Christmastide lasted until January 5. Now starting on January 6th we observe the Epiphany. It is the time that marks two events in Jesus’ life which proclaim his Deity. The first event is when the wise men followed the star to Jesus in Bethlehem. The second is when John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
Epiphany is the answer to the most important question in the Bible. You know the story, after the disciples have said that people believe Jesus to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets, Jesus poignantly questions them directly asking:
“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:13-20) This is the quintessential question of all time! It is a question each of us must answer for ourselves. As I’ve often heard theologians state, God has no grandchildren!
You don’t get into heaven because you were born into a Christian family, because you go to church, or because you are a good person doing nice things for others. Jesus tells us “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6) Therefore, each of us must have our own personal relationship with Jesus. You must proclaim with your month that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead to be saved.” (Rom 10:9)
How you answer Jesus’ question determines your destiny, either an eternal destiny in God’s presence or not!
Have you ever had an epiphany? I mean a sudden realization that rocks the very essence of who you are? Well I have! I will spare you all the personal details but when I was about 40 I was watching the animated movie classic Anastasia and during the song “Journey to the Past” I had my first epiphany. It changed my life, it brought me to uncontrollable sobs…you might know the kind…with fiery hot tears. But these were not tears of sorrow or pain but tears of relief. They were tears of joy, tears of putting years of misunderstanding who I was and how I made decision into a new perspective. Before this event, if anyone had ever told me that they had had an epiphany I would have said, oh that’s nice, good for you. But now after my own life-altering epiphany of who I am in light of who Jesus is, I totally understand the Magi’s epiphany that fateful night when they walked in and cast their eyes upon Jesus and knew he was the King of Kings here to save the Jews and Gentiles. Upon realizing this, Scripture tells us, they fell down, worshiped him and gave their greatest treasures to him. (Matt 2:11)
It is important to understand, there is an initial epiphany where you are saved and brought into God’s heavenly kingdom but the Christian Ephiphany doesn’t stop there. Just as Donkey said in Shrek there are many layers of a parfait so too are there many layers of Christian transformation. 1 Peter 1:13 calls us to be holy, preparing our minds for action and being sober-minded as we set our hope on the grace that’s received at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As we sang this past Sunday, our God is a good God. He wants to heal us, to transform us. But to allow that to happen, Fr. David this past Sunday called us to be people who live life in light of the revelation of who Jesus Christ is.
But what does that really mean? The answer can be found in Ephesians 5:1-2 where it teaches us to be imitators of God by “walking in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
As Fr. David posed this proposition, he asked a convicting question: How are you living your life in light of Jesus’ life and love? This is a question worthy of true reflection and prayer.
For me, before my epiphany, I was living as if I was the savior of my life and the savior of my family member’s lives. But unless we are living our life in light of the fact that only Jesus saves then we are living a lie, one that does not lead to life but to death.
My prayer for the church therefore is this: may this time of Epiphany bring each of us to a new, deeper level of understanding of who Jesus Christ is, the King of kings, the Holy and Righteous One, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior who came to rescue us from ourselves and our sinful world.