Leave it to Paul to find a way to encapsulate both the majesty and the simplicity of the gospel in one verse.
“Mystery” comes from the Greek word mustērion. While to us “mystery” means something that is concealed from the viewer, the New Testament meaning is the exact opposite. A mustērion is something that was concealed but has now been made visible. For centuries, Old Testament prophets strained to see the Messiah of Whom they spoke, but it was not until John the Baptist, arguably the last Old Testament prophet, that a prophet could declare: “Behold! The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) We read that verse and I think we miss the excitement that John must have felt upon seeing the Savior. The Anointed One, long shrouded in the mists of time, was now clearly revealed. The Holy Spirit specifically pointed Him out to John:
(32) And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
(33) And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
Then as Jesus was baptized, God Father publicly declared Him as His Son:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
Great indeed is this mystery which God has revealed to us! And at the same time how simple! That’s not to say it was easy for our Savior. He had to suffer and die to procure our salvation and God had to raise Him from the dead. The entire gospel is based on incredible feats of grace, but for us who believe, how simple: Jesus “was manifested in the flesh, vindicated [affirmed to be the Messiah] by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (ESV). The gospel we believe in is not mysterious. It is a public gospel, open to examination and scrutiny. Controversial, yes, but undeniable and accessible.
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