January 6 is traditionally the day Christians celebrate Epiphany. Its significance is to celebrate when the wise men visited our Lord Jesus as a young child. We’ve experienced Epiphany in new ways since moving to Mexico in 2016. Having a king’s cake with hidden figurines from the nativity has been a special treat for us! Read Matthew 2:1-12 for a Biblical account.
You’ll probably note that the text doesn’t say these men were kings, nor does it say there were three of them. Details like that should not keep us from seeing the beauty and wisdom of what is happening here. There is much to celebrate. These men saw a star. They were wise enough to know that it meant something significant had happened, and they were curious.
On the first day of Christmas, we looked at my husband David’s favorite Christmas carol. What’s your favorite? Hopefully it will be one of the next ones during our 12 Days of Christmas. Today’s song is my favorite and are these words ever powerful!
O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born O night, O Holy night, O night divine!
Obedience. As we await our Immanuel’s return, we should take a hint here from Joseph’s response on how to trust God’s wisdom, even when we might not want to. God chose Mary, but the package included Joseph, too. Joseph was in the line of David. That fact alone gave him priority over others, as Jesus’ earthly father would have to be a descendant of King David.
In my opinion, even more important, Mary’s husband-to-be was a “righteous” man. God wisely chose for Mary a man who could handle being the father of God’s only Son. We’ve been focusing on Mary’s response to the greatest honor imaginable. Joseph was also given an immense privilege. He could have easily just walked away. God knew he wouldn’t.
In our Advent reflections, Matthew now weighs in on the return of Jesus. We’ve read through the accounts of Mark and Luke and noticed some overlap. Here again, there are similar themes. As a disciple, Matthew would have had a front row seat to Jesus’ foretelling.
The news Jesus shared about his return would have certainly been hard to believe. Not because Jesus himself is unbelievable, but because the people hearing would not be used to having people go to and from heaven. Death was usually a one-way street. But Jesus’ death was not final. He rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven. Jesus is alive!
Matthew’s gospel comes to an end with these verses. The other gospels spend more time with Jesus and his disciples after the resurrection. Matthew skips right to the point. Jesus answers the question “how will the disciples move forward in their new reality?” We can take the message to heart as well. Our reality is also having a relationship with a resurrected Lord.
So, let’s unpack these verses a little bit to see what it tells us. First of all, the disciples obeyed. They went to the designated place in Galilee to meet up with Jesus. Think for a moment about how they must have been feeling. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions! Over the last number of days (and the text doesn’t tell us for sure how many) they had experienced confusion, fear, disbelief, sorrow, hopelessness, and unspeakable joy. Can you relate to these emotions? Imagine all of them within the course of a few days!?