An epiphany is an eye-opening “light bulb” experience. It is a burst of clarity and understanding. It is like looking at one of those Magic Eye books. Everything looks blurry. But as you stare at it, the image begins to come together and what you didn’t see before is now made clear. You experience an “Aha! moment.” Today we celebrate Epiphany. We think back on the day when the full extent of Jesus’ ministry came into focus. Advent is a season of hopeful anticipation that leads us to Christmas. And then December 25-January 5 are often identified as the twelve days of Christmas. And then on January 6, we recognize Epiphany. Its roots can be identi- fied as early as the 4th century. Primarily, it is connected with the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2). On this date, the Eastern Church has also celebrated Jesus’ baptism and the inauguration of his public ministry.
Mary & Joseph had private revelations from the angels regarding Jesus. And then the shepherds come on the night of his birth. And of course there was the pronouncement at the temple by Simeon. But at this point, Jesus’ impact was limited to Israel. Imagine what Joseph & Mary must have felt when, two years later, a impressing gathering of foreign dignitaries appear at their doorstep with gifts fit for a king! Suddenly, it became clear that Jesus was more than the king of the Jews. He was the rightful King of the world! He was the promised descendent of Eve who would defeat Satan and make all things right again (Genesis 3:15). He was the offspring of Abraham who would bring blessing to all the nations (Genesis 12:1-3).
Epiphany has particular significance for those of us who are not Jewish. These wise men came from the East—from Persia or perhaps even as far away as China. Their presence is a signal that the gospel has been made available to all the ethnicities of the world. And the opulent gifs of the Magi are a reminder of the honor that is due the King.
And of course, Epiphany is a missionary holiday. We should not just feel grateful for what we have received. We should also be inspired to take the gospel to the world. Their presence is a reminder of all the people groups that are still waiting to hear about the Savior!
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/epiphany-magi-christmas-night-3876520/