Summary: God’s grace is revealed in his Word. His Word leads us to worship him with our lives.
When was your last “epiphany”? “What’s an epiphany?” you might ask. Well, an epiphany is one of those moments in life when something profound is revealed to you. For example, when Albert Einstein conceived the mathematical equation, E=MC2, that was, to him, an epiphany. Something new was revealed.
We have epiphanies all of the time. Each day we learn new things about ourselves and the world around us. Ours might not have as great an impact as, perhaps, Einstein’s theory of relativity, but they are epiphanies –revelations—all the same.
Today, we hear about the Epiphany. It’s the story of how God revealed himself to the gentiles (non-Jews) of the world. Today, we learn of GOD’S EPIPHANY: HIS GRACE REVEALED. We see God reveals his grace 1) In His Word. We also see that God reveals his grace 2) In Our Lives.
1) In His Word
This is a very familiar Bible story. In fact, it’s one that has been embellished quite a bit. For example, we all know that there were three wise men, right? Wrong. The Bible says nothing about the number of magi, just the kinds of gifts they brought. We also know that they were kings from the Orient, right? Wrong, again. All we know is that these men came from somewhere in the east, probably from Babylon or Persia (modern day Iraq & Iran). We need to be careful not to say more than the Bible does. After all, this is God’s epiphany, his revelation. Let’s allow him to speak. What God does tell us in his Word is that “magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” The word “magi” is an interesting word. The word literally means “wise man.” The term is also used to describe people who were astrologers, magicians, sorcerers, pagan priests, and involved with the occult.
When you think about it, these don’t sound like very “wise” men. They were involved in things that were not pleasing to God. So, the question is this: how did these foreigners know to look for the Savior? The answer: they had God’s Word. Remember, the term “magi” was a word used in ancient Babylon. We know that the Jews had long before been taken to Babylon in exile because of their idolatry against the Lord. Among those Jews was Daniel. We hear about Daniel in the Old Testament. What we know is that Daniel worked with other magi, or wise men, in Babylon and often helped them out. He was their friend. A faithful believer like Daniel would have definitely told his new friends in Babylon about the coming Savior. And so, years passed, but Daniel’s message remained. These particular magi had heard the good news concerning the King of the Jews.
Now, it’s obvious the Magi didn’t have all the facts. Their faith and understanding was weak and limited to say the least. In fact, where do we find them looking for answers? They turn to the stars. Some would say they were turning to their pagan beliefs concerning astrology. That may be true to a point. Yet, they looked to the sky because they were convinced a sign was there. The Magi believed the truth was in the stars.
Notice how God used a star to pull the Magi to see his glory revealed. The Lord was patient and gracious with these gentiles. He gave them a sign they could follow for the moment. In his own way, God used a special star to let these wise men know that a special king had been born. After all, this is the Lord of the universe in control of this situation. All the stars, planets, and galaxies serve his purpose. At creation, God decreed a star be set in the sky for these Magi. And in doing so, the Lord fulfilled his own promises spoken by Isaiah: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
God led the Magi on to see his great epiphany. He led them straight to Jerusalem, the capital city. They went from street to street inquiring the birth of the new king. What must have puzzled the Magi is that everyone in Jerusalem seemed to be in the dark concerning Jesus’ birth. King Herod eventually catches the news and then some answers are found. Finally, the chief priests and scribes are summoned. They give quick answer to the Magi’s question: “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is was the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
So, how did the Magi find Christ? The star didn’t provide all the answers. God’s Word did. These Magi left their homes seeking truth in a star. They were basing their travels on a bit of information that had been passed down to them. Theirs was a simple faith, established and solidified by God’s Word. God was patient with these men. He blessed them. His Word provided them with all the answers they needed.