Reader: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”
Response: “We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Epiphany is a day which turns our attention to the visit of the magi. Other noted themes are Jesus’ performing the miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee and John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus. Central on the day is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as evidenced by the visit of the Magi. A few days ago we spoke of the mystery of God being revealed. I’m not sure we of the 21st century grasp the full drama of such a revelation. For at least 2,000 years the basic understanding was that God was the God of Israel. The Israelites were his people who were blessed and disciplined alternately all through the First Testament. It seemed there was more of the latter and less of the former! The New Testament continued in the same vein. The opening words are: “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham.” That’s about as Jewish an introduction as there is!
Jesus said time and again he had come to bring his message to the Jews. He taught from synagogue to synagogue and proclaimed the kingdom of God in the open to anyone who would listen. At times told his disciples to go only to the lost house of Israel. At the same time, he used illustrations from the First Testament demonstrating the breadth of the gospel when his own people, the Jews, rejected his message (E.g.Naaman, widow of Zarephath). But we see from his birth, the visit of the Magi was an epiphany to the Jews and to early believers. These Gentile kings worshiped Christ. This baby had come to bring redemption to the whole world.
We live in a world that has things exactly backwards. Rather than having one Savior for all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages―God’s design to bring redemption, the secular world has decided people are free to make their own gods and all religions are equally valid . . . or no religion is fine as well. Rather than worship a sovereign God who is creator of all that is and has designed a plan and purpose for all people, people have chosen to become their own god and become the judges of God while rejecting his Son. Pray this year that “people who walk in darkness” may see a great light, the Light of the World. May it be a year of epiphanies for us all. Lord knows we need them!
Music: “As with Gladness Men of Old” from Ipswich, England
“We Three Kings” Kings College (of course!)
Bonus: “Auld Lang Syne” Home Free Don’t miss this!!
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: grant that your people, illumined by our Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. ―BCP
© Daniel Sharp 2020