MYSTERY IN A MANGER
Terry R. Baughman
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7–8).
Everyone loves a mystery. Maybe not the mystery itself, but the revealed secrets that clarifies the mystery. When we get into a mystery novel or movie we anticipate the unfolding drama, the twists and turns of the plot, expecting that eventually all the loose ends will be resolved and the conclusion will reveal what was clouded with uncertainty at the beginning. Perhaps there are stories that fail to reveal all at the connected developments and leave us wondering about the unanswered questions.
The Bible details many mysteries, but none so important and dramatic as God’s plan of redemption and His self-revelation. A study of Scripture will reveal many mysteries as the writers supply clues and conclusions through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom can often be shrouded in mystery. Paul spoke of the “hidden wisdom” that was predetermined before creation. He revealed that this mystery was received by the “wisdom of God” and was manifested in Jesus Christ! This understanding was not given to the “rulers of this age … for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7–8). Paul declared that “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26–27).
Jesus was the revealed wisdom of God. Paul said, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:15–16). In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he established that the mystery of godliness was revealed in Christ. He wrote, “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
The mystery in the manger signaled the pivotal point of all time. The hidden wisdom was seeking revelation. The fullness of time had arrived. God stepped into His creation as a baby born in Bethlehem. Throughout His life and ministry the plot of salvation was developed and the mystery of ages was revealed in redemption. This was the plot. This was His plan. This was the truth He had come to reveal. As Jesus told Pilate as He was being judged, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
Paul’s passion was to make known the mystery by revealing God’s wisdom. He said,“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).
The mystery is revealed. From the manger to the ascension, from His birth to His resurrection, from the promise of a Savior to the provision of His Spirit, the mystery of ages was given form and substance. Wisdom was revealed and the shroud of secrecy melted into the clarity of fulfillment through the coming of Messiah, Jesus Christ.
“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).