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.
We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain,
Moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
We should all have such curiosity when it comes to Jesus and his saving power. I love how Isaiah 60:1-6 seems to point to this holy affair.
The refrain of this carol points so beautifully to the star which guided these men to presence of Jesus. “O star of wonder, star of night! Star with royal beauty bright; Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light!” What is guiding us these days toward Jesus?
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown him again,
Over us all to reign.
These gifts brought to Jesus remind us of his majesty. He may have only been a young child, but his destiny would change the world. Somehow these wise men had knowledge that would be prophetic, as shown through their choice of gifts. The gold, of course, signifies Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is an aromatic incense known for its healing power. Myrrh would point to Jesus’ death.
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, gladly raising,
Worshipping God Most High.
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
These words are powerful, and the tune is even a bit haunting. Jesus’ time on earth would end in a cold, lonely tomb. Thankfully, we know that’s not the end of the story. It’s merely a new beginning.
Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and Sacrifice;
Heav’n sing alleluia:
Alleluia the earth replies.
As we move on from the Christmas season, let us not forget how the story continues. We are part of that story. We each have a part to play, a mission to complete. Romans 13:11 would suggest our time is limited. “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” There is no time to delay.
Just as the wise men traveled from afar to seek this new king, we should leave behind our old ways and look to Jesus for our new direction. I love the action words of Titus 2:3, “while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” We are living in that “while” right now. Let’s look forward together and draw closer to Jesus each day!
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to return and save us. While I wait, may I walk in your peace and help others to do the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.