January 5, 2012

Friday, January 6, Epiphany

Friday, January 6, Epiphany

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.46, 100, Is. 60:1-9, 2 Cor. 4:1-6
Evening - Ps. 72, Is. 61, Rom. 15:8-21


Commentary
Rather than comment on the Scriptures of the day I want to comment on the meaning of Epiphany. The day celebrates the visit of the eastern wise men to worship Jesus. These were probably Persian astrologers, who watched the stars for a living and believed they could tell things about and for a person according to the configuration of stars and planets. They were educated and knew the history of their country. They knew that nearly seven hundred years ago the Jews had been brought to their country as captives. They knew about Daniel and Esther, and they probably knew Jews personally, for many had stayed in Babylon and Persia rather than return to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. They knew about the Jewish hope for the Messiah, and had probably read Isaiah 60:3. When they saw the star they interpreted it as the rising of the brightness of the Messiah, and they sought Him out.

There has been much discussion about the nature of the star. Some think it was a conjunction of planets; others believe it was a comet. I believe it was a special star just for them, to guide them to Bethlehem. No one else seems to know about it. It is not reported by others, even Herod didn't know about it, and it moved to lead them to the house where Jesus was.

When they arrived they worshiped Jesus. They did not reverence Him as a king. They worshiped Him as God. Their gifts signified divinity, showing that they recognised Him as God.

But the most amazing thing about the wise men is that God accepted their worship. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost accepted their worship of the infant Christ as God. And this has an important significance for all people. For these men were not Jews. They were Gentiles. They were not of the chosen people. They were not children of the Covenant. They were strangers, aliens, and idolaters. They were outside of the Covenant people and outside of God. Yet God led them to Himself, and when they came to Him they found they were accepted. They found they were welcomed. They found the heart of God, and the Kingdom of God, and the love of God, and the Heaven of God were open to them, just as it was to the Jews. All they had to do was enter by faith.

People in many countries around the world read this commentary, and I want to say to you that the arms and heart and Heaven of God are open to you. God is not restricted to one country or one race or one continent. Jesus came to gather His people out of all nations, all races, all places, and to make us one people in Him. All we have to do is receive Him as our God by faith, just as the wise men did.