“Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16, NIV).
The “mystery of Christ” is “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18, NIV). In this unlikely “Christmas verse” found in 1 Timothy, Paul proclaims the mystery of godliness by delineating the life of Christ from birth (Christmas Day) to the day of his ascension. His timeline on earth should be without controversy and without question. His time is exact and precise, and it is controlled and designed by the mighty Father God of this world and of the entire universe.
He appeared in the flesh. On Christmas Day, Jesus appeared, born of a virgin woman, yet conceived by and through the Spirit of the living God and Father. Kings representing all nations on earth traveled two years from the east to arrive in Bethlehem at just the right time to present their gifts to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Shepherds, representing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, arrived at just the right time to pay homage to the Lamb of God. Mary and Joseph, each descended from King David, also called a shepherd, observed the miracle child while marveling how the news of this birth brought nighttime guests so quickly and from so far away, from royalty to peasant keepers of sheep. A bright star provided direction for the journey night after night for twenty-four months, and a loud chorus of angels shouted from the sky a song of deliverance and triumph and peace at the exact moment.
Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit. Mary’s womb was touched by God’s Holy Spirit. Nine months later, the baby was born of water and blood and Spirit. Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man through the Spirit. He was baptized by John in the Jordan, and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. He was crucified on Golgotha, the place of the skull, and when a spear was cast into His side, water and blood came forth as His Spirit fled. He was raised by the Spirit on day three.
He was seen by angels. God instructed ALL of the angels to worship His only begotten on Christmas Day. Angels ministered to Him in the desert as He withstood the temptations of Satan. Angels comforted Him as He prayed with sweat like drops of blood in Gethsemane. Angels stood by the empty tomb and announced, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5, NIV).
He was preached among the nations and was believed throughout the world. For over 2,000 years, His life story has been powerfully told and proclaimed in all nations and in all tongues. From the joyful message of birth to the sorrowful message of death, victory was announced then and victory reigns today through Christ our Lord!
He was taken up in glory. “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight…. ‘Men of Galilee,’ [the angels] said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9–11, NIV).
The SET time is coming soon, the FULLNESS of time for His return is at hand! Be thankful, not foolish, for the mystery!