January 6, 2023 (Epiphany)
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“When they saw the star once again, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house where Mary, Joseph and the child- Jesus lived, they entered in, bowed down and worshiped Him. They presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They then returned home by a different path.’” (Matthew 2.10-12)
We have confirmation! Jesus is born- Immanuel, King of kings and Lord of lords.
From the youngest (Mary) to the oldest (Magi).
From the lowest (shepherds) to the greatest (Magi).
From the poorest (shepherds) to the wealthy (Magi).
From a messenger (Gabriel and the Heavenly Hosts) to messengers (all who heard, saw and believed).
And we still know far too many people who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ. It is said by modern Church pundits, “What is needed is relationship not religion.” They apply that paradigm to “relating to Christ” and to “relating to people.” But, is there another “relationship” that needs to be embraced? What many will agree to is that human beings have a need to relate to “god, a higher being.” Sadly, many have chosen to make gods of things they cannot see to bring them to the end of their journey and then beyond. There is only ONE true God. He revealed Himself to Adam and Eve. He made Himself known to Cain and Abel. He showed Himself to Noah and his family. He entered into the presence of Abram and Sarai. He covenanted with Haggar and Ishmael. He lead Jacob and Esau. The list goes on and on teaching us that in the midst of all relationships, even the one we must have with Jesus as the Christ, being right with God is the most critical. Yes, I know that old saying “Love my kids, love me.” And we should be loving God’s children, especially God’s Son. But, in the end it is all about how much do we believe in, relate to and trust that Yahweh Elohim is the God of gods. It is God who has saved us by giving to us His only begotten Son. It is God who “saved” His Son, Jesus, from eternal death by raising Him from the grave and welcoming Him to sit again at His right hand. And in all of that, we are called to know that in our relationship with Jesus Christ we have entered into the presence of God Himself. Jesus told His disciples, especially Philip, “Don’t you know me after all this time. Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father [Abba, Yahweh Elohim.]” (John 14.9) Our response should be like that of the Magi whose “epiphany” declared that the Word of the Lord was without question “Jesus- the One born in Bethlehem.” Their gifts confirmed their belief that God had done this. They worshiped Him and by so doing they offered perfect praise to God His Father. There was no doubt of their belief. Their gifts were meant for a king and the affection was intended to declare complete surrender to Him who was, is and will always be King of the Jews and by that of all people.
And then they left. But, they, like the shepherds two years previous, did not leave unaffected and unchanged. They left continuing to tell of what they had heard and seen. Their eyes had fallen on Immanuel, the Lord with us. It was an unforgettable experience challenging every step they would take from that moment on. They never lost sight, however, of the God who made it possible to see “their salvation.” And the Word moved out into all the world. And it seems to me that for both shepherd and magi, that word was intended to reach the lost and wandering people of God. They are near to us just as the shepherds were in the fields of Bethlehem. They are distant from us just as the people of Israel’s history were in faraway lands represented by the Magi themselves. They are all around us just as God whose Spirit moves at His command over the face of the deep and over the faces of those we see daily is all around us. And they are all the same in this regard- they need Jesus! Whether they are rich or poor, strong or weak, capable or incapable, understanding or seeking, male or female (by whatever consideration the world has now validated), young or old or unborn, and the list of “designations” can go on to include race, ethnicity, philosophical and social determinations and more- they need Jesus! And whether they would consider it or not, confess it or not, believe it or not or submit to it or not- they need Jesus! Better to need Him now and seek Him where He can be found than to struggle at the end of this life’s journey bearing the weight of “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” And without question, the direction to the fulfillment of this vital question comes from above. Shepherds heard “angels on high.” Wise men rejoiced “with the Star in the sky.” The disciples marveled as Jesus ascended into Heaven knowing by His Word that He would return from Heaven to take them where He was going. And they embraced that direction because He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
So, mighty ones of God, how is it that you are returning to the fields of your life? Are you striving to be “outstanding in your field” or “out standing in your field”? Is it all about you first or you first going and broadcasting the seed of “good news which is of a great joy”? And it is a joy that is unsurpassed by any gift this world can give. It is a joy that makes us complete in the love of God. It is a love for which we should be willing to sacrifice all that we have in order to possess it and ultimately, with greatest satisfaction, to be possessed by it. Dare we leave this Epiphany unchanged, unaltered and unaffected? If we do, then did we truly see Jesus in this season or want to see Jesus in this season and thus see His Father who is our Father by Spirit and Truth? And will or won’t others see Him and Them in us as we journey back to our respective places of work, home and life? Ultimately, will He see us being welcomed home to dwell with Him and Them forever and ever? We have no time to waste, no effort to spare, no hope to lose! The time is now. The place is here, there and everywhere. The reason is “the joy of the Lord is our salvation.” Let it be so with us today: Immanuel.
Father, You have made all things and in Your Son have made all things new which are offered to You. You have made a way for us to truly come home to dwell with You forever in Spirit and in Truth. We declare now and pray in His name, that Your will change us, affect us have its effect on us so that others may come to know what we know: Jesus, Immanuel, is God with us, within us, for us and never against us. AMEN.