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As Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol begins, there is mystery surrounding Ebenezer Scrooge. Why is he so mean-spirited? How did he become so selfish? Then, slowly, as the Christmas spirits marched Scrooge through his own story, things become clearer. We see the influences that changed him from a happy youth into a selfish miser. We observe his isolation and his brokenness. As the mystery is solved, we also glimpse the path to restoration. Concern for others pulls Scrooge from his self-absorbed darkness into a new joy.
A far more important mystery, and one much harder to explain, is that which Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 3:16: “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.” Extraordinary! God “appeared in the flesh.”
The mystery of Christmas is how God could become man while remaining fully God. It defies human explanation, but in the perfect wisdom of God, it was the plan of the ages.
“What child is this?” He is Jesus Christ—God revealed in the flesh.
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary. Traditional carol
God made His home with us so that we might make our home with Him.
The mystery of Christmas is that Jesus came to us as God in the flesh. Those who believe in Him are called the body of Christ, the church. Paul uses various metaphors to describe it. In 1 Timothy 3:15 he refers to the church as “God’s household.” He is saying that God is our Father, Christ is our brother (Heb. 2:11-12), and we are God’s children (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26). Because our Father is the God of truth (John 3:33), because Jesus is the truth (14:6), and because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (15:26), the church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).