Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Mystery of Christ (Romans 16:17-27)

"… the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began … (Rom. 16:25b).

Jesus Christ entered the stage of history surrounded by mystery. Christ Himself called the kingdom of God a mystery (Mark 4). Paul spoke of the “mystery of Christ” in his letters to the Colossians and Ephesians. One picture of what is meant by this “mystery” can be found in Rev. 5. When an angel asked, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” no one on heaven or earth could be found. Then one of the elders said, “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” The elder addressed Christ as the Lion of Judah, but when John looked for this king he saw a Lamb, “looking as if it had been slain.” Herein lies the mystery of the Messiah—that while the people of Israel looked for a triumphant king, Christ died on a cross to save sinners. They didn’t heed the prophecies of Isaiah, who told of the suffering servant who would bear painful stripes for His people, who would die to set them free—both Jews and Gentiles.

This mystery confounded even the disciples. Peter himself did not believe Jesus would die as He said He would. In fact, he sought to rebuke Jesus when the Lord said He must be killed (Matt. 16:20–23). Peter did not understand the mystery of the Gospel or the true reason for the coming of the Messiah. The disciples could not understand that the Messiah could be a servant, that the King could die a tortuous death at the hands of the Romans, that the Lion of Judah could be the Lamb that was slain. Only after Peter stood before Calvary did he grasp the essence of his confession at Caesarea: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Christ did not come to set the people free from the heavy rule of the Romans. He did not come as a mighty warrior or an earthly king. Though He was much more than this, He came as one who “had no beauty or majesty to attract us.… He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.… He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.… He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:2–5).

Why is the death of Christ necessary for salvation? How would you explain the “mystery of Christ” to an unbeliever? What about Christ would that person need to know to put his or her faith in Christ? Thank God that He has revealed the mystery of Christ to you and has given you ears to hear.