mystery of mysteries,
truth of all truths,
finder of the lost,
here i am.
Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one.
—Paul’s description of the mysterious man who transformed his life
(1 Corinthians 1:24 Message)
I used to think I knew Jesus because I knew about him. But knowing someone’s resume and being someone’s brother are two completely different things. I found that out after I met Jesus for myself.
If you can make sense of Jesus, explain him, define him, or make him sound reasonable, my guess is you’ve never actually met him. After all, his closest friends didn’t understand him, the religious rulers thought he was possessed by demons, and his own family thought he’d gone insane. No one knew what to make of this man of mystery. I guess that’s what happens when God dresses in skin, when heaven’s wisdom speaks human words.
The greatest mystery of Christianity isn’t that God loves us; nearly every religion would tell you that much. The greatest mystery is that God actually became one of us: “Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ appeared in the flesh and was shown to be righteous by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and was announced to the nations. He was believed on in the world and was taken up into heaven” (1 Timothy 3:16).
In Colossians 2:2-3 Paul calls Jesus, “the mystery of God . . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (NIV). Jesus is a holy conundrum. A living enigma. A mystery. He was born helpless and yet almighty, temporal and yet eternal, human and yet divine. He grew to become a carpenter who was wildly meek, quietly loud, furiously patient, humbly proud. He was the bringer of both peace and a sword, of both clarity and confusion, of both judgment and pardon.
i don’t name you, you name me.
i don’t understand you, you understand me.
and the paradox of this love is that you uncover me
as you unveil yourself.
the mystery of this discovery swallows all of who i am.
that’s the essence of faith.
if i could understand faith it would cease to be faith.
i only know the mystery
because the mystery knows me.
Jesus was too normal-looking to arouse suspicion. He didn’t stick out in a crowd. In fact, Judas had to point him out to the soldiers so they could identify him when they arrested him. He was that forgettable. And yet he’s the most memorable and influential man in the history of the world.
He spoke in the riddles of a mystic, yet with the authority of a God. He was both humble and audacious, both soft-spoken and fiery, full of both sorrow and joy. No one has ever been meeker. No one has ever been bolder.
Jesus, the real Jesus, is earthshaking. He will both calm your soul and send a tidal wave of truth crashing through your spirit. As soon as you try to figure him out or wrap your mind around him, you’ll get lost in the mystery of this man.
child of heaven,
son of earth.
fragrance of light,
strength of eternity.
former of worlds,
shaper of souls.
storm of glory,
love of God.
tamer of tempests,
raiser of the dead.
offender of the religious,
befriender of the outcast.
lion of conquest,
lamb of sacrifice.
hero of the ages,
talebearer of eternity.
king of all kings,
servant of all servants.
calmer of consciences,
disturber of the peace.
He is the mystic, majestic, mysterious Jesus. Holiness wrapped in humanity. He sneezed, coughed, yawned, burped, and got the hiccups, and yet he could walk on water, step through walls, and raise the dead.
When you try to prod at him, he prods at you. And when you finally meet him face-to-face, he’ll shake your world—hardened criminals have been known to fall to their knees, shield their eyes, tremble, and weep at his feet. That’s what happens when the veil is lifted and you finally glimpse his terrible, irresistible, glorious, soul-consuming love.
Theology is the greatest threat to spiritual pilgrims when it becomes the game of defining God and gets in the way of letting God define you. I think the wonder tales—fantasies and fairy tales—lie closer to the heart of the Easter story because they acknowledge the reality of good and evil, the battle between right and wrong, the power of the supernatural, and the wonder of a world where dreams actually do come true.
If you try to divorce the mystery of Jesus from Christianity, you’ll be left with just another religion, and a not very interesting one at that. Mystery lies at the heart of this story.
When Jesus calls us to believe, he calls us to step out on a limb, not to fall back into our comfort zone and rely on our own reasonable opinions. He calls us to a radical commitment, never to a practical religiosity.
And I think that’s good, because it seems to me that people today are hungry for mystery again. Philosophy has given us questions; science has given us facts. But neither of those fill our souls. Jesus gives both truth hidden in mystery and mystery hidden in truth. In this way he can give both our heads and our hearts what we long for most.
The story of God becoming man is incomprehensible. Only fools would dare to believe it. And the idea that God loves us enough to die for us? Preposterous. I’m staggered at the thought of the world-whisperer speaking my name, of the almighty breaking into song at the thought of me or coming to earth to die for me. Yet that is the truth, that is the mystery of Jesus.
God didn’t send us a doctrine to learn, or a religion to live, or a philosophy to debate. He sent us a brother to love and a madman to trust and a servant to serve and a mystery to embrace. Within the mystery of Jesus, all that is foolish teaches all that is wise, all that is weak conquers all that is strong, and death itself is swallowed up by life. Here truth and mystery stand side by side and immerse hungry souls in their sea.
To enter the story of Easter, you have to pass through the gate of mystery.
Through the person of Jesus.
touching the unseen
the text of my life is in need of editing.
enter between the lines,
pick up the pen of your love,
let your mystery engulf my heart,
reveal yourself to me
even if it means that
i must disappear