The word “gospel” means “good news.” Mystery, of course, means something that’s hidden…until it’s revealed. The good news of Jesus Christ – that He would forgive our sins and take us to heaven when we die – was hidden in the Old Testament. By that I mean that it was all described, but not in a way that anyone could figure it out. It was God’s riddle. Only when Jesus was raised from the dead did He begin to unveil what had been hidden for so long (the Old Testament scriptures had been variously written from 400 to 1,500 years before He was born).
A good riddle consists of a set of clues that seem to contradict, and, for that reason, seem to defy solution. Yet, once the answer is revealed, everyone says, “Of course! That’s the only possible answer!” Such was the case with the mystery of the gospel of Messiah (the Hebrew word for the Greek word “Christ”). The Old Testament had hundreds of clues, some pointing this way, some pointing that. There were many conflicting interpretations. However, once Jesus was raised from the dead, and then ascended into heaven, puzzle pieces started falling into place. People reading the prophecies had wondered how a suffering Messiah could be reconciled with a glorious Messiah. The answer was now clear: the suffering would occur on earth, the glorification would occur in heaven. Similarly, people had wondered if there would ever be a resurrection of the dead, and, if so, how would it work when, for example, a widower remarried (with which wife would he be in the resurrection?). The answer to this part of the riddle was that resurrection wasn’t going to be back to earth, but rather all the way to heaven. In heaven, we’ll be like angels living eternally. Therefore, marriage is unnecessary and there is therefore no male-female distinction.
One of the big remaining aspects of the puzzle was still present as the New Testament was being written: how would Messiah’s power and authority be reconciled with God’s. There was God’s Son, the Messiah – and then there was God Himself. How would their respective roles be sorted out when the kingdom came, and what would Jesus’ Second Coming be like? The answer came in just the way that answers to riddles come: in stunning awareness. In this case, the resolution was that Messiah…was…God. That is, Jesus had been God in heaven before He became Jesus on earth. After His ascension, and in the Second Coming, He became again God in heaven. His Second Coming was not in the flesh, but rather in the spirit. The whole process was invisible to physical eyes, but understood by those who believed the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments.
The mystery of the gospel was all for our good. It is now our privilege to share its glory with each other, praising God for His unsearchable wisdom and vastness of power. That He would redeem us sinners through a resurrection that would bring us to be with Him in heaven is more staggeringly wonderful than anything we could have imagined or had the nerve to request from Him!