“making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” Ephesians 1:9
This summer at the Olympics the big mystery was, “Who is going to light the Olympic flame?” In the end, it was a group of young athletes who lit the Olympic flame together. I don’t think anyone saw that coming!
In the same way – many people missed the mystery of God early on and many still miss the mystery today. The mysterious will of God is to have everything in heaven and earth united in Jesus. But this was not understood during the time of the writing of the Old Testament.
The Bible is like a flower that opens up over time. A rose bud is tightly closed. But if you look closely, you can see a bit of the red color showing through. If you’d never seen a rose, you wouldn’t understand what is coming next. But over time, the bud opens up and we see the beautiful rose.
In the Old Testament we see glimpses of Jesus – if we know what we’re looking for – but it’s not easy. As Paul says here, there is mystery in the way God revealed himself in the Old Testament.
We see a picture of the sacrificial lamb, we see the promise in Genesis 3 that Satan would be crushed by Eve’s offspring, and we see King David ruling over God’s people as a picture of the coming King Jesus but David’s not even close to being a perfect king.
Even when Jesus walked the earth with his disciples – they had a hard time understanding this mystery of God. Several times Jesus said he would die and rise again, but it wasn’t until after the death and resurrection of Jesus that the disciples came to understand that Jesus was the promised savior of the entire world.
In Luke 24, we find the story of Jesus appearing on the road with two of the disciples. But they didn’t recognize Jesus as they talk about the events of the day – Jesus’ trial, his death and his resurrection. The the writer then says:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Beginning with Moses, the man who wrote the first five books of the bible, and through the prophets at the end of the Old Testament – Jesus said that all of this was about him. The mystery is about Jesus!!
The disciples had a hard time understanding the mystery and we often miss the mystery as well.
We miss the mystery because we think Jesus should ride in with power to fix all our problems when he said it is the poor, the humble and the outcast who inherit the kingdom of God.
We miss the mystery because we think Jesus doesn’t care about our situation when in fact, Jesus said I will never leave you nor forsake you.
We miss the mystery because we think Jesus doesn’t understand what we are going through when he in fact faced the brutal pain and the humiliating shame of the cross for our sakes.
This verse in Ephesians says that the Father is “making known to us the mystery of his will.” An understanding of this mystery comes not because you or I are so smart. We’re no better at figuring out the things of God than anyone else. It’s a work of grace that God has revealed the mystery to His people. We can take no credit. We can not boast. We have nothing to stand on except God’s unmerited favor.
And that too is part of the mystery of God.