The solution to the problem of evil, through the incarnation, is also a mystery. “...[G]reat is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy:3:16).
“God was manifest in the flesh.” What a mystery! God could become a fetus in Mary’s womb? John the Baptist as a six-month-old fetus leapt in the womb of Elizabeth in recognition that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah. Amazing!
“Seen of angels.” These heavenly beings must have watched in astonishment. The One whom they had known as God the Son, one with the Father, for at least 4,000 years by earth time (we know not how much earlier angels were created), was united with a human body growing in the virgin Mary’s womb, soon to be born a babe needing a mother’s milk and care—truly man, yet at the same time truly God. Mystery of mysteries!
“Believed on in the world.” The Apostle John speaks in awe of this One whom “we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us)” (1 John:1:1, 2). In his Gospel, John says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John:1:14).
Yes, “Believed on in the world.” Certainly John believed, as did Paul, that Jesus the Messiah of Israel was truly “God manifest in the flesh.” To be a Christian one must believe that Jesus Christ is God, come as a man to redeem us. What love, to come from so high to stoop so low—to be rejected, hated, misunderstood, mocked, maligned, stripped, scourged, and crucified by those He came to redeem!
“Received up into glory.” His sacrifice accepted by the Father, He is glorified at the “Father’s right hand” and interceding there for us (Romans:8:34). But even before that great meeting in His presence in the Father’s house, “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image...by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians:3:18).
Surely, if the incarnation is the great mystery of godliness, then for us to live godly lives we must have Christ dwelling within us and living His life through us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach...” (Colossians:1:27, 28). This is the “hope of his calling,” which Paul prayed that the Ephesian saints would understand. Peter explains that God “hath called us unto his eternal glory” (1 Peter:5:10). We are going to be like Christ. The glory that the disciples beheld in Christ will be manifested in us!
We are transformed by His Word, the Word of Truth upon which we feed for spiritual nourishment. This is the living Word of God, which, when believed, (1 Peter:1:23-25) creates and nourishes spiritual life.