By CRAIG HARRIS
Matthew 2: 1-2, 9-11 (NIV): After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." ... After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
January 6th, the 12th-day of Christmas, is celebrated by many churches as "Epiphany.” An epiphany is a revelation — a manifestation or appearance. We think of epiphanies as moments when we see or understand something we hadn't before. We also use to word to describe moments when God reveals something to us.
Most churches use the visit of the Magi as part of their Epiphany celebration because the Magi represent the Gentiles. We are not sure who they were, be we know they came a long distance from the east. Epiphany Sunday celebrates the revelation that Jesus Christ is God's son who came to save everyone who believes. It celebrates Immanuel, God with us — that Jesus came as a human being, God in the flesh, to redeem us from our sins and offer us salvation.
The Magi's gifts symbolically tell us who Jesus was (and is). The gold was a gift for a king. The incense was a gift for God, a sweet fragrance that drifts up to heaven. Myrrh was a sweet, expensive, thick oil used to anoint the body of a dead person. These amazing gifts reveal to us who Jesus was: King, God and Savior.
My question to you, though, is have you had this epiphany? Has the light shined on you? Have you come to the moment when you realize that Jesus is the king of kings, God of creation and the savior of mankind? Accept his gift of salvation and invite him to be your personal king, God and savior.
Craig Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek United Methodist Church in Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Pert. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. at Brushy Creek and 11 a.m. at Pert. See more of his columns at www.instantmessagelive.com.