Jan 06, 2011 | Comments 0
Of the Biblical passages that tell the stories of the birth of Jesus, I like Matthew 2 the best. Advent with the announcements of both the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus is dramatic. The story of the birth of Jesus in a stable and the following account of angels informing and serenading shepherds is spectacular. But the most remarkable part of the story to me is the visit of the Wise Men and the manifestation of Jesus to Gentiles as the King.
Celebrated on January 6, Epiphany brings to a close the extraordinary events in the story of Jesus’ birth. And extraordinary events they are! Consider the following list: (1) the angelic visitation to Zechariah and the miraculous birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth; (2) the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel; (3) the appearance of the angel of the Lord to Joseph in a dream that informed him that Mary’s conception was of the Holy Spirit, that the child’s name was “Jesus,” that He “will save his people from their sins,” and that He is the promised One of Isaiah 7:14, that is, the virgin’s son, “Emmanuel”; (5) the appearance of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; (6) the angelic celebration that followed; (7) the appearance of “Wise Men from the East” in Jerusalem who had been following a special star and who asked where the “King of the Jews” was; (8) the star’s proceeding and standing over the place were Jesus was; (9) the dream vision that warned the Wise Men not to return to King Herod; (10) the appearance of the angel of the Lord in a dream that warned Joseph of Herod’s intention to kill Jesus; (11) Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ escape to Egypt; (12) the savagery of Herod in the massacre of the Innocents; and (13) the appearance of the angel of the Lord directing Joseph to take his family and return to the land of Israel because Herod was dead.
As I said, the most remarkable part of the story of the Nativity is the Epiphany, the visit of the Wise Men. Compacted in Matthew 2 are the magnificent account of the star and four dream-encounters with angels. Most especially, I like the disclosure of Jesus to Gentile Wise Men as King and their worship of Him.
Is this story of Epiphany credible?
An ancient text has recently been found in the Vatican and translated by Dr. Brent Landau into English: The Revelation of the Magi. An eighth century document that is a copy of a text that was probably first written in the second or third century, The Revelation of the Magi informs us that the Wise Men were from Shir, that is, China. Indeed, China is east of Bethlehem, and Bethlehem is near the ancient Spice Road that witnessed many races of people traveling back and forth from east and west.
Once again, is the story of Epiphany credible?
For two thousand years the witness of the Church has been “Yes!” For two thousand years the witness of Christians universally has been “Yes!”
Today, the attempted mass secularization of the celebration of the events of Jesus’ birth into “Winter Holidays” has been driven by an evangelistic skepticism in and unbelief of the stories of the birth of Jesus in the Bible. This is not unique to our time; however, it is indicative of a virulent strain of secularism that is inimical to a Christian faith that takes the God of the Bible and the Christian faith seriously.
The photograph above was taken on December 18, 1941. Along with other photographs taken by Hugo Jaeger, one of Adolph Hitler’s personal photographers, Hitler and his generals are shown celebrating a fully secularized and anti-Christian imitation of the Christmas story. Christmas decorations on the tree have been replaced with runic symbols. Instead of an angel, the tree was topped with a swastika. Instead of Christmas, the secular Nazi celebration introduced the “happy holidays”/”winter holidays” of “winter solstice.” (See Article)
The Advent and Christmas of 2010 are past; however, the story of the birth of Jesus has one more chapter. This chapter is Epiphany. This is the revelation to the world of Jesus as King. The New Year begins with a celebration that Jesus is King.
For 2000 years the Herods and Histlers of secular unbelief and frenzied anti-Christianity have sought to destroy the Christ of Christmas. Epiphany celebrates their failure. Epiphany declares that the Babe is not only the Christ, the Savior, but also the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The self-deceived purveyors of unbelief in and denial of the God of the Bible continue in their unrelenting war on the Babe of Bethlehem. Their shrill cry is: “We will not have this Man reigning over us!”
The great story of Epiphany is “Behold the King!” Herod is not king. Hitler is not king. They were pretenders. JESUS is King! Jesus owns both heaven and hell. He reigns in heaven to the delight of those who believe. He reigns in hell to the terror of those who will not believe.
Nowadays we do not do much with Epiphany. Maybe we should! What a grand way to start a new year!
Behold the King!
Charles W. Wilson
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