by Gabe Bernal
Read Colossians 1:24-2:5
Reread it again.
We continue this week after a beautiful exclamation of Jesus and his goodness, supremacy, and preeminence over all things. It has been called the Messianic Poem because of the beautiful language used to describe Jesus.
But more than beautiful language, the Messianic Poem is truth. Truth that Paul will continue to build on during the writing of this entire letter to the Colossians.
Do you have a favourite mystery book, TV show, or movie?
Why is it your favourite?
One of my favourite TV shows is Lost. I loved the mystery of it all. The mystery of the island, the mystery of who these people were, the mystery of how they got there. Each episode seemed to present new and compelling questions.
I remember after each episode, I would talk about what happened with my other friends who watched. We would discuss endlessly on our theories. And let me tell you, there were tonnes of theories.
We definitely got more wrong than right, but that is what makes a good mystery, right? Who wants to read a mystery where you can predict everything before it happens.
Sometimes, it seems, trying to figure out God can be a mystery. He is so vast, so deep, completely boundless, entirely eternal, how can we as mortals on this earth every hope to understand eternity?
But luckily, we have a way to understand the "mystery hidden for ages" (v26a). And in this passage, unlike our favourite mystery story, the word "mystery" does not mean riddle. It is translated from the Greek word "mysterion" which means something that was previously unknown and needed to be disclosed.
Theologian David Guzik puts it this way, "It is a truth that can only be known by revelation and not by intuition. But it can be known because it 'now has been revealed to His saints' (v26b)."
This idea is important because the word 'mystery' in this time points towards the idea that this can be uncovered. Remember, the church in Colossae is struggling with false teachings, and we talked last time about one of the possible offenders was a group called the "Gnostic" Christians. They claimed that we needed special knowledge granted to us to truly know God or Jesus.
As we move forward into uncovering this "mystery," keep in mind that Paul wants to teach the church of Colossae, and anyone who reads this letter, how we can discover the mystery ourselves.
So join me as we continue into this passage to uncover the mystery. A mystery that eluded so many in the past, and still remains out of grasp for many more.
You may have already noticed, but some reoccurring themes come back from time to time in this letter.
Last week, when we examined verse 19, we talked about how in Jesus, we can see the fullness of God. Now again, in verse 25-26, we are seeing Paul say that in Jesus, God can be fully known.
This was given to Paul, but it is not any kind of special knowledge because, in verse 26, Paul says this is now revealed to the saints. To all believers. In verse 27, he says "how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery."
This is not special knowledge that is bestowed on to Paul and Paul alone. This is not private knowledge that only followers of Paul or the apostles are allowed to have. This is also not exclusive in that is available only to the Jews. This knowledge is not only accessible but freely given to all people who wish to accept it.
Let's try and put this into some modern context.
Most of the world believes Christianity is a western religion. But we as Christians know this is not true, Acts 1:8 says "go to the ends of the earth." Matthew 28 says "make disciples of all nations."
Maybe it's not race or ethnicity that is a roadblock, some believe Jesus is only good people can come to Jesus. They've done or said things they are ashamed of. Or maybe they just think they aren't a good enough person. But Jesus was a friend of sinners. It didn't matter what people did, Jesus made himself available to them.
Have there been things in your life that you feel like has kept you from God?
Are there things you've done that you are afraid couldn't be forgiven?
It doesn't matter where you are from or what your ethnicity is. It doesn't matter if you are near or far from God. The knowledge of the mystery of God is available to everyone.
The Mystery Revealed
Okay, Gabe, what is the mystery?!
That's what we want out our favourite mystery story, isn't it? Whodunit? What's the solution? What is causing the conflict? We want to discover what is hidden, I totally understand. Well, it's right there in verse 27.
"... the glory of His mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
This is the reason Paul says earlier that the mystery was "hidden for ages." Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc. All the "heroes" of the faith in Hebrews 11 didn't have this part of the mystery revealed to them. This doesn't mean their faith and deeds mean any less, in fact, it may mean the opposite. They still had faith despite the mystery still being hidden.
But now, Christ reveals the fullness of God, Christ fulfils the Law, and in Christ, we have the hope of glory.
This adds to what we said about "Saints" in part 2 of the blog. As saints, we are "faithful brethren," as saints we are believers in Christ, as saints, we are "faithful brethren." But more than that as saints, we all have the abiding presence of Jesus dwelling in us.
What does it mean to you that you have Christ dwelling in you?
What does it look like to live in a way that you have Christ in you?
These are significant truths we can't overlook.
We can't forget that not only that Christ is in us, but that this knowledge is freely given to anyone and not just for a select few.
Why? Again, we need to remember why Paul wrote this letter. Yes, it is to strengthen the truth in your heart that Christ is supreme, but Paul also wrote this so that we can combat false teachings.
In verse 4 of chapter 2, Paul states that "I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments."
First, we can overlook the fact that Paul even says that these false teaching will seem plausible. They will make some sense. But as I've been pointing out to you since the beginning, if we don't know what the gospel is, we will be tricked by counterfeits.
In the states, especially in the southwest, we have a really peculiar creature. It's a bit of an oddity, but many in the region know this animal well. It's called the Jackalope. The name is a combination of the words jackrabbit and antelope. Knowing that I'm sure then you can deduce that a Jackalope is basically just a rabbit with antlers.
No joke, you can google it. You will find images of the creature and everything. The Jackalope is legendary in the Southwest United States. Poems, television shows, even a film have been created about the creature.
The thing is, the Jackalope is not a real animal. It was a creation of taxidermists in Wyoming in the 1930s. But for the longest time, many people believed it's real. And for people who are not familiar with the Jackalope (usually people not from the Southwest US), they can often be convinced that it is real by friends.
There are lots of animals that have horns, why can't certain rabbits? I've heard lots of stories of strange critters that roam different parts of the world. Oh wait, there are monuments and statues of this creature?
Yes, it's weird, but it's just plausible enough for someone who doesn't know otherwise to be convinced it's real.
The point of making or believing in "plausible arguments" is they do sound good, they may even make some sense. But the truth is they are lies. Plain and simple.
That's the danger of plausible arguments. And that's why I urged us when I started this blog that the best way to protect against things like this is to learn about what is true.
I'll never be able to convince a zoologist or American hunter that a jackalope is real, they've seen and know enough to not be fooled. But some stockbroker from New York City... I may have a shot with him.
It's not because he's stupid. It's because, in that particular area of knowledge, he has less familiarity or awareness.
What was something you thought was real until you
How have you grown in your discernment since you first followed Jesus?
First, a beautifully written poem that plainly presents the gospel then is followed up by the revelation of the knowledge of the mystery of the gospel, Paul is going full throttle into this letter to the church in Colossae.
Christ is sufficient.
No matter who is reading this letter, this is what Paul wants us to remember:
Remember Paul affirmed Jesus as "author of creation," and as "king of kings" in the Messianic Poem. In this passage, Paul also affirms Jesus in who this gospel is for and what it is all about:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" - John 3:16
This gospel is for all people! And it's not about special knowledge, it's about a man who is the fullness, the image, and the manifestation of God on Earth, Jesus!
It will always be about Jesus!
It will never stop being about Jesus!
And that same Jesus indwells in you.
Anything else is just fool's gold.
Once again - If there is anything during your discussion or journaling as you went through those questions that you found encouraging, .. let me know! I'm no expert, and this blog is definitely not exhaustive. I am learning as much as you and would love to hear how God spoke to you through this passage.
What sticks out to you?
Did you learn something new about Jesus? About yourself?
- Thank you for your son Jesus and the good news of the cross.
- Thank you this knowledge is freely given and available for all.