Posted on Mon, Jan 7, 2013
January 6, 13
The Epiphany of our Lord
Matthew 2:1-12 ―Arise! Shine! For Your Light Has Come!‖
The Visit of the Wise Men
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”’ 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
“Epiphany” is not a word we use very much. The only time I think I can remember a casual time I have heard it used, is when a person has a sudden understanding of clarity. After a sudden UNDERDTANDING, or coming to the LIGHT, they may bonk themselves in the head and say, “I had an Epiphany!” and then they will go on to explain how they suddenly understood the situation and maybe now have a solution to their problem.
In the church, the season of Epiphany is a time we celebrate that, through the baby Jesus born to a human mother, the Truth of God has entered our world. And through that child Jesus, our eyes, ears, hearts and minds will be enlightened to the Truth of God. God is Truth, and Jesus is the Light of the world, shining on that Light and Truth of God in a world that is distracted by selfishness, greed and self-absorption. The world is blind to the goodness and faithfulness of God, until the time when Jesus, the Light of the World, was born and began to preach, proclaim and demonstrate the Truth of God… The Truth of God is that God is all love, all mercy, all grace and all joy. Being and following Jesus is living in that Light and Truth. Knowing that we can live in the Light and Truth of God, THROUGH faith is a true EPIPHANY for us humans.
So my question for is you is, “Is there some kind of Light or Truth that guides your path in this busy and very distracting world?”
We have had a rather difficult year, but through hardships, I was blessed to be forced to ask myself, am I aware, can I really see, what is really going on, 1) in the world? 2) In my life? 3) In my vocation? 4) Within my family? 5) Among friends and acquaintances? 5) Within my own heart? 6) Within my relationship and walk with Jesus?
Is my life illuminated by the Light and Truth of my Savior and Redeemer?
In the time when Jesus was born, it was a violent and frightening time. I don’t think it is a coincidence that much of the Christmas story takes place at night, with the only light spoken about was by stars, the glory of Christ, or the joy of Mary. There was darkness all around, until the Light of the World was born.
Bethlehem was only 7 miles from Jerusalem; at night Jerusalem would literally be a light on the hill as it was a bustling city on top of a small mountain or hill. At night, Bethlehem would be dark as the shadows of hills, invisible to the world where King Herod lived… however, it the day light, even the little town of Bethlehem would be visible from Herod’s palace.
One day some Magi, men learned in the ways of the stars (astrology), the movement of the stars, constellations and the meaning they may posses, came to the doorstep of King Herod’s palace to 1) Enter a foreign land according to protocol an let the local king know that they have entered his country and 2) Get some actual information that might help them in their quest to find the newborn king.
King Herod was a ruthless coward and would even murder his own family to stay in power, so when he heard the words of the magi, he was actually frightened that there was indeed a new king born within his boarders.
When Matthew tells us that the people were also afraid because Herod was afraid, it meant that the people were afraid because they didn't know what a frightened king Herod would do…
Until that time, I am sure Herod never even thought about this little shepherd village, but suddenly verified through his scribes, this little village was now a threat to his rule.
The people could easily see him sending out a contingent of soldiers to just go out and wipe out the village… Do you think he would do something so horrible? The people definitely saw it as a possibility.
He totally lies to those who granted him such honor by their coming to his door and tells them, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
Lies, plotting, more darkness.
I wish I could have Dr. Bob Joseph just stand up and do his amazing talk on the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ as it is just fascinating, but the point is that, according to science, there was something going on in the skies among the stars at that very time. According to the Magi’s understanding of the movement of the constellations, this was a definite sign that a king was to be born. They weren’t kings as much as they were followers of the Stars, followers of the very special light.
They were searching for something grand and wonderful. I and I find it fascinating how God works. If darkness is somehow a symbol of difficulty, maybe even suffering, notice that these wise men, these men searching for Truth, COULD ONLY BE LEAD WHEN THEY WERE SURROUNDED BY DARKNESS.
The light that God provided that was leading these non-Jews, these men probably from the land we know as Iraq and Iran, could only be seen during the darkness.
I remember sitting in so many dark rooms, next to a person dying, or with a loved one caring for a sick or dying friend, child or parent, in the dark, and then hearing the words, “All we can do is pray, all we can do is trust God.” Or, in times of real confusion and catastrophe, I have heard people finally say, “I guess the only thing I have is faith and knowing that God loves me.”
All I can do is nod and say yes, it is in the darkest of times we finally see the Light of God.
“11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Gold is a gift fit only for a king, even if the king is a baby. The frankincense and myrrh is a foreshadow as to the purpose of this birth. Jesus was born to be our Light and Truth; Jesus was born to restore our relationship with our God through His death AND RESURRECTION.
Then, like another hero of the Christmas Story, just like Joseph, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they left the area through a different road.
The Christmas Story is filled with mystery and light. Mystery in that the prophecy of God was fulfilled when the Word became Flesh, and Light in that through the teaching, preaching, ultimate servanthood of Christ, we actually can live in the Light and Life of Christ.
Through the babe, the Light of Christ has come. Let His Light and Life permeate your body, heart and mind all the way to the depths of your soul and let that Light guide you, strengthen you and give you peace all the days of your life. Amen.
No messages have been posted.
You must first create an account to post.