Epiphany” – “Season of Compassionate Encounter

Reading:           Matthew 2:1-12

The 12 days of Christmas end on 5th January when, traditionally, the decorations have to be taken down.

On the 6th January we celebrate “Epiphany” symbolising the fact that The Man Born to be King will rule, not by force but by love.  It is the day when we remember the visit of the Magi to The Messiah.

These wise men came from the East, the ancient near East, Persia.  Probably from a Priestly Class.  Experts in Astrology.  Influential Scholars.  Descendants from the Jews exiled in Babylon who knew The Truth of the Scriptures.  They travelled, along with their servants, animals, food for the journey, across mountains, desert, difficult terrain.  They wanted to receive their own personal Epiphany.

They knew that The King of the Jews was to be born.

[1]         They Looked For Him  (v 1-2)

Naturally they would go to the Palace of King Herod.  Isn’t that where The King would be born?  We know the story.  We know the Scriptures (v 6) “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”

They continue to look for Him, following the star, “until it stopped over the place where the child was.”  (v 9b)

They were overjoyed that the star stopped. (v 10) They had found Messiah, Jesus.

[2]         They Stayed With Him

(v 11a) “On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him.”

Some people touch our lives for a moment, a day, a week, years, a lifetime…. But they touch our lives in ways that we never, ever, forget.  They deposit life into us that has eternal perspective.  This was certainly the case for these Magi visiting Messiah – They stayed with Him.

[3]         They Shared With Him

It is true that The Messiah touched the Magi’s lives.  But, it is also true that the Magi touched the Messiah’s Life. (v 11b)  “Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

These were significant, symbolic gifts for Jesus and about Jesus’ destiny.  They were also practical gifts of provision, used to support the family as they were soon to flee to Egypt, to escape Herod.

GOLD”: Declaring “Jesus King of kings!

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s Throne and over His Kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The Zeal of The Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

(Rev 17:14b)  “The Lamb will triumph over them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings!”

FRANKINCENSE”: Declaring “Jesus Priest of priests!

“Therefore, since we have a Great High Priest who has ascended into Heaven, Jesus The Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to emphasise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are and yet He did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

MYRRH”: Declaring “Jesus the Supreme

Jesus states this Truth (John 15:13) “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus knew that His calling, and destiny, involved living a sinless life on earth, dying for the sins of the world.  John the Baptist declared, “Look The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Jesus declared to Nicodemus (John 3:14-15) “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so The Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have Eternal Life in Him.”

What a Powerful Experience the Magi had…

[1] They looked for Jesus!  And found Him!

[2] They stayed with Jesus!  And Worshipped Him!

[3] They shared with Jesus! And Received from Him!

“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:12)

They returned home with a Wonderful Testimony!

I conclude this morning’s message by saying that Epiphany is not just a day, it is the beginning of a season that stretches from 6th January to Shrove Tuesday.

 

 

The Season of Compassionate Encounter.

A season during which we too can, afresh:-

[1] Look for Jesus!  And Find Him!

[2] Stay with Jesus!  And Worship Him!

[3] Share with Jesus!  And Receive From Him!

We held a Tent Mission in Dovecote Lane Park, over 20 years ago.  The Evangelist, Paul Epton, said one night, “Where there is God’s kind of Compassion there are Miracles.”  He described Jesus’ kind of Compassion as, “gut wrenching” – moving Him so deeply.  Divine Love consists of the moving of all our feelings, emotions and passions.

In his book, ‘Out of Solitude’, Henri Nouwen talks about the “Intimacy of Healing.”

Felt Sorrow”  – led to the resurrection of the widow of Nain’s son.

Tears and Distress” – led to the resurrection of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.

Pain of Seeing the Need” – Led to the boy’s donation of 5 loaves and 2 fishes feeding 5,000 men, besides women and children, probably 20,000 people.  With 12 basketfuls left over.

Bringing Jesus’ Miracles to our world involves:-

  • Seeing With Care
  • Participation In The Pain
  • Solidarity In Suffering
  • Sharing In The Experience of Brokenness

May this Epiphany be “A Season of Compassionate Encounter” as we journey on into 2021 and beyond.