I love a good mystery. Our incessant news coverage of the airline disappearance of MH370 suggests I’m not alone. Aren’t our curiosities piqued by the unexplained and don’t we theorize with each thread of detail that emerges? All these years later, I believe mystery continues to permeate through the Christmas season. Christmas’s mystery may not be a New York Times Bestseller whodunit solved by a keen mind and it may not be the next hit podcast like Serial, but I believe its mystery renews our hope, first, and our lives, later. To steal a line from The Phantom of the Opera, the mystery of Christmas has never been fully explained.
How can a virgin give birth? “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of God will overshadow you,” reports Gabriel (Luke 1:35 NRSV). Thanks Gabriel, you provided much for clarity… What’s clear is this: the Lord, through Gabriel’s report, is less interested in our scientific questions of ‘how’ and more interested in sharing the ‘who’ behind the mystery of the virgin birth. Gabriel’s answer lets us know who is in charge. God is behind it. God is orchestrating the mystery and He chooses not to reveal the scientific ‘how’ questions other than saying His power is at work. In spite of the mysteries surrounding Jesus’s birth—a birth that will never be fully explained—what the Bible does share is that this infant Jesus is the fullness of God in the flesh of mankind (Colossians 1:19). Whatever God is, Jesus is (John 1:1). There is no distinction. To understand the mystery of God, we must observe and study the life of Christ because everything that God is so is Jesus.
So, what is Christ like? In two words, He loves. He loved so much that he wept when we hurt, He healed the sick and wounded, He freed the oppressed, He gave voice to the mute, He forgave the perpetrators, He accepted us—as wounded and as broken as we were (and are). He loved (and loves) us. He gave Himself up for us. He died for us. Why? Isn’t that the greatest of all the mysteries?
Why would he love me? Why did He love me so much that he took my brokenness, my mistakes, my failures, my wrongs, and put Himself in my place? Why would He say, Matt, you are my child and my son, and I love you? Why would He give His life for my life? Why would he say, Matt, you are forgiven? I’m not that special. I’m not that honorable. I’m just an aspiring servant that tries to love like God loves. But, as you already know, I’ll let you down, I’ll say the wrong things, I’ll write the wrong words, I’ll withhold what I shouldn’t, I’ll ignore the needs of others, I’ll walk away when I should embrace, and I’ll fail over and over again. You know better than to put me on a pedestal. So, why on earth would He give Himself for me? Why on earth would he give himself for you? You’re just like me, aren’t you—broken, mistake-prone, and, at times, hurtful?
If the ‘whys’ of God’s love remain shrouded in mystery, then He allows us to hold onto hope with this key statement: “For God so loved us that He gave up His Son…(John 3:16)” The mystery as to why God came as an infant is clearly answered: God loves us. So much. He wants us to know it. He loves us and proved it by dying on the cross. He beckons us to Him inviting us into His arms. This fullness of God, this Jesus Christ, this whatever substance God is He is, came to earth so that He can bring us home. That’s where we belong at Christmas isn’t it? At home—with our families? Christ came to take us to His home to be with our family, His family. All He asks is ‘Do we trust Him, do we put our hope in Him’? When we put our hope and trust in Him, we can let Him sort out the mysteries of life knowing that He will provide a way over every obstacle, every challenge. Merry Christmas and may the mystery of God draw you ever closer because He loves you beyond compare!
The article above first appeared in the Suffolk News-Herald, North Suffolk edition, on December 25, 2014. It is also shared here for the family of Bethlehem.