Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Epiphany 2016

"Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." [Matthew 2:2]

Matthew tells us about a star that appeared in the sky at the birth of Jesus. It caught the attention of magi from far off lands and they had to come see what it was about.

Setting aside how the religious and imperial powers were after Jesus right from the start (and that's nothing to sneeze at), here's what I think Matthew was a little big after in this story.

So, your Caesar had a star appear at his memorial games? Cute. Our Messiah had a star at his birth.

Your Caesar became a god after his death? Quaint. Our Messiah we declare divine from his conception.

You may think that comet at the games was a sign of Caesar's ascendancy to godhood, but we declare to you a God who descends in humility to live among us.

Much is made of Matthew paralleling Jesus with stories of the Hebrew patriarchs, but here I think he's also comparing this infant to a Roman warrior-statesman and not in a favorable fashion. The pagan magi may represent the eventual spreading of the gospel to gentile peoples, but the star is all about elevating a Jewish infant over a Roman hero.

This is the kind of God we're dealing with. The One that surprises from the lowly, the One that usurps the powers of this world with humility.

This is the star that shines brightest in the night sky. To mix gospel metaphors, this is the light that shines in darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it.

Blessed Epiphany to you. May you find the Epiphany light shining on you.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. [Isaiah 60:1]

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