And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. (Exodus 34:33)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Have you ever had something stuck in your teeth and you didn’t know it? Or a pen mark on your face, but didn’t realize it? It can be embarrassing. Not for you, but for those who notice it. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t be shy about telling you that you had something in your teeth or on your face, right? Hopefully, someone cares about you enough to let you know.
Moses didn’t know that the skin of his face was shining. He had been up on Mt. Sinai, speaking with God. When he came back down to talk to the people, his face was shining. But he couldn’t wash it off. His face was shining because he was in the presence of God. The people couldn’t take it. They did not want to look Moses in the face. Why? Because it was embarrassing. Not for Moses, but for them. They knew of their sinfulness, and even just the residual effect of speaking with God was too much for them. When Moses was done speaking, he put a veil over his face so that they would not have to look at it. Moses would only remove it when he went in to speak to God, and when he would then tell the people what God had said. Otherwise, he stayed veiled.
If Moses, who just simply spoke with God, had the consequence of a shining face, what do you think Jesus looked like when He was born? You would think that His face and body must have been glowing continually. That would make sense. But that’s not what happened. At the Mount of Transfiguration, His face shone. But only then. Why? Because like Moses, Jesus put on a veil. Unlike Moses, it wasn’t a veil of cloth—it was our flesh. Jesus humbled himself. Paul writes in Philippians, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Why did Jesus veil Himself in our flesh? So that He could go to the cross and die in your place, paying for your sinful flesh. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Remember, Lord of life and grace, How once, to save our fallen race, You put our human vesture on And came to us as Mary’s son. Alleluia! (O Savior of Our Fallen Race, LSB 403:3)