This day, January 6th, is the Day of Epiphany and when we recognize and celebrate that Jesus was revealed as Divine and revealed to the Gentile/non-believers, as well as having prophesied to the Jews. The Gentiles are symbolized by the Magi who were outside of the Jewish tradition. It is also the day I have to, reluctantly, start thinking about taking down Christmas decorations. When you hear/sing the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that is actually the time between Christmas Day and Epiphany. It is not just a way to keep the Christmas season going. But I also like it for that reason. And as I have said before, I like the part that the Magi play in the Christmas story. So for me it is a good to let the Christmas season extend, and a day to look forward to – even though after that day Christmas themed things grow thin and weary to some.
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 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.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.” (Matthew 2:1 – 4)
is not fair to say “and all Jerusalem with him”; it fact it is
very political to say that! It is like saying that the fears and
agenda of a ruler should be felt and shared by the people he purports
to rule; and we know that should not be try! (And here I am being
political! Ah well, let’s move on.)
“They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘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.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 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.” 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.” (Verses 5 – 9)
had said above that Jesus was revealed to the Jewish people and to
Israel through prophecy. It seems clear that the writer of Matthew,
and also the chief priests and scribes, that this prophecy (and most
likely others) pointed to a very supreme leader. Also likely was that
Herod was worried about a political leader, and maybe the chief
priests & scribes; that might be why they did not recognize Jesus
& Jesus as Incarnate, and maybe why they started to fear or
revile Jesus as a religious/faith leader. It is also why, beloved
reader, the revelation of Jesus was such an epiphany.
“When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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.” (Verses 10 – 11)
have to wonder and ponder what the Magi saw the baby Jesus as –
political leader, religious leader, young god? I could look up (and
maybe you beloved reader might) the significance of their gifts. I
once or twice did that, but cannot remember clearly enough to tell
you here. The point is that Jesus was revealed; and the challenge is
for each of us to determine what image or aspect of Jesus was
“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (Verse 12)
we do know for sure is that the path to belief can come by many
roads. And we cannot know or predict by which road it might come.
“This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:1 – 4)
Paul came from Jewish background and tradition. He was one of a group of people who felt belief and worship of Jesus Christ was wrong. And in his vehemence he undertook to eradicate those who believed. In a twist of fate Paul was called by the Divine to bring the word of the Lord God to non-believers – most particularly to Gentiles, although Jews were written to and most assuredly by Paul to be part of the children of God. In fact, according to Paul, Jews were first invited to belief in Jesus the Messiah but that Gentiles were second did not mean they were accorded second place but we equal as all have equal welcome and call to faith.
“In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.” (Verses 5 – 12)
Paul is counted as one of the apostles, although he came to faith after the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry and life on earth. Paul came to faith, if you will, via another road. And called down other roads to some comparatively far-flung places. Paul also felt compelled to write to the places and churches that he had visited, and strove to unite the circle of believers through benevolent giving between the groups. This tells us and shows us that ministry can be done in a variety ways, and the good news delivered to a variety of people who early initial believers may not have a lot in comment with – at first. But our faith under the Divine unites us where others may see differences that splinter and divide one group of people from another. But for all, the message is the same.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.” (Isaiah 60:1 – 5)
The writer of Isaiah may emphasis more of the tangible results of the faith spread, but that does not take away from the fact that people coming to faith bring a presence and wealth of belief. Remember too that I am emphasizing this year a belief tradition that is gentle, compassionate, and merciful. That too is sort of a “different road” from what many expect Christian faith to be like. And, we may find that sort of faith comes from unexpected places and people who have come to faith in a favorite of ways. The writer of Isaiah says,
“A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” (Verse 6)
This harks to the coming of the Magi who represent faith via a different road, and faith spreading out via diverse roads. We may find out way to a common Lord and God, but the paths to that faith are numerous; and the means, ways, and destinations are numerous as well. May you, beloved reader, find your way to the Divine; and as you journey forth may the Presence of the Lord God travel with you. Selah!