Epiphany: A season of reflection and response to the revealed glory of Christ
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
The Ancient, Present, & Future Tense Of the Gospel
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a story that is rooted in the ancient past, culminates in the redemption moment of Christ on the the cross, and stretches into the infinite reaches of eternity. The Gospel is good news. Not good news for some people at one moment in time, but good news for all peoples for all time.
The first words of the Gospel of John beautifully echo the ancient and incredibly important words most of his readers would have immediately resonated with, “In the beginning…”. John begins this telling of the gospel story with the beginning of all things; his beginning is the Genesis moment that gave life to all things – Creation itself.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
Jesus Christ, the embodied and eternal Word of God, existed before all things and from him came all things. Jesus is the active agent in Creation, as the Father speaks and the Son forms all things and the Spirit brings life to Creation.
The Real Jesus
Jesus is many things to many people. But to the writers of the the New Testament, and specifically John in his Gospel, Jesus is the Son of God. This is who Jesus is. It is not enough to call Jesus a good teacher, a radical reformer, or a moral man. The Bible has no category for thinking of Jesus in this way. He is either the Maker and Sustainer of all things and the God of the Universe, or he is to be ignored. He’s either holy or wholly irrelevant.
All of Scripture is tied together. The whole of the Bible is connected by God’s narrative of redemption. And Jesus is the fulfillment of every promise in the entire Bible. And in this season of Epiphany, this glorious reality is in focus: Jesus is the glory of God made manifest in human form right before our eyes.
Pushing Back What’s Dark In The World
John’s Gospel narrative hones in on a part of Jesus’ life and ministry on Earth that was so provocative, so enraging, and so offensive that it got him killed. Those in power in the religious system that Jesus and his family belonged to hated Jesus for saying that the Kingdom of God was for the whole world. Not just for one ethnic or religious group. Not just for one class or culture But for the whole world:
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:9
From the beginning of the story of God, all people of the earth were made to glorify God as they flourished in ever abounding, never ending joy in this world. Sin broke things down, and brought about division where there was distinction. Instead of diversity being beautiful expressions of the Image of God, differences in humanity became battle lines and cultural enclaves.
But from the beginning, God promised to form for himself a people from every tribe, tongue and nation. Genesis 12:1-3 is the first explicit promise from God that he will see to it that the world he made will be redeemed, and that a multi-ethnic family would form from every corner of this magnificent and hurting world.
Epiphany is a time to recalibrate around God’s redemptive mission. For us to see the real Jesus, we must first see that he is the glory of God embodied in human form. That he is the supreme Glory that holds all of the universe together and is the fulfillment of the desire of every human heart. Secondly, seeing the real Jesus means seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise to form for himself a people from every part of the world. God’s heart for every culture, every color, every man, woman and child, is no more clearly seen that in Christ himself. For he is the light of the world, come to push back the darkness and bring the Kingdom of God to every kingdom of Man on the planet.
Scripture Readings For Week 2
- Genesis 1:1-31
- Genesis 12:1-3
- Psalm 19
- Psalm 67:4, Psalm 96:10
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Colossians 1:15-22
Questions For Reflection
- Who is Jesus to you? Is he your Lord? Or is he a religious figure? Are there areas of your life that you are trying to stay in charge of instead of submitting to the Lordship of Christ? Think of prejudices, insecurities, sinful patterns, relationships, etc.
- How can you arrange your life around the redemptive mission of God to form for himself a people from every color and culture in the world? What do your relationships look like? Do you spend time with people just like you or are you joining Jesus in his mission among people from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, religions, social classes, etc?
- Is there a specific racial, social, political, or other kind of group of people that you tend to disdain or avoid? Ask the Lord to teach you how to love those who you find the most unlovable. Pray for opportunities this Epiphany season to demonstrate love and build relationships with those people, and others who are ethnically and culturally different than you.
Jesus, King of the Universe, help me to see the ways in which I have a small and inaccurate view of you. You are the one who made the Universe, holds all things together, and who sustains my very life. Fill my heart with a fresh revelation of you as I read your word and seek your face in prayer. I don’t want to follow a construct or religious figure. I want to see and savor the real Jesus in real life.
Jesus, I confess my fear and discomfort in pursuing relationships with people who are different than me. There are people that I simply don’t know how to, or sometimes want to love. Change my heart with the power of the gospel by the work of the Holy Spirit. So that I might love my neighbors as you have loved me. Amen.