Epiphany

Epiphany #2: The Great Equalizer

Luke 2:22-24  2 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

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The gospel is the great equalizer: No matter one’s racial, cultural, or socioeconomic background, regardless of gender, geographical or religious heritage, Jesus Christ completely levels the playing field by his grace.

Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds (Canterbury)

Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds (Canterbury)

Not one of us can brag of our fame, prominence, attractiveness, talent, church affiliation, economic independence, self-acclaimed righteousness. No, each comes equally to the one who both humbles and then elevates us to glory by his compelling grace.  Notice the three completely distinct groups within the birth narratives.

In the Matthew 2 account, we read of the first group, the visiting Magi who’ve traveled a long distance to come and worship the Christ. These distinguished leaders were very rich, powerful, prominent; most likely they were upper-level leaders of a religious priestly caste from Persia.  Many would be impressed with their lavish gifts and splendor.

In the Luke 2 account, we read of a second group, lower class shepherds who were tending the fields by night.  But unlike the Magi, these men weren’t wealthy or notable; instead they were working-class poor, likely disheveled and dusty; not quite dressed for church. Many wouldn’t want to be bothered by their presence.

And of course we must remember the third group, the young and unwed couple, Joseph and Mary.  They who were most likely publicly shamed (at least initially) by their offensive situation obviously didn’t have any social clout or connections: They couldn’t even line up a room for the birth; no room in the inn!  Nor did they possess any financial means: They were so poor that when they came to present the baby Jesus at the Temple for the rite of consecration/circumcision (Luke 2:22-24), they were only able to give the lowest gift possible; the poverty offering. Two small birds.

Such a wide array of people in these three groups, but they had so much in common. All three groups saw, heard, and believed the angelic message of glorious redemption: That God on earth in human form came to bring salvation and deliverance. So the Magi, the shepherds, Joseph and Mary, and so many more, worshiped the Christ.

The gospel is the great equalizer.

#Wade

Categories: Devotional, Epiphany | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Manifestation of Glory: The Epiphany and the Magi

Matthew 2:10-11 “When they say 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.”

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When God manifests himself incarnated in Jesus Christ, the only appropriate response is a deep soul-shaking life-altering worship!

[Epiphany means “manifestation“. In the historic Church, it is a recognition of the divine manifestation of God in Jesus Christ as witnessed by the Magi. The Western Church celebrates this Epiphany with a yearly feast on January 6.]

epiphany the magi mt2jpgThese Magi from the East (likely Persia) were distinguished leaders from outside nations. Quite obviously they were experts in astronomy and (interestingly) were also aware of God’s covenantal promise of the coming Messiah. So they cleared their calendars, dropped their existing plans, and allowed this disruption to commandeer their current circumstances.

More importantly, these Magi came to worship the Christ-child; the “king of the Jews” (vs.2). And upon arriving, they worshiped emphatically. The text tells us in vs.10 literally that they “rejoiced exceedingly-exceedingly with mega great joy!” (double emphasis intended).

Not only that, but the gifts that the Magi presented to Christ (the Greek word “doron” translated gifts is also used in Mt 5 – the offering placed on an altar and later in Heb 5 and 8 – the gifts/sacrifices performed by a priest) have strong symbolic significance as well.

Gold represents kingship. Frankincense (incense) represents priesthood. Myrrh, an embalming ointment, represents death. Within these gifts, we recognize the multi-faceted work of our Lord Jesus: He is our KING, he is also our Priest who performed sacrifice on our behalf, and he himself IS the Sacrifice who gave his own life on the cross in our place.

And let’s not miss the surprising aspect of this Epiphany visit of the Magi for they were “outsiders” to the Jewish religious system and were from other nations.

But this too was God’s design for from the beginning of the covenant promise (seed form Gen 3, more clearly in Gen 12, 15, 17, 22, etc.) we read of God’s promise to bless ALL peoples/nations/tribes through Abraham -> David -> Jesus, who is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise.

So now, in Christ, none are outsiders, none are excluded due to background, race, national or geographical heritage. God has appeared in Christ to fulfill these promises to all! And at the end of time, the vision of John in Rev 5:9 will indeed come to ultimate fulfillment where Jesus Christ, our Lamb, slain on our behalf will have “purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Worship him! For in Epiphany, we remember God manifested himself to us in Christ, our Lord.

#Wade

Categories: Devotional, Epiphany | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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