by Linda Rex
January 15, 2023, 2nd Sunday in Epiphany—This morning as I write this blog for Epiphany, I find myself still in the season of Christmas. One of the songs running through my head is a hymn called O Come, All Ye Faithful. Part of the hymn goes like this:
“Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning(John Francis Wade; trans. Frederick Oakeley)
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
Oh come, let us adore him
Oh come, let us adore him
Oh come, let us adore him
Christ, the Lord!”
As you can see, the emphasis of this hymn is on the incarnation, on the coming of the Word of God, the Son of the Father, as God in human flesh.
What struck me this morning as the song rolled through my head is that this hymn calls us once again to come to the side of the manger, to gaze anew upon the wonder of the Christ child–God’s gift to humankind—and calls us to worship. Once again, we kneel in adoration as we look upon this precious and wondrous gift to all of us.
Our Old Testament reading for today is full of prophetic pointers to the coming of this child: “The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me”; “…the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to him…”; “…I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:1b, 5a, 6b NASB). When we take the time to prayerfully and reverently observe this holy child, to contemplate what God has done in coming to us in this way, we are moved to worship in gratitude for God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Who is this marvelous child which sparks such celebration and wonder? Who is Jesus? Epiphany, then, is an expression of this wonderful sense of “Eureka” we get when we discover the amazing treasure of God in human flesh. God comes to us in a real and personal way, to join us in our mess, to raise us up into a new existence with him in the Spirit and one day in glory. What a good and compassionate and gracious God we have!
The apostle Paul calls us to a deep appreciation of God’s gift to us in the New Testament reading for this Sunday. He reminds us of “the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor.1:4b-8 NASB). Jesus, in his incarnation, came to live a truly human life, to forge within our human flesh our capacity to live in right relationship with God (and others). When Jesus is fully revealed in glory, we will be found blameless, because of what he has done. We lack nothing—because of him.
In our gospel reading, John 1:29–42, John the Baptizer saw Jesus approaching and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The first word is “Behold.” To behold something is to gaze upon it with intense attention. Here, in the Greek, it is used to point to what is being said next—that this man is the Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world. We need to pay attention to this reality about who Jesus is. Jesus is this one—the one who takes away the sin of the world. Not just the sin of a few special people. Not just the sin of the people who get their acts together. But the sin of the world.
This is a eureka moment—a moment when we pay attention to a revelation about who Jesus is—the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the one unique Son of God, the One who left the benefits of divinity for a time to join us in our humanity, in order to do what only he could do—free us from sin, from all that stands in the way of being rightly related to God.
There were a couple of John the Baptizer’s disciples who were profoundly affected by the prophet’s words regarding Jesus. They heard that this man, Jesus, was the one who baptizes in the Spirit. And they heard John say that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. So they did what each of us needs to do—they followed Jesus. As they did, Jesus asked them what they were seeking. They asked where Jesus was staying, perhaps in hopes of having a deeper conversation with him. So Jesus said to them, “Come and you will see.”
If we never take the time to come and see, to stop long enough to listen and learn more about who Jesus is and why he came, we will continue upon our life’s path, never any wiser regarding what really matters. But if we slow down and come to Jesus and sit at his feet awhile, gazing upon him and pondering all he has done, is doing, and will do, we will begin to see the truth about who he is and why he came. As we take time in his presence to converse with him, to dialogue with Christ through prayer, study of his Word, meditation, and the other spiritual disciplines, the Spirit will enable us to see more clearly who Jesus is. And the Spirit will even enable us to begin to see more clearly who we are, and how much we need Christ to transform, heal, and renew us. We will begin to see we are beloved of the Father, and are included in Jesus’ own relationship with his Father in the Spirit. And we will have even more reason to celebrate and worship the Lord.
Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to us, to bring everyone of us salvation. May we turn away again from all the things in this life which distract us and draw us away from focused attention on our Lord Jesus. Throughout this new year, may your Spirit enable us to have many eureka moments when we see anew and embrace again the wonder of your most perfect and precious gift—Jesus our Lord. Amen.
“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.’ John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).” John 1:29–42 NASB
[Printable copy: https://newhope4me.files.wordpress.com/2023/01/olitcome-and-you-will-see.pdf ]
[More devotionals may be found at https://lifeinthetrinity.blog ]
[Subscribe to Our Life in the Trinity YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@ourlifeinthetrinity ]