Epiphany is the season in the Church year when we celebrate the coming of the light of Christ into a very dark world. It is a world-changing event that we can never fully comprehend. Epiphany is sometimes referred to as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles – represented by the Magi, that rather odd set of characters introduced to us in Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-12). While tradition has promoted them to be Kings of the Orient and even given them names – Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar – we really know very little about them from the scriptures.
The story of the Magi’s search for the One who was born the King of the Jews has inspired generations. The story begins in the East, as they study the heavens looking for messages. They conclude that something, or someone, remarkable is about to be born and make a perilous journey to investigate further. Along the way they consult with King Herod and finally make their way to Bethlehem, where they find the infant Jesus with his family. After offering their extravagant gifts that have been the subject of many sermons and Epiphany pageants, they are warned in a dream about Herod’s ulterior motives and return home “by another way.” It is a story that never gets old with the retelling and appeals to all ages. It combines elements of a fascinating adventure story and of supernatural revelations that stretch the mind, no matter how sophisticated we think we have become.
Epiphany season is a good time to remember the many ways in which God still reveals himself to us. For some, those revelations are dramatic and life changing …
One of the classic moments of personal revelation was recorded by John Wesley in his journal of May 24, 1738:
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society meeting in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading [Martin] Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
Thus the Methodist movement was born and the course of Christianity in England, the US, and beyond was changed for good!
— Art and the Bible (@artbible) August 23, 2019