January 6 is set aside in the church calendar to celebrate the Epiphany, a word that means “revealing.” The Epiphany season runs from January 6 to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.
Epiphany refers to Jesus revealing his divine nature through his humanity. It’s one thing to reveal divinity by doing God-like things in a God-like way, quite another to do God-like things through a human body as Christ did when he turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick and taught with divine authority. By revealing his divinity through his human nature, Jesus elevates our human nature immeasurably.
The Epiphany season starts with the story of the wise men visiting Jesus in Bethlehem as recorded in Matthew 2:1-11. As Matthew tells us, even though the wise men were being guided by a wondrous star, they still “got lost” and ended up stopping in Jerusalem to ask King Herod where the newborn King was. Herod sent them to Bethlehem where they found the Christ child and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The main point of the story, and another important theme of the Epiphany season, is that Jesus is acknowledged as king of all peoples since the wise men were from a foreign country and yet worshiped Jesus, a Jew, as their Savior.
A few years ago I found a plaque in a gift shop that theorizes how the story of the wise men would have been different if it had been wise women instead of wise men. Each year when I decorate for Christmas, I bring our the plaque and hang it on my office door at church. It brings a smile to my face every time I read it:
Three wise women would have
arrived on time,
helped deliver the baby,
brought practical gifts,
cleaned the stable.
and made a casserole.
and there would be peace on earth!
Have a blessed Epiphany season, everyone! By wondrously revealing his divinity through his humanity, Jesus blesses and elevates all of humanity, both male and female.
The featured image of this post is James Tissot’s Journey of the Magi.