Summary: For those in peace or those in turmoil, the Word of God speaks to us as we pass through the time of this failing age until we reach the Age that never ends.
When you receive a gift, you normally say “Thank you” for the gift you just received. And it’s after that when you open the gift to see what it is. It’s then that you delight in what you received. If the gift is clothing, you wear it; if it’s a game, you play it; if it’s food, you eat it.
It’s the same way with God’s gifts to us, which is what Epiphany is all about. Epiphany is God unfolding and revealing His earlier Christmas gift to us. But His gift is different from any other you receive. For in His gift to us, the gift He gives us is Himself. God gives us His heart and mind, His goodwill and love, and His mercy and unflinching resolve to make us His special people forever. Now that’s a gift!
Yes today, the day we celebrate Epiphany, we celebrate God giving us His Gift, and even unwrapping His Gift that we may see what It is. But even more, we celebrate how we are to delight in the Gift He gives us.
God says, “Arise! Shine! Your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines over you.” By the light of the star over 2,000 years ago, the Wise Men find the object of their search, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. They gave to Him the worship they are to give only to God. They were led, no longer to walk in their own self-made gods, but to walk instead in the Light, the Light, Jesus Christ Himself.
And today, it’s the same for you. God leads you by the light of His written, revealed Word to bring you to the true Light, His Son, Jesus Christ. It is as Isaiah says, “Arise! Shine! Your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines over you.”
The Wise Men who came to see Jesus were intelligent and learned. They may have even known of God’s promised Messiah foretold in the Old Testament from the time of Israel’s exile in Babylon. And so it makes sense that these Wise Men looked for Jesus in Jerusalem. Why wouldn’t the King of the Jews be born in Jerusalem? That’s the epicenter of Judaism.
But Jerusalem wasn’t where God had chosen to unwrap His gift of salvation for the world. And so when God’s holy prophecies further captivated the Wise Men, they again followed the star, but this time to Bethlehem. The star, which the Holy Scriptures had made even brighter and clearer, led them to God’s Son!
It’s the same with us. From His grace, made real to us in Jesus, God shows us His heart and mind. This grace of God, which first drew the Wise Men to Jesus, also draws us to Jesus. For by God’s grace, He creates faith in us, the faith that worships Him by receiving His grace through His Son, Jesus.
But are we, today, merely spectators to these Gentiles who became worshipers of the living God? If that’s the case, that Epiphany is nothing but us remembering the Wise Men coming to see Jesus in Bethlehem, how sad it would be, indeed!
For Epiphany is not just some event in history, some 2,000 years old. Epiphany is also for right here and right now. Today, God still calls out to His fallen creatures, where His grace reaches out to our ears and eyes. The revealing of God’s glory, which the angels sung on Christmas night, is preached to you this day, here and now, in this place. For every Sunday is to be an Epiphany, a revealing of Jesus Christ.
God still calls His people to bend the knee in adoration and worship. In the revealing of His Son, God welcomes you, invites you, to come to His Son who was born in Bethlehem. In your ears, He sounds the words that knock at the eardrums of your heart, inviting you to see Him in His body, this Jesus who presents Himself to us. This altar is His manger, his feed box--not for cattle or sheep--but for pitiful sinners, lost, troubled in the darkness of a world that neither knows, nor fears, nor loves Him.
God openly shows His heart to us in His Son, Jesus, the Child born of Mary. Jesus is the promised descendant of David. Crucified in weakness and shame, He is raised in power and publicly preached to the whole world, for the whole world. Jesus was suspended on the cross, on the hill between heaven and earth, to join fallen humanity in Himself to God as one, holy, and newly created people.
This saving work was always on God’s mind, even when hidden under the Law, even when training Israel toward the fullness of time. And when the time was right, Jesus was born to fulfill what all the Israelites of old, and even ourselves, could not do. And Jesus is still here to bring Jew and Gentile, religious and nonreligious, into His body, into His Kingdom, into Himself!