Sunday, January 8, 2017

Celebrating Epiphany -- The Wise Men Showed Up to Worship

Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas, falls on January 6th (but celebrating on the closest Sunday -- today, the 8th) and it marks the official end to the wonderful season of Christmas. That’s why so many of us wait until after this day to take down our Christmas decorations. Epiphany means manifestation of God in His Son as human in Jesus Christ. It marks a visit to the baby Jesus by the Three Kings, or Wise Men.

Most manger scenes include those three wise men, but, in reality, the wise men didn't even actually appear until about two years after Christmas. Tradition has led us to assume many things about these men that the Bible doesn't tell us. For one, they're referred to as “kings,” which is probably not accurate. To call them wise is probably fair, as the mostly likely possibility is that these men were astrologers and the Bible doesn't give the number of men. All we know for sure is that they brought three gifts on their long journey from the East.

These men had seen a very unusual star that signaled to them the birth of divine royalty. So, like captains charting a course by the stars in the middle of the vast ocean, these men set off to “follow” the star. Their journey brought them to Judea. And assuming that the star indicated a birth in the house of the ruler, they went first to King Herod's home.“Where is the King of the Jews?” they asked Herod. That question was the beginning of Jesus’ troubles. Herod didn’t like the question, because he WAS the King of the Jews, and the fact that it was being asked by some foreigners who had journeyed from a distant country was even more troubling to the king. The thought that there was a rival to his throne was terribly disturbing for him.

So we get the sense that a plan began to form in Herod’s head. But first, he needed to know where this newborn King of the Jews was. Herod sent the men out to find the baby, then to report back where he was. So the men go, continuing to follow the star that had led them there to Judea. And sure enough, it led them right to the doorsteps of the home of Mary, Joseph and their child Jesus.
Reader’s Digest once posed the question “What if God had called 3 Wise Women instead of 3 Wise Men? If 3 women.....

1. They would have asked for directions to the stable instead of going to King Herod.
2. They would have arrived on time and helped deliver the baby.
3. They would have cleaned the stable and brought practical food for the family to eat – like a casserole.
4. And there would have been peace on earth!”

Back to this intriguing story. Matthew 2:11 says that immediately upon entering the house, the wise men knew they were in the presence of the most wonderful king to ever been born. They fell to their knees to honor and worship Him, and they offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Not such practical gifts, like a casserole or diapers for a year, but most definitely...valuable gifts. A gold brick in today’s time is worth about $485,000 and in that day it would have probably been even more valuable. Those gifts probably sustained the Holy Family for many years to come. Now that's what I call "a baby shower"!

Those wise men brought gifts to Jesus, but Jesus gave them, and us, back so much more -- an even greater gift. He came here to this earth ON PURPOSE. He became one of us so that He could GIVE to us the gift of a “PAID IN FULL” bill. He gave us the gift of forgiveness and a pardon from ever having to pay for the mistakes we make. He gave His ALL!

All we have to do is receive and take the gift. And once we do, we won't be able to help ourselves -- we will want to give back to Him in worship with everything we are and everything we have. We honor and worship Him. When we experience His love, like the Wise Men, we MUST give and we MUST worship Him, not because we’re required or have to, but because we want to honor, adore and worship our KING of all KINGS!