Today is the day of Epiphany. It is a really old celebration and yet, so many of us have no idea what it is or have heard it’s exact significance to the world. So what is it?
The Epiphany commemorates the visit of the wise men or Magi to the Christ Child. Not to be trite, but you could think of it as God’s coming out party.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
Interestingly enough, the day of Epiphany has been celebrated since the end of the second century and in fact, several centuries before Christmas was established as a holiday. It occurs on the 12th day after Christmas about the 6th of January. The Epiphany has also been called the Twelfth Night or Twelfth Day.
The day of Epiphany is celebrated in many countries around the world. The Irish call this day Little Christmas. In Rome, “Epiphania” was transformed into Befana in which a great fair was held and baked pastry was eaten. In Spain, Cuba, Mexico and other Latin countries the day of Epiphany is called El Día de Reyes (Kings’ Day) and they too eat special pastry aptly named, Roscas Day Reyes or The Kings Ring.
All celebrations and the eating of cake aside, the true meaning of the word Epiphany comes from the Greek language meaning “God shining forth”, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles though the revelation of God to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ, God in flesh, incarnate glory, or as the gospel of Luke states, the Lord’s Christ stooped down to earth from the lofty heights of heaven to establish relationship with all mankind. So, why would God leave heaven to dwell with men? He is God, after all. Why would God care to meet puny man, who is mostly oblivious to the ways of heaven? Did God need pets or was He lonely?
God so loved the world that He sent [Grace] into the world so that whoever believes in Him might be bought back by Him in order to be given to the Father for true relationship with the one and only, living God.
This, of course, is the essence of the Epiphany. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth” (Psalm 50:2).