Little Crosses and Shining Faces
When I was a kid, I had a little plastic cross that glowed in the dark after it absorbed a bit of light. Of course, it always faded after a short while, but it provided much entertainment. Come to think of it, the fading effect kept the enjoyment going, for I often experimented in the attempt to make it shine brighter and longer. All it took was a lamp, an outlet, and a dark room. I didn't realize it at the time but that fading cross had been speaking to me of something much greater than a science lesson.
Now if you've read much of Matthew, then you're already familiar with the constant assessment Jesus made concerning the faith of his disciples. It was "little". Now most of us have come to accept from such statements that we need to have our little faith increased or improved upon. But what if we have only learned how to keep ourselves in the same rut the disciples' wheels also spun in? In other words, what if we have only learned how to process what Jesus said according to the same misunderstanding by which Peter and the rest constantly flip-flopped in their own futile attempts to increase their faith? I propose to you that, despite how we have come to read his words, Jesus had been continually sticking their noses into the stinky smell of a faith they inwardly knew could not last. For they had learned such faith through Moses, and it was the kind of faith that glowed from an infusion of light, but was destined to fade ... like the light of my little cross.
Even then, Moses understood the futility of what he delivered to Israel, and so he purposely kept them from seeing how it faded away. As described in Exodus 34:29-35, every time Moses met with God - beginning with the giving of the 10 commandments - his face shone so brightly that the people had difficulty looking into it. After passing on God's words to Israel, Moses put a covering over his face, until the next time he met with God. Having done so, they did not see how the shine faded away. As far as Israel knew, the glow on Moses' face validated their belief that the Law would always dominate. Little did they know that God would one day destroy that dominance.
What if the thing Jesus was doing by constantly speaking to his disciples of their "little faith" had to do with the temporary thing they had come to accept based upon that which ministered death? What if what he was doing was bringing everything of the ministry of death into the light so that it could be seen for what it was ... even though they would not really see it until after his death and resurrection when Jesus sent his spirit to them? What if he was letting them see how their little crosses couldn't help but fade in the face of that which didn't fade (which was the life of God in himself)? What an experience that must have been for those men. But then again, I think we're being brought through the same when we listen to fleshly wisdom and then try to follow through in order to resurrect that which has died.
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 NASB