Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
My favorite genre of fiction and media entertainment is the mystery. In my childhood I read Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys, along with other mystery novels. At one time I had a large collection of Agatha Christie books and the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes. There are some mysteries where the authors leave little clues along the way so the observer can test their own powers of deduction and solve the mystery before the end of the tale. There are other authors who design their plots so the mystery can never be known ahead of the climax because a vital piece of the puzzle is left unrevealed until the very end. And there is yet another style where the observer knows from the outset what has occurred, but the entertainment comes in watching how the detective finally figures out the mystery and catches the culprit. The proliferation of such books and shows reveals that I am not alone in my interest of mystery.
The Bible speaks a lot about mystery, as well, but it is a bit different than our discussion above. The biblical definition of mystery is something that is not unknowable, but it must be revealed by the Holy Spirit. Way back in Deuteronomy 29:29 we read that the secret things belong to God, but the revealed things belong to us. In the New Testament a mystery is something that was not known in the Old Testament, but in the fullness of time was revealed in the New Testament. There we find the word used about 27 times, referring to 11 different kinds of mysteries.
One of the great mysteries of the Scripture is how God would bring about His promise in the Garden of Eden to make everything right again, after the devastation wrought by the Fall. He promised that one would come who would bruise the head of the serpent. Little did they understand at that moment who that would be, and what all it would entail. Throughout the Old Testament we see hints of the revelation of the mystery, clues that were indistinct. The sacrifices, rituals, types, symbols, and prophecies all pointed to Him in ways that were not discernable until Jesus finally came, and the Holy Spirit was given. Oh, to have been on that road to Emmaus and hear Jesus explain to them how the Scriptures from Moses to Malachi spoke of Him, leaving clues to follow, but were only understood after He had come to fulfill God’s word.
Even when we understand the basics of such mysteries we realize that there is more wonder attached to them than our finite brains can grasp. Through the Spirit we can come to understand that He came to save us, but who can truly fathom the truth of the incarnation and the dual natures that reside in the Person of the Son? While we can accept the doctrine of the Trinity who can really explain One God with Three Persons and how that works without having their brains ache a bit in the attempt? We believe that He saved us in in order for us to be one with Him as He is one with the Father, but how can we fully grasp what it means to be “hidden with Christ in God,” or that we have been crucified, buried, and resurrected with Him? The mystery that we are all these things has been revealed, but there is so much more yet to comprehend. There is so much we must still accept by faith in His word.
What has been revealed is enough to inspire wonder and worship. We fall naturally into praise when our spirits resonate with Paul’s doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out.” It will be a constant source of amazement throughout eternity because He is infinitely wonderful, and these endless mysteries will roll out before us, so we can worship with renewed awe, day after day. But in the meantime we ponder; we behold the wondrous mysteries to which we have been given access already, and we worship.
The bulk of those mysteries is revealed as we gaze upon Jesus. In Him we see the unfathomable love of God, His justice, His wisdom, His beauty, His goodness…In Him we see the intimacy of the Godhead, the humility of the incarnation, the lengths to which God would go to redeem such rebellious and wicked creatures, turning them into righteous and holy in His sight through Christ. As we gaze at Jesus we see the power of God, our blessed hope, and our rescue from God’s righteous wrath. We wonder anew that holy, eternal God would come, take on our sin, bear our punishment, and die for us. If we truly want to come and behold wondrous mysteries, they are all seen in the Person of Jesus, unveiled by the power of the Spirit, to the glory of the Father. We cannot help but worship when we ponder them—when we ponder Him!