If you’ve ever heard someone say they’ve had an epiphany, what they mean is that they have discovered something unexpected. It happens suddenly, not over a period of time, and the revelation must of be something of great worth. The January 6th Epiphany on the Christian calendar commemorates the day the wise men discovered Jesus. Epiphany is the celebration of finding something worth finding.
A couple of weeks ago, our Sunday School lesson focused on how the first Christmas was for a Jewish audience. Joseph and Mary, the inhabitants of Bethlehem, and the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’ birth were all Jews. Jesus came first to his own people, knowing he would be rejected, all to fulfill God’s plan.
This week we looked at Christ’s birth for Gentiles. Consider these words of Simeon, who met Jesus at his dedication at the Jerusalem temple:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)
It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ in his lifetime. Notice that when Jesus was only weeks old, Simeon recognized he was both light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Sometimes we get this funny idea, even if we don’t put it into words, that throughout the Bible God sort of rolls with the punches. Sometimes we make it up as we go along, but that doesn’t mean God does the same. He didn’t come up with the plan of salvation after Israel failed to keep the Law. And offering salvation to the Gentiles was not some sort of plan B when the Jews rejected Jesus.
God knew all along, and the birth, life and death of Jesus were all part of his great plan. The birth of the Christ is good news for all mankind.