We all love a good mystery. We find great satisfaction when we solve them. The more tantalisingly difficult they are, the greater the sense of achievement when we unravel them.
We also love receiving presents, and the more well-received a present is, the greater the value and importance we ascribe to the giver and the gift.
Paul the apostle was captivated by a mystery. He referred to it as a mystery that had been hidden from ages and generations. Although many great minds have pondered over this mystery, as far as Paul was concerned, the answer to this mystery had eluded everyone, including himself, until he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road.
The mystery concerns the real reason why humanity exists and our place in relation to the Creator and the Creator’s caring and mindfulness for man.
The Psalmists recognised this mystery when they asked of the Creator:
“What is mankind that You are mindful^ of them, human beings that You care^ for them?” Psalm 8:4
“Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?” Psalm 144:3
The Writer of Job recorded Job’s thoughts on the matter as:
“What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention?”
Even knowing and experiencing the mindful caring of the Divine did not assuage their desire and urge to question to know “Why”.
Somehow, ingrained in our human nature is a persistent urge to seek for meaning, significance and value for our existence. We are constantly driven, consciously or subconsciously, to find an authentic answer to the “why” and purpose of our existence. Rick Warren’s ‘A Purpose Driven Life’, a New York Bestseller book, was an effort to address this issue.
We intrinsically feel something missing or lacking within our humanity. Without knowing the “why” and purpose of our existence, many of us break under and succumb to the loads placed on us in life. Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy, a form of existential analysis, understood and recognised this. In his best selling book “Man's Search for Meaning”, he quotes Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” The “Why “ will always undergird and strengthen the “How”.
For Paul, the hidden mystery or counsel concerning humankind was that God had conceived and purposed in eternity, within the Triune Communion, that the Son would became a man - Christ Jesus. Father’s will, Son’s choice and Spirit’s activity determined the inevitable predestined nature of this happening taking place, in the fullness of time, in our human history, in our humanity.
Concerning Christ, (in whom the divine and human natures are so joined in hypostatic union without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation, in one person in the incarnation, that it may be said that the person of Jesus is truly and properly God and truly and properly man), Son, who is now a man, Paul wrote: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in* him were all things 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 by(through)** him, and for*** him”
All things are created in, by and through the Son. All things were also created for the Son who was to become a man, a human being. It follows then that creation was not only for the Son as the Eternal Son, but also for the Son who has now become a man, one with us in our humanity and one in us in our humanity.
Although Triune God had to create before humanity can come into being, Triune God created that Son could become a human being. To be in eternal union with created humanity seems to be the impetus for creating and creation.
The Triune nature of the Godhead also means that in the Son becoming man, Triune God also became a human being. For whatever is of the Father is of the Son and the Spirit, whatever is of the Spirit is also of the Father and the Son and whatever is of the Son is also of the Father and the Spirit. Yet at the same time, Father is always Father, Son is always, Son, Spirit is always Spirit and only Son became human, a man.
Paul wrote: “the mystery which had been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his(God’s) saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: that was hidden throughout the ages.” Colossians 1:26,27
For Paul, mystery unravelled is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
John, the Apostle, expressed this unravelled mystery from a different perspective: “In beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…… and the Word became flesh and dwelt in*us.” John 1:1, John 1:14
Both Apostles, however, concur that in the unravelled mystery, in essence, Son is in us – “Christ in us, Word.. dwelt in us”.
Christ in us happens also to be Triune God’s greatest Gift to humanity and creation.
John states: “For God so loved the World (cosmos) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes into him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The Incarnation was the moment of the unravelling mystery taking bodily form, of the Present being given and delivered by God to his creation (For God so loved the Cosmos), to humanity above all other creatures, but kept under wraps, in Mary’s womb.
The first Christmas, when Mary gave birth to her firstborn, Yeshua – Immanuel^^, was when knowledge of the unravelled Mystery was officially presented to the whole of creation and for humanity to begin to know the real “why” of our existence and purpose.
The Present was finally unwrapped that we may savor and enjoy the new relationship that humanity now has, in Christ, with Triune God, ever growing into intimate union where the two, Triune God and humanity, become one, Christ in us and we in Christ, the hope of glory.
The authentic answer to the ‘why”, of the Psalmists and the Writer of Job, concerning the existence, purpose and place of humanity in relation to its Creator and the Creator’s mindful caring of humanity is now known. It is “the hope of glory “in an intimate union where the two, Triune God and humanity, become one, Christ in us and we in Christ, for humanity’s reason, purpose for existence, being and destiny has been, is and will ever be inevitably and intrinsically woven into the life and being of the Person of Jesus, Son in Triune God, Word who is God, man Christ Jesus.
In the Son becoming man, the Giver and the Gift to humanity and creation is one and the same^^, for in the Son made flesh, all the fullness of Diety dwells bodily. All the fullness of the Triune “I AM that I AM, IS and WILL BE”, in and through the Son becoming man, dwells bodily in the man Christ Jesus.
Christmas is about this unravelling of the Mystery of the ages and the unwrapping of the Present that had been prepared before creation began.
This is what the celebration of Christmas is about - Immanuel, God with us, Christ in us, dwelling in us, the hope of glory.
The continual unravelling of the import, magnitude and wonder of this union of and communion between God and man will be the privilege of whosoever asks, seeks and pursues.
The Mystery has been unravelled. The Present has been given and unwrapped. The Word has become flesh. Triune God in Son has become a human being and joined the fullness of Deity to our humanity, that our humanity may partake of the Triune divine nature.
Son is presently dwelling in us. Son is presently dwelling in you.
Christ has made us his rest. Triune God has made you His rest.
This is what Christmas is about.
In Christ, may you experience being the rest of Triune God and may Father, Son and Spirit be your rest.
^ The Hebrew word for mindful זָכַרzakar and care(visit) פָּקַדpaqad are imperfect verbs, which express an action that is incomplete.
The imperfect expresses an action, process or condition which is incomplete, and has a wide range of meaning:
1a) it is used to described a single ( as opposed to a repeated) action in the past; it differs from the perfect in being more vivid and pictorial. The perfect expresses the “fact”. The imperfect adds color and movement by suggesting the “process” preliminary to its completion. Eg. It came to a halt. I began to hear.
1b) A phrase such as “Why are you mindful?” refers not only to the present, but assumes that being mindful has continued for some time. Why do you weep? Why refuse to eat? Why are you distressed? These relate not so much as to one occasion, as to a continued condition.
*Greek - ἐν, en; a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state). John the Apostle did not use the Greek word - μέσος, mesos: an adjective specifically describing being in the midst of or among a group.
**Greek - διά, dia; a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act.
***Greek - εἰς, eis; a primary preposition usually indicating to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result), having motion and dynamism as opposed to staticity in time, place or state as in ἐν. However, it can also be used to reference as “for, for the benefit of, to the advantage of” as in this case in Colossians1:16
^^ Immanuel – meaning “God with us”. “For in him the fullness of Deity dwells bodily”, Colossians 2:9
“In beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God ………. Word became flesh and dwelt in*us. (And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, John 1:14