The “aha” moments of seeing the Light.
There are three “aha” events associated with the season of Epiphany. They are the visit of the Magi (wise men) from the East, Jesus’ baptism by John in the river Jordan, and Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine. What is your “aha” moment?
The Magi and the star
Only Matthew shares the story of the Magi, who aren’t named. Their identity isn’t nearly as important as their story. They had an “aha” moment when they saw a new star. Here are some interesting points:
- The Bible doesn’t say how many Magi there were. Tradition determined the number from the three gifts given.
- The term Magi was used to identify astrologers, seers, and fortune tellers. The story leads us to believe these men studied the stars, and all three discovered a new one, which they followed from the East all the way to Bethlehem.
- They called the star “his star,” indicating this was a new light in the skies, from which they determined it was the star of a future king. We can only speculate how that was determined.
- They gave three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Tradition tells us gold is for a king, incense for God, and myrrh used to anoint the dead.
The dove and the identity
All four Gospels share the story of Jesus’ baptism, which was an “aha” moment for all four of them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke use similar terminology describing this event:
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 NRSVUE)
Not only was this a miraculous vision, but it was also a clear identification of who Jesus is. This event caused a number to “see the light” and start to follow Jesus. Two disciples began following Jesus right after John shared the story of Jesus’ baptism (John 1:35-36).
The water and the wine
John shares the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. I love how he finishes the story:
Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee and revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11 NRSVUE)
Epiphany “aha” moments lead to belief.
- The wise men saw the light in a star, and they believed.
- The Gospel writers saw the light in the descending of a dove and hearing the identity of the Messiah, and they believed.
- The disciples saw the light in the miracle of water being turned into wine and seeing Jesus’ glory, and they believed.
I like the way Bobby Gross summarizes this season on page 84 in his book, “Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God.”
The season of Epiphany is a season for seeing more of Christ’s glory by focusing on his life and mission. Simultaneously, it’s a time for making that glory better to known those around us. We bear witness to what we have seen and learned and experienced.”
Epiphany is a time to pay close attention to “seeing” what Jesus has done and what he is doing. As Jesus said to the disciples in John’s Gospel, “Come and see” (John 1:39). When we see we can share by telling the story – the story of Jesus, the story of how Jesus has transformed us, the story of his love for all. And when we tell the story, more and more have “aha” moments and see the light.
Following are some spiritual practices for the season of Epiphany:
- Ask God for a specific person with whom you can share your story of transformation in Christ. Ask him for the courage to share that story.
- Choose a few friends to specifically pray for during Epiphany; ask God to help them see how Jesus is impacting their lives.
- Read through the book of John and focus on the miracles he shares; how does each miracle show a bit more about who Jesus is.
- Pay attention to some God sightings or divine appointments and treat each as an “aha” moment. Then share some of these moments with someone else.
- Ask God to help you have the courage to mention Jesus more in natural conversation with friends, family, and coworkers.
May God fill you with “aha” moments throughout the season of Epiphany. Please feel free to share them.