Summary: THE CELEBRATION OF EPIPHANY
January 12, 2014 Sunday Sermon. By Okoye Benjamin . E
Theme: The Manifestation of Christ To the Gentiles.
In order to properly address the Theme: The Manifestation of Christ To the Gentiles, we must have a good understanding of the key words; Manifestation and Gentiles.
Manifestation could be defined as an indication of existence, reality of presence of something.
It is one of the forms in which someone or something such as a person, a divine being or an idea is revealed.
An event, action or object that clearly shows or embodies something abstract or theoretical.
Who are the Gentiles?
The Bible is a sacred text for both Jews and Christians. It divides the world’s people into Israelites and Gentiles. Gentiles are not a specific group of people, nationality or ethnicity. Instead a Gentile is any person who is not an Israelite. Gentiles appear in the Bible as friends, foes and potential religious converts. It simply means nation. A word used for both Israelites and non-Israelites alike.
However, several passages in the Bible such as Deut 15:6, Deut 28:12 and Num 14:12, specifically used it for non-Israelite nations and it became another word for strangers. The Gentiles were any non-Israelites, such as Egyptians, Philistines and Assyrians.
The theme as a whole:
The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles is referred to in the Christian world as Epiphany.
Epiphany, also known as ‘’The Three Kings Day’’ AND ‘’Twelfth Day’’, is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ His Son.
The word epiphany means ‘’manifestation’’ or ‘’revelation’’ or ‘’showing forth’’. It is also called Theophany (manifestation of God). It commemorates the first two occasions on which the divinity of Christ according to Christian belief was manifested. The Church used epiphany to replace certain pagan festivals of old.
Epiphany is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the Visit of the wise men (Magi) to the infant Christ. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the Gentiles. Mathew 2:1-2, the magi were probably men from Iran, who are members of a learned religious class. Take note that Iran is not part of Israel. They are part of the Gentile nations.
The visit of the magi was important for two main reasons;
1.It shows that Jesus is worthy of honour from all humanity, both Israelites and Gentiles.
2.It shows that both Israelites and Gentiles are included in God’s redemptive plan. (Mathew 8:11, 28:19 and Romans 10:12).
In Eastern Christianity, epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son.
In His baptism, Christ identified with sinful humanity and gave an example to His followers.
The Holy Trinity was in action – the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, the Son, and God the Father made the declaration affirming the relationship. (1 John 5:7).
The genealogy of Christ was traced to Adam. This identified Jesus with Human race.
Note that Christ had a virgin birth. By tracing Him back to human race, it is a clear indication or identification of CHRIST. It is a revelation of God as man through incarnation. i.e a manifestation of Christ as both man and God, a required qualification for the work of redemption of a degenerate man. Christ was therefore manifested as the Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us.
Likewise, on epiphany, some denominations commemorate Jesus miracle of turning water into wine signifying manifestation of Christ divinity as well.
Who then is Christ to You?
Know it today that as Christians, God’s elects, the Lord’s Chosen, the redeemed, we are the Israelites of our time. The description of Israelite relationship with the Gentiles varies throughout the Bible. For example, Leviticus 19:33-34 and Exodus 22:21 remind the Israelites that they were once foreigners in Egypt and should treat foreigners as equals. Leviticus 24:22 commands the Israelites to have one law for both natives and foreigners. The books attributed to prophets Micah and Zachariah describe people of every nation becoming worshipers of one true God. However, the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah commanded the Israelites to divorce their gentile wives.
Our gentile wives are the various sins we commit, even though we claim to be Christians. Most of us are married in one way or the other to sin. Lev 19:33-36 and Exodus 22:21-22,25
Conclusion: The greatest glory of God, a lesson we must learn.
The greatest ‘’glory’’ or ‘’manifestation of the Almighty God’’ recorded in the Bible is God’s dwelling in the Temple. The reason this glory surpasses all others mentioned in scripture is because it speaks of God’s ‘’taking up His Residence’’ INSIDE A PERSON. Jesus came and died for us. By dying on the Cross (as a substitute for you and me), He took OUR inescapably eventual death away. Since he died my death, I don’t have to die again and I am now eternally ALIVE. But more than that, when I trust that, what Jesus did for me on the Cross, God himself ‘’moves in’’ inside me. In His Spirit, He lives within me, JUST LIKE HE DWELT IN THE TEMPLE. Everyone who has confidence in what Jesus accomplished becomes a ‘’Temple’’ in which God lives. What is important is not trying to convince