It’s official… Robert Downey Jr. is more than Iron Man. He’s actor man and mega kudos to him for bringing back one of the coolest characters in all of literary history: Sherlock Holmes.
If you didn’t know, the tales of this incredible detective’s adventures have been around for over 120 years. Way, waaaay before your grandparents were born, super sleuth Sherlock Holmes was on the case, mystifying folks with his incredible intellectual prowess and bringing the bad guys down to Chinatown.
Now in 2009, he hits the big screen with not only brains, but also mad, Chuck-Norris skills that he uses to bring an extra slice of beat-down on his adversaries.
Isn’t there a bit of Sherlock Holmes in all of us? Think about it - shows like CSI, House, heck even Blue’s Clues (we just figured out Blue’s clues!) captivate us by getting our brains humming to see if we can solve the mystery before the characters.
(Well, maybe not Blue’s Clues… Not that I *cough cough* watch it or anything… But you get my point, right?)
So in the grand tradition of Sherlock Holmes and the satisfaction of solving mysteries that feel like a splinter in your mind, I present to you the grandest mystery of all… one that involves tragedy and triumph, action and adventure, and most importantly, life and death.
The game is afoot!
We find our first clue in a conversation that took place thousands of years ago, when the first man and woman on earth made the biggest mistake in the universe. They disobeyed God’s one and only rule, and brought physical and spiritual death to all humanity. But look closely at what God tells Satan in the midst of this:
Then the LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:14-15).
At first glance, it looks like snakes and people just won’t get along to well – Duh! But notice God refers to “her offspring.” This is the only time God refers to Eve’s descendant, not Adam’s. Why? And what does He mean with the whole “strike your head” and “strike his heel” thing?
The next two clues come from songs written by one of the greatest Kings of Israel, David:
My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.
I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice for my clothing (Psalm 22:16-18).
(This sounds like a death scene, but how could David write this if he were dead?)
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave (Psalm 16:10).
(Wait a second…does David really think he’ll live forever?)
The final clue comes from a great prophet of God named Isaiah:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).
OK, now the mystery has gone to a whole new level… A virgin has a child? Also, “Immanuel” literally means “God with us” – as in, God in the flesh. What does that mean?
Confused as to how all those fit together? Perhaps not, because for many, the case has been solved. But think about the people who lived before Jesus came. They had no idea that Jesus was a descendant of Eve, not Adam, through the Holy Spirit and borne of a virgin. They didn’t know that he hadn’t inherited the sinful nature that the rest of the human race inherited from Adam, their representative. They also didn’t know that death on the cross is the only form of execution that bruises your heel. And yes, Jesus crushed the power of Satan when He defeated death.
And David’s songs? He was prophesying that Jesus’ hands and feet would be “pierced,” that soldiers would gamble for His clothes, and that Jesus wouldn’t stay in the grave…
All of which took place exactly as predicted.
What about Isaiah’s prophecy? It had been revealed to him that Jesus would be both God and human. Jesus was God in the flesh, God walking around on earth, eating, drinking, sleeping. And because he was fully human, he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, because he was “tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Aren’t you glad the gospel isn’t a mystery anymore? The case has been solved and your greatest enemies - death and Satan - have been totally defeated. This is elementary, my dear reader. If you have trusted Christ as your only hope of salvation, you have hope for this life and paradise in the life to come.
But there are many who have yet to solve the mystery of their depression, guilt, loneliness, and despair. They are held captive by the enemy. So now it’s your turn to join the adventure and help them find the solution every soul longs to discover.
The gospel is afoot!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Ask your friends if they know about all the clues God gave us in the Bible about Jesus. There are over 300 of them - so you have plenty of material for conversations about the incredible mystery that was solved on the Cross!
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him… (Romans 16:24-26).
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).