“This is the great mystery of our faith.”
Candle Lighter: “Christ was revealed…”
Response: “…in a human body.”
Scripture: I Timothy 3:16
16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:
Christ was revealed in a human body
and vindicated by the Spirit.
He was seen by angels
and announced to the nations.
He was believed in throughout the world
and taken to heaven in glory.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Today we turn from the attention on the Second Coming to the wonder of the Incarnation. One of the theological themes of advent is the Incarnation of the Son of God. In this letter to Timothy, Paul is again dealing with the challenge of erroneous teaching. This particular passage may well be one of the hymn texts of the early church. It’s structure is in contrast to the surrounding content. It would appear that several of the passages in the New Testament are actually texts of hymns sung in the early church. Note how compact each phrase is and how much theology is packed into it. It has been said the average person learns as much theology from what he or she sings as they do from the Bible. (Dangerous, but probably true, which is why it is vitally important to note the content of the hymns and worship songs we sing in worship today.) Let’s look at the text. Think of yourself as hearing all of this for the first time whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. Jesus Messiah was revealed having come from God in a human body! This had never happened in all of history. It is a one time only event and it happened thirty to thirty-five years ago. Though he was killed, the Holy Spirit of God vindicated him in his resurrection from the dead. The God-person was killed and brought back to life. His being seen by angels points out his sovereign rule in the heavenly realm. Jesus’ authority is not only over the earth (“and announced to the nations”) but also over all the beings in the heavenly realm. His mission extends to all the world. He ascended to heaven being received in great glory by the heavenly hosts there to await his return in the Father’s timing to establish his eternal kingdom. This passage is a marvelous example of the entire ministry of Jesus being outlined in six short lines from his birth to his Return at the end of the age. If you are not in the habit, study the theology of the carols and songs you sing this advent season. It’s important to sing the truth.
Good Lord, in this season of singing carols, may we sing that which is true and may we believe what we sing. We sing of the miraculous―Jesus, you humbled yourself and became a fully human being, as human as we are. We sing of the mysterious—how you revealed yourself in a human body is wondrous and beyond our understanding. We sing of the magnificent heavenly host―beings whose singing to the shepherds that glorious night we can only imagine. We sing of the matchless Good News to all peoples and nations―the Savior of the world has come to bring redemption to his entire created order. There is salvation for all. Our thrice holy God, there is none like you and we bow in prayer and adoration. Receive our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
― Daniel Sharp
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