The Epiphany or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles    06 January 2019 A.D.

  The Epiphany or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles    06 January 2019 A.D.

               The Epistle. Ephesians 3:1-12                 The Gospel. Matthew 2:1-12               

                              O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy
                              only begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant
                              that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life
                              have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the
                              same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.            Amen.

   If you study the Bible at any length you will read of God’s encounter with His creation, humans, all through out the Old Testament. Once we have a nation, the Hebrew people, established by covenant with Abraham, then the encounters are more focused on a particular folk.  But, there will always be the example of God reaching outside of His chosen people to the broader culture of humanity. Several examples come to mind.  Rahab, who saved the spies sent by Joshua, Ruth, a Moabite, who went home with her mother-in-law to live as a Hebrew. There is Naaman, the Syrian, who was healed of leprosy, the city of Nineveh, who turned from their wicked ways after hearing Jonah preach, as well as others who were influenced by the Hebrew people.  These examples show that God was working with His people to reach all of His creation, in one way or another. 

So with that in mind, what is so important about the Epiphany?  We now have Immanuel, God with us, who is revealed to the world, by way of a group of magi or astronomers, who are gentiles. They saw the signs and wonders in the heavens and followed the star to the King.  If you think of it as the first official introduction of Christ to the rest of the world, it then is pretty amazing to contemplate. 
Because unless you are Jewish, this is the first time Jesus Christ is revealed to the rest of the world. Now mind you there was no widespread broadcast of this information, but this was the beginning of the sharing of the good new, the Gospel, with the rest of humanity. Wow.  
Let’s share the irony, but don’t be too smug about this irony. When the wise men went to the capital of the Jewish territories, that being Jerusalem, seeking the King of the Jews, what did Herod do?
Besides being troubled, because he feared for his place on the throne, he summons his own “wise” men. He wanted to know where Christ (the anointed, the Messiah, the King of the Jews) was to be born.   Without hesitation, they told him, in fact they quoted the prophecies of Christ’s birth:
 “...And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel...”
Micah 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Herod’s own scribes and scholars knew where Christ was to be born and yet they did not see the signs that the magi saw. What does that say about the people in Jerusalem?  Remember a year or so earlier, when Christ was presented at the temple days after his birth, Anna and Simeon prophesied about him as soon as they laid eyes on him.  Yes aided by the Holy Spirit, but yet they were just ordinary folk, who without the clouds of “wisdom and education” were able to understand who Jesus was. 
   So here is the irony. It would take a group of gentiles, traveling from a far country, to recognize that the King of the Jews had been born, as promised so many centuries earlier. This group, we don’t know how many, came to Bethlehem, brought gifts for Jesus small family, and then went home with a story to tell their families and friends.  If you study the history of the early church and how it spread both east and west, it is interesting to note that a rather strong group of believers flourished in the lands east of Jerusalem. The Antiochians, Chaldeans, Assyriac churches would be established in the areas around the far reaches of the eastern Roman empire. These areas would include Persia, what would later be Iraq, Armenia, and farther east.  
So did the magi take the message back to their homeland and later provide a foundation for the establishment of those early expressions of Christianity?  Maybe.  One day we will know for certain, but it is interesting to contemplate the possible introduction of Christ to the gentiles by way of the magi.

Today it is all about the introduction of Christ the Savior to the gentiles.  We understand that the Gospel is meant to be shared with all, no exceptions. So the message must be taken out to the highways and byways, to the homes, to the workplace, to all places we encounter those who are lost and without light.   The star that led the magi, to the True Light of the world, should be our inspiration to share the light of Christ to the whole world.  

 May God bless and keep you this day and in the week to come.

Let us pray:

O ALMIGHTY God, Who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, That they may love the thing which thou commandest, And desire that which thou dost promise; That so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, Our hearts may surely there be fixed, Where true joys are to be found; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  

 O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; let us walk in the light of the Lord. And he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.