People do not normally look to wedding veils for Bible reading inspiration, but they should! There is a lot of excitement during traditional wedding ceremonies when the bride’s face is unveiled. But how does reading the Bible with unveiled faces actually work? What does it mean?
Seeing Christ With Unveiled Faces
Wedding veils teach us how to understand the Bible. Surprised? Let me demonstrate this to you from a passage in 2nd Corinthians:
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2nd Corinthians 3:12-18).
Understanding the Bible With Unveiled Faces
Verse 18 captures the main point of that passage: Christians are the great beneficiaries of the privilege to “behold” the glory of the Lord with “unveiled face”. This is amazing! We have the image of a bride with a veil over her face. On the wedding day, she approaches her husband while being led by her father down the aisle.
This is because she cannot yet see clearly with her veil still covering her face. When the moment comes for her to stand before her husband, there comes the point in the wedding ceremony where the veil is lifted. Two things happen: first, she immediately met with the glory of her husband. The eyes meet, smiles occur, and the establishment of trust and excitement takes place.
The second thing that happens is the reflection of the bride, once her eyes meet her husband. The look of expression and body language of the bride immediately reveal what she feels at that moment.
This is a very clear picture of a wedding. And a wedding is what Paul is portraying to you and me in verse 18. When Paul says that we are “beholding” the glory of the Lord, some Bible translations seem to struggle over the word, since some translations say “beholding”, while others say “reflecting”. Which one is it?
A Little Bit of Greek
The word itself, κατοπτριζόμενοι, means ‘to behold as in a mirror’. Yet the picture we get is exactly the picture as described in the wedding ceremony. When the bride fixes her unveiled eyes upon the groom, she both beheld his glory and reflected it by her body language, and demeanor. This is the ebb and flow that we experience when we seek to understand the Bible. We behold and we reflect.
Suppose that on the other side of her veil is a man unknown to her. Perhaps he may look attractive, or perhaps he may have some type of debilitating disease unknown to her. At that moment, she would reflect by her look of horror, confusion, and fear.
That would be a terrible thing, but this is not the case with Christ. Instead, we behold His glory in every sense. We come into contact with the One True God- and not a far distant contact, but as close as that of an unveiled bride beholding her groom. This is what it means to be a Christian. Regardless of how shallow or deep we have treaded in the waters, it is the reality of all believers. We have been welcomed in to live among Christ. And Christ wants His bride to understand the Bible, where He can be found.
Veiled Faces Lead to Stumbling
This may all sound good to us, but for many people, this experience simply is not their experience. We know that what Paul is saying is correct, but our lives simply don’t seem to show it in the tangible way we’d like.
For many of us, we still seem to be stumbling around with a veil. It would seem that we feel quite comfortable in saying that our “face to face” moment will occur when we get to heaven. But we must remember that our freedom to pursue of Jesus Christ is not placed on hold until we get to heaven. Paul tells us that this “unveiling” comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, and that occurs the moment we experience the salvation of the Lord.
That is to say, we should happily accept that our relationship with Jesus here on earth is not the ultimate grace that will be given to us in the eternal state (1 John 3:2), but it is nothing short of the true and beautiful glory of Christ that we are freed to gaze upon and freed to pursue in all of life NOW. My hope is that we would not throw away the grace of our ‘here and now’, because what we have been given as Christians is the grace of pursuing Jesus Christ our savior.
The Bible Tells us to Savor Our Unveiled Fellowship with God
God has given us of Himself so that we would cry ‘Abba Father’ to Him, just as Christ does. This is only possible through the joining together of ourselves to Christ in relationship. The prayers we offer, the worship we participate in, the obedience we possess- all are reflections to that of Jesus Christ and our closeness to Him in His glory.
And what happens when we approach to Jesus with unveiled face? Things start to become clear. We have a clear view of God, who we are as the Church, and what life actively looks like for us. All of this is encompassed in the beholding and reflecting of the glory of Christ. And it is truly Glorious.
So how does your attempt to understand the Bible relate to weddings? Is the clarity of your reading like a bride with her veil removed, or are you stumbling around with a veil over your face?
Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between the two. Comment below and share your experience!
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