag with some interesting shaped objects in it, which people have to try to identify by feeling, without being able to see them. When all have had a go, ask them what was in the bag, then bring the objects into the light. Point out the obvious difference it makes to see them.
Read the story of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), and ask everyone to imagine the difference Jesus made to him.
End with a song such as 'Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness'.