January 6

January 6, EPIPHANY       EPIPHANY

Scripture: John 8:12-19

12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”

19 “Where is your father?” they asked.

Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

Some thoughts:

     Epiphany is about the revelation of the incarnation. The visit of the magi, the wedding feast, and the baptism of Jesus are all central themes of Epiphany all shedding light on the person and ministry of Christ. We’ll focus on the baptism and wedding at Cana in the next few days.

     I have to wonder how often we are like the Pharisees when God is moving in our midst and we are so oblivious and engrossed in our small individualistic worlds that we fail to recognize his working among us. Our spiritual “light” doesn’t go on. We don’t see him working through those around us. We live with such low expectations. An epiphany escapes us.

     I have discovered over the years, the more we know of Jewish practice and mindset in Old Testament times, the better we’ll understand the New Testament Scriptures and the more times a “light” goes on as we study. Such is the case here. This discourse of Jesus took place in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles or, as it is sometimes called, the Feast of Booths or Shelters (also known in Hebrew as Succoth or Sukkot). It is significant in Judaism because it was one of three required pilgrimage feasts, which meant Jews from near and far would come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate. There are Messianic expectations associated with the Feast of Tabernacles.

     One of the ceremonial celebrations of this feast was the lighting of sixteen golden bowls on four menorah stands each filled with olive oil giving great light in this part of the Temple court, a place where the people were allowed only for this festival during the year. To quote, “The light celebration was reminiscent of the descent of the Shekinah glory in Solomon’s day and looked forward to the return of the Shekinah in the days of the Messiah pointing to God’s presence among his people (Exek.43:1-6).”[1]

     It is in this context that Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” His words would have registered with the Jews as the words of Isaiah pointing to the coming of the Messiah. As proof, the Pharisees immediately picked up his Messianic and accused him of lying in his assertion. So, Jesus answered them quoting the Torah which requires at least two witnesses to validate any claim to truth (Deut. 19:15). Jesus and his Father were the witnesses. The logical question was exactly what they then asked. “Where is your father?”

     What immediately comes to mind are Jesus’ words, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” It then becomes very clear the Pharisees do not recognize who Jesus is because they do not know God the Father but are lost in their interpretation of the law’s regulations and rules. Had they truly known God, they would have recognized the one in their midst. 

     The other morning when I started working on these devotionals again, I had a bright kind of flash in my eyes that wouldn’t go away. I had difficulty reading my screen. I had to stop. I was scared. I prayed and asked the Lord to heal the problem. I immediately told Nancy and she prayed. I looked up what the trouble could be. What I found was not comforting, I needed to act. So, I pulled up our insurance page to find an eye doctor. When “Finding an Eye Doctor” came up, the flash in my eyes immediately went away as did some floaters that I’ve had for several years. My eyes have been fine ever since. Do I think God had a hand in this? Yes. What’s the point? The Light of the world is alive and well. We need to keep our eyes and ears open. His witness is all around us. Today look for his Light in your world.

Music: “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”  Mahalia Jackson      

Prayer: An Evening Prayer

O Divine Father, whose mercy ever awaits those who return unto Thee in true lowliness and contrition of heart, hear now one humble suppliant who needs Thy help. Bravely did I set out this morning upon the life of a new day; now I lie down ashamed and burdened with memories of things undone that ought to have been done and things done that ought not to have been done and things you Lord, did which I missed entirely, not even recognizing your hand working in my midst. Bring to me afresh, O God, Thy healing and cleansing power so that again I may lay hold of the salvation which Thou hast offered to me through Jesus Christ my Lord. Quicken my heart to look for your presence and working as I go through the day tomorrow. Thank you for your grace, mercy and protection as I close my eyes at the ending of this day. In the name of the Light of the world, Jesus, I pray. Amen.     ―A Diary of Private Prayer, p.79, adapted Daniel Sharp

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[1] Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), p.140.