You may also listen to this 4-minute devotional by clicking here
John 1:1-3 (ESV) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Mystery novels or detective shows can be a lot of fun from time to time. When digging into the plot, great satisfaction can be found by fitting the pieces together before a solution is revealed by the author. While at the same time, it can be a little frustrating when a conclusion leaves part of the plot open-ended.
In many ways, humans yearn for resolution. We may appreciate some mysteries in life, but answers keep us moving forward.
When people open the pages of the Scripture, they are commonly searching for answers to questions like “How can I make sense of this experience I am having?” Certainly, through God’s inspired word, we can better understand ourselves and our world. We can find lasting hope and be stirred towards an abiding relationship with the Jesus.
However, some portions of the Bible can lead us into greater, unsolvable mysteries.
In John 1, we are taught that Jesus (known as the Word of God) is God. Yet, He is also with God. A mystery has been set before us. How can Jesus ‘be’ God and ‘be with’ God at the same time?
Very intelligent Early Church fathers like Iraneus, Tertullian and Athanasius wrestled over this question by digging into Scripture. They observed that from the very beginning, God referred to himself in the plural form. “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26a). Then God proceeded to inspire Moses to declare that, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4). The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy” (Lk 1:35). Notice the various persons? Yet, after Jesus was born, the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14a). Then, consider Jesus’ own words when He said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things” (Jn 14:26a) and “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30).
Church leaders discerned Bible passages like these and summarized the mystery like this: God is one in essence but three in persons. In this way, the doctrine of the Trinity was defined.
There are several spiritual dangers in setting aside the mystery of God’s nature for something easier to solve. For example, Christians don’t worship three gods (Father, Son and Spirit). No, the Lord is one! Nor does Scripture teach that God just took different forms throughout human history with Jesus being His most relatable and ‘loving’ form.
Whether or not you have thought about this before, the Advent season sets the mystery of God’s triune nature right before us through the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:6, “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, giving Him the name which means ‘God with us.’”
The Trinity is a mystery that we cannot resolve. However, we can take great joy in knowing that God loved us so much that He came as a human so we could experience something far more concrete: the forgiveness of our sins and life led by His Spirit.
Thank you Father! Through Jesus, Amen.