A single blog post cannot convey the glorious gravity and intoxicating beauty of the gospel. Its scope is too vast; its depth is too deep. The gospel isn’t simply a spoke in the wheel of the world. The gospel is the hub upon which all reality turns. For Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:15-20). The gospel, then, is the final frontier; there is always more to explore. All that follows simply scratches the surface.

The gospel begins with God. In Isaiah 46:9-10, “God says, ‘I am the Lord and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done’ saying, ‘My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” God discloses two truths about Himself. He possesses unfathomable knowledge and unstoppable power.

Not many people object to God’s unfathomable knowledge. If God is God, then it stands to reason that He knows all things. C. S. Lewis said, “Anyone who believes in God knows that He knows the future.” Nor do many people object to God’s unstoppable power. People tend to concede that if God is God then He can accomplish any purpose.

The struggle of the human heart usually resides elsewhere. Fundamentally, we wonder if God can be trusted. How will He leverage His unfathomable knowledge and unstoppable power? Will He do so towards our ruin or redemption?

The gospel, then, draws our attention to the person of Jesus. The all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe assumed humanity and identified with His created order. In the person of Jesus, God simultaneously reveals and conceals Himself. Jesus is fully God. What is true of God is true of Him. At the same time, Jesus is fully human. And so what is true of us—aside from our sin—is true of Him.

Had God not concealed Himself in the humanity of Jesus the world wouldn’t have been able to handle His arrival. When a cohort of soldiers arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, they asked for Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 18:5), emphasizing his unintimidating humanity. Jesus responded by pulling back the veil of his humanity revealing a glimpse of His deity, saying, “I am he” (Jn. 18:5). The soldiers drew back and fell to the ground. (Jn. 18:6). To everyone’s surprise, Jesus employed the name God revealed to Moses from the burning bush (Ex. 3:14). The holy presence in the burning bush was present in the person of Jesus. Such divine self-disclosure exposes the frailty of our humanity.

Rudolf Otto conducted a cross-cultural study on people’s experiences with God. He labeled what they all shared in common as the Mysterium Tremendum–“terrifying mystery.” A non-Christian author echoed Otto’s findings: “The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come too suddenly face to face with the Mysterium Tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the incompatibility between human egotism and the divine purity, between humanity’s self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God.”

Encountering God is traumatic. This dynamic isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. Consider how we tend to build our self-image or glory upon various performances, achievements, and accolades. When we encounter someone with a greater glory, we experience a type of trauma. Our self-image breaks down.

In high school, I knew a guy who built his glory on the baseball field. He was a good player, groomed from a young age to play college ball. His self-image wasn’t prepared to encounter someone greater. His senior year, a freshman phenom joined the team. At age 15, the kid was a genetic freak—6’3”, 250 pounds. Today, he’s a Defensive Tackle in the NFL. He took the senior’s starting position, unraveling his fragile self-image.

Imagine how much more dramatic this dynamic is when a human encounters the greater glory of Holy God. Suddenly, the prophet Isaiah’s experience makes more sense. After encountering God, he responded, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Is. 6:5). Peter responds in a similar fashion after glimpsing the glory of God in the person of Jesus: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8).

Encountering God is an exercise in contrasts. His holiness reveals our unholiness. We cannot handle immediate to exposure God. Our relationship with God must be mediated—hence, God’s wisdom in simultaneously revealing and concealing Himself in the fully human, fully divine person of Jesus, who remains the one mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5).

Knowing all that would happen to Him, Jesus still presented Himself to be crucified. Certainly, Jesus could have leveraged his unstoppable power to vanquish the cohort of soldiers. Instead, He showed merciful restraint by allowing them to return to their feet and fulfill their objective.

In Christ, we find that God leverages His unfathomable knowledge and His unstoppable power towards our redemption rather than our ruin. Fully aware of what He would endure on the cross, Jesus surrendered Himself. Fully capable of fending off His captors, Jesus restrained Himself, choosing rather to take our place on the cross of condemnation.

Yet, we shrink back from the Savior’s substitution. Like Peter, we do not see the necessity of Jesus’s sacrifice and so we try and defend Jesus (Jn. 18:10). And, like Peter, we receive His redemptive rebuke: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (Jn. 18:11). In the Old Testament, the cup represents God’s wrath poured out against sin (Job 21:20; Ezekiel 23:32-34; Is. 51:17; Ps. 75:8).

As He drank the cup of His Father’s wrath, Jesus became most like us by taking our sin upon Himself and accepting the punishment we deserved (2 Cor. 5:21). On the cross, Jesus was ruined for our redemption. Rather than shrinking back in pride, let’s respond with the humility of repentance and faith.

The gospel insists that we repent of our proud self-delusion, recognize our frailty in light of God’s infinity, turn our attention to the person of Jesus, and trust in his substitutionary death on the cross—a death that has redemptive relevance not only for us but for the entire cosmos (Col. 1:19-20).

We know this because Jesus’s tomb did not remain sealed. He rose from the grave, vindicated as the eternal mediator and reconciler of the cosmos.

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