Let us pray: Dear Savior, being sure of our salvation is vital for each of us. Being sure that you came to save us and that you accept and value our worship is vital. Epiphany is one of the proofs to those concerns that you give us. It is your birth stamp of approval upon those wonderful words: “For God so loved the world.” Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF ALL NATIONS!
TEXT: Matthew 2: 1-12
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those were the famous gifts the Wise Men, the Magi, the Magoi from Babylon offered the Baby Jesus. The Magoi date back to before Daniel of OT fame. In fact, Daniel was one of the chief Magoi. They were men picked for their brain-power and abilities to research out and keep track of ancient wisdom. This included astronomy, medicine, historical events, and the like. So, the Magoi knew something about the “Star in the East” and how the Hebrews believed it was a sign of their King, the Messiah. When the saw this predicted “star” they set out to find and worship Him.
How many Magoi came along on this trip? We don’t know, although they are mentioned in the plural form, so there was more than one. Tradition has it at three—on account of the 3 gifts. And why those particular gifts? That part gets interesting. Gold is an obvious choice. It’s always been considered the ultimate in money. It stands on its own. It is universally valued in literally every culture. And it looks and feels quite regal. Frankincense is considered the grand-daddy of essential oils. It has medicinal properties that are too numerous to mention. The Magoi were experts in all this. Likewise, myrrh. When you get home do a Google search on myrrh. It has been used to treat everything from lung problems to stomach issues. People today are just finding or “re-finding” out about its huge benefits. So, the Magoi gifts provided funds for the holy families escape to Egypt and bankrolled them for the next few years; and between frankincense and myrrh provided them health benefits to keep them all thriving. I’d say those were insightful gifts, wouldn’t you?
Epiphany is a “big deal” because it shows Christ, reveals Him, to be the Savior of the Gentiles, too. God didn’t want anyone to forget that Jesus came to save all people of all nations. He doesn’t play favorites, because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The Bible reminds all people, Jew and non-Jew, that: “There is no one who is righteous, no not even one.” That’s why God sent His Son to be born for all people. He was righteous, or “right with God” for us with His perfect life lived for us and His innocent death died for us. This Baby, the Prince of Peace, made eternal peace between God and man, consecrated with His blood on the cross. Speaking of gifts, what’s more costly and valuable than the blood of Jesus Christ? Epiphany is a precursor of that ultimate gift that God gives to us poor sinners through faith. For “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
To me, the story of Epiphany is a story of circles. The Baby is born in Bethlehem, worshipped by Jewish shepherds—a low social caste—and finally worshipped by world-class Magoi before they leave for Egypt.—A circle of universal worship. Then we have King Herod plotting to kill Christ and cunningly manipulating the Magoi. But God intercedes, protects and Holy Family from such evil. Re-routes the Magoi back home by another route. And eventually brings Christ back from Egypt after Herod is dead.—A circle of safety. We also have Gentiles being given joy over the honor of worshipping God’s Son in the flesh and Christ happily receiving it—only to give all Gentiles even greater joy after the non-Jewish Roman governor had Christ crucified thereby saving the world. In other words using evil and turning it around for a good and gracious purpose.—A circle of salvation.
Epiphany is a happy time. It is a joyous season. It reminds us that no matter our ethnic background or ancestry, God’s Son came to give us peace of soul. In this new year and new decade, remember Epiphany and rejoice today that God uses “all things” just like then, to “work good for those who love God” all because “He first loved us.” Amen
The Peace of God….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox