Summary: God has revealed a mystery - with the revelation comes a responsibility
OPEN: How many here today would say you love a good mystery? I love a good mystery. I love trying to sort through all the clues and pieces of evidence in order to figure out the key, the central truth that explains everything. I don’t know about you, I love reading mystery books trying to figure out who done it. I think that must be a common thing among a lot of us. The entertainment industry seemingly makes its living on “mysteries” Agaitha Christi, Law and Order – CSI – all mystery shows. It seems like half of all the shows on television are “who-done-its.” The other half are documentaries on unsolved crimes, the mystery of the pyramids, mysterious UFO’s and every other “mystery” under the sun. In order for it to be a mystery, there needs to be a seemingly unexplainable situation - something that you can’t figure out without help. If it involves murder, hatred, politics, or romance - it’s all the better
I don’t know what it is, but there are just some things in this world I can’t explain. I don’t try to solve all the great mysteries of the world – I tend to focus more on small mysteries. Do you have any unsolved mysteries in your life? Like why do I have several unmatched single socks. It’s a great mystery. They come off my feet in pairs. They go into the clothes hamper in pairs. I’m fairly sure they go into the washer in pairs. But something happens when they come out of the dryer. Where do all the socks go? It’s an unsolved mystery. I keep a running list of questions that are mysteries for me. Every once in while I run across one and I add it to my mystery file. For example: Can fat people go skinny-dipping? Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons? Why is it necessary to have a locking device on the lid of a coffin? Do vegetarians eat animal crackers? If you wash wool it shrinks, then when it rains why don’t sheep shrink? What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men? How come there aren’t B batteries? If the #2 pencil is so popular, why is it still #2? If fish oil comes from fish, and if olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from? How do they make it? It’s all just a great mystery to me.
In our passage this morning, Paul talks about another kind of mystery. Except, even though this mystery is a part of life, it’s certainly not frustrating. It’s a mystery that’s a blessing that was revealed to him by God.
Paul begins a sentence, says “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--” and then gets sidetracked – gets diverted – and never really finishes the sentence. Did you ever get in trouble in school for writing an incomplete sentence? The teacher scrawls with a big red pen across the page – “incomplete!” and reduces your grade accordingly. The passage begins with just such a sentence. Paul does eventually come back to the thought, and completes it in verse 14, which we’ll look at after mothers day. What sidetracks Paul is the need to explain his role and his responsibility, he talks about being a prisoner of Christ for the sake of the gentiles, and realizes that it would be helpful for his readers to know more about him and what it is that Jesus has told him that is so incredible he was willing to suffer imprisonment and persecution.