Celebrate Jesus: The Incarnation
Series Text: 1 Tim. 3:16
And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.
Around the turn of the Century, Albert Schweitzer wrote The Quest of the Historical Jesus. While challenging the conclusions of "19th Century liberalism" about the historicity of Jesus, he wrote the following: "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb." (Schweitzer, p. 398) In short, Schweitzer did not believe as Peter affirmed, that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God," rather he would simply say this Jesus was a good teacher, an ethical man, but that He was not fully God and fully man.
In today's text, Paul speaks of "the mystery of godliness." He does not confine himself to the linear logic of the western culture, nor the processes of scientific rationalism. Instead, he speaks of the effectual work Jesus as a "mystery." Something only those who have experienced Him can know.
In Col. 2:1-3 NASB, Paul wrote: "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,  that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Some would say, allow me to put Jesus in a test tube, analyze Him, then I will believe. Yet Paul indicates that only those that believe have real understanding. The sceptic says, seeing is believing, the man of faith says, believing is seeing. After his conversation with Thomas, the Risen Lord said, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:29 NASB)
Part of the "mystery" is that Jesus Christ was fully God, and yet fully man, or as Paul put it, "He who was revealed in the flesh," John, the beloved disciple began his gospel with these words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1 NASB) And a few verses later he wrote, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," (John 1:14a) John affirmed the mystery. The eternal God became flesh. Notice the word John used to describe Jesus the Word or the Logos.
According to Aristotle, three things convinced men: the ethos (personal character of the speaker) the pathos (persuasion from within) and the logos (the proof) The logos, to the Greek mind, was the ultimate proof or the final word.
The Apostle John did not write, "in the beginning was the ethos," nor did he write "in the beginning was the pathos," rather, he said, "in the beginning was the Logos the ultimate proof the final Word!" Neither did he say the ethos became flesh or that the pathos became flesh, instead he used the terminology that said Jesus, the "final argument the ultimate proof," became flesh.
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