Today is the Epiphany of the Lord, the day when the evidence of Jesus as the Son of God is considered and pondered. Sometimes this day points to God identifying Jesus at his baptism. And within this same week the lectionary scripture passages take up the theme of Jesus’ baptism. But for today our focus and setting is when the Wise Men come to see the baby Jesus. Ad if it seems slightly out of step from the other passages, that is because the RCL separates out this day from whatever other passages might be used.
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (Matthew 2:1-12)
And the Old Testament passage continues this theme with passage from Isaiah.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” (Isaiah 60:1-6)
Scripture, and the intersection of scripture passages, make it abundantly clear that Jesus was always ordained to be the Son of God. From infancy on that fact is made apparent over and over again. In the temple when he was presented, and again when he is a young boy staying in the temple for several days talking with the temple leaders. And if we let that be our focus, it might be hard to allow ourselves to think about Jesus as being human like one of us. All this week we have been seeing Jesus as holy and divine, and the Son of God the mighty Creator. But that is Jesus seen through the lens of the Divine. I am hoping that there will be other scripture passages in the coming weeks that allow us to feel humanity of Jesus. Someone we can come to when the road we are is tough, and our strength is giving out. Because that is an important aspect of Jesus also. Shalom.