In the evening, when all of my responsibilities for the day are done, one of my favorite ways to relax is to read a Christian novel, especially a mystery story. Since these stories usually center around solving a puzzling crime, they keep my interest until the end.
In the Bible, the word mystery isn’t quite the same as the world’s idea of a mystery. It refers to truths that are undiscoverable by human understanding. Only by revelation from God do these truths become learnable. The focus of this week’s Advent devotions from God Is In The Manger, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, center around the biblical theme of mystery.
To live without these mysteries is to live limited to human reason, seeing only what is visible on the surface. Mystery is used over 45 times in the Bible, most in the New Testament. A few of these are the mystery of lawlessness and iniquity, the mystery of the will of God, the mystery of Christ and the church, and the mystery of the kingdom of God (kingdom of heaven in Mathew).
But there is one mystery that stands out above all the others. To live without God’s mysteries being revealed is to live without Christ Jesus, because we cannot come to the a knowledge of Christ Jesus or accept Him without the Father drawing us.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:44 NIV
In Colossians 2:2-3, Paul speaks of Christ as “the mystery of God.“
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 NIV
Bonhoeffer calls God’s willingness to become human “The Wonder of All Wonders.” That God loved the people of this fallen world so much that He gave His only Son, Christ Jesus, that those who believe in Him will not perish but would have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus Christ is the unrecognized mystery of this world:
- He became lowly and weak, out of love for mankind.
- He shows that God loves the world, not an ideal world but the real, fallen one.
- He is God revealed in flesh, the God-human Jesus Christ.
- He was born as a human baby, placed in a lowly manger where animals had been fed.
- Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, was also the Lord of glory.
- He lived a sinless life, then took upon Himself all of our sin.
- Because of His sacrificial death on the Cross, we can all be forgiven.
- He is coming back soon for those who eagerly await His return.