What Epiphany Means
By Dr. Mark D. Roberts -- www.TheHighCalling.org
And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News (2 Timothy 1:10).
January 6th is Epiphany this year, the day after the twelve-day celebration of Christmas (or, in some liturgical calendars, the twelfth day of the Christmas season). The English word "Epiphany" comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means "appearing" or "revealing." Epiphany focuses on God's self-revelation in Christ. On this day, some Christian traditions pay special attention to the visit of the Magi. Other traditions focus on the baptism of Jesus, especially the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God's Son. In either case, the emphasis is upon God making himself known to the world through Jesus, the divine Son.
The theological essence of Epiphany is found in 2 Timothy 1:10: "And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News." If you were reading this verse in Greek, you'd find the word epiphaneia where we have "appearing." God has made "all of this" plain to us through the epiphany of Christ.
But what is "all of this"? We find an answer in the previous verse: "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time-to show us his grace through Christ Jesus." The original language makes it clear that "all of this" is God's plan (or purpose) and grace. In other words, though Jesus, God not only reveals himself to us, but also reveals his plan to save us, a plan that centers in his grace. The gracious plan of God reflects and confirms his gracious character.
If we want to know God, we must turn our eyes to Jesus. In his words and deeds, and most of all in his sacrificial death, he reveals God to us. On this day of Epiphany, let us thank God for making himself known to us in such a marvelous way. And let us renew our commitment to sharing this good news with the world.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Can you think of some specific attributes of God's character that you have come to know through Jesus? Are there people in your life with whom you might share the good news of God's love in Christ? Are you willing to ask the Lord to use you to communicate his good news to them?
Gracious God, today we thank you for making yourself known to us in Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping us to know your character, your glory, and your grace.
All praise be to you, O God, because you have revealed yourself to us.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you have shown us the Father and because you have embodied divine grace so that we might receive it.
All praise be to you, Holy Spirit, for helping us to live in that grace each day.
Fill us afresh with your power, Spirit of God, so that we might share the good news of Christ with the world . . . beginning with our friends and neighbors. Amen.
Mark D. Roberts, as Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, is an advisor and frequent contributor to TheHighCalling.org. A Presbyterian pastor, Mark earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University. He has written six books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer (WaterBrook, 2005). He blogs daily at www.markdroberts.com, and the meditations he writes for The High Calling will be featured at the Evangelical Portal every Thursday.