22nd December 2011

Christ, The Mystery Of God

The significance of Jesus’ birth 

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’”
Luke 1:30-32(NIV) 

Jesus was certainly a man of many mysteries, but all of the mysteries revealed in the New Testament concerning him grew out of the initial mystery of the incarnation. 

In the New Testament, the word ‘mystery’ is often used to refer to a profound truth which God has revealed, but which remains outside of our full grasp. God, after all, is eternally spirit and we are but mortal flesh. In this sense, even for believers, Jesus remains ‘a man of mystery’, as there is so much we don’t yet know about him. 

The incarnation remains an essential truth which has been clearly revealed, but which still stretches our understanding and comprehension. We do not know how God, who is spirit, can become flesh, but we do know that he did, and that Jesus, born of the virgin, Mary, was both fully God and fully man. This is why Paul refers to Jesus as “the Mystery of God” (Colossians 2:2). 

The main point to the story, however, is not how a child was born through the power of the Holy Spirit via the ‘miracle’ of human birth, but that, as a result of this event, God became incarnate. The simple fact is that Jesus was truly unique. The person we meet in the pages of the New Testament and who remains forever shrouded in mystery, had his origins in this event. Here are just two of the New Testament scriptures which light on the significance of the incarnation: Matthew 1:20-23—The annunciation to Joseph revealed how God and man ‘came together’ in the person of Jesus. And Luke 1:35; 2:7—The annunciation to Mary referred to Jesus as both God’s son and also her son. 

The apostles John and Paul take us ‘behind the scenes’ as it were, to reveal the magnitude of what really took place when the child, Jesus was born. John tells us in John 1:14 and 1:1, how the Word of God, the eternal self-expression of God, penetrated our human experience and revealed God to man, in the person of Jesus, to make known the unknowable. Paul reveals how the eternal Son of God ‘emptied himself’ of his former glory to take on human form in Philippians 2:6-7. Not laying aside his deity but changing its ‘form’. Though still fully God, Jesus took on the form and the role of a servant. 

The scriptures reveal so much more about the man Jesus, but, principally, what is revealed is that, by means of the incarnation, there came into existence a unique person who was in all points human, but in all essentials, divine. It was at the birth of Jesus that a new humanity was born (1 Corinthians 15:45-49), and it is our union with the incarnate Son which enables us now to share in his eternal communion with the Father, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

As Christians, we can make use of the Advent season to remember and celebrate the incarnation event and to worship Christ, the mystery of God. 

Heavenly Father, help us to take the time at this busy season of the year to reflect on the great mystery of the incarnation, which shows us that the man Jesus, our Saviour, was not only a truly unique individual, but that the Salvation he has given to us, through his own life, death and resurrection, was uniquely his to give.

Study by Richard Dempsey 

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