Striking Appearance of Jesus Christ
Striking appearance in the meaning of “Epiphany”, which we are celebrating this Epiphany Sunday concerning the striking appearance of Jesus Christ and His presentation by God to the world.
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
5 January 2014
Frank L. Hoffman, Pasto
This is Epiphany Sunday, and it has a two-fold meaning: “striking appearance” which refers to God and the appearance of Jesus Christ to the world, and the celebration which is about the appearing of the Magi. Epiphany is officially on the 6th of January.
Therefore, as we enter this new year, let us look for the striking appearance of God and Jesus Christ in our lives.
But where do we begin to look?
Let’s begin with Romans 1:20.
20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
To us, this is saying that the striking appearance of God can be seen in the wonders of His creation.
For this, and the good things we have, we should be eternally grateful.
And what is the result?
Remember what we are told in Philippians 4:4-8.
4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Even when things are terribly wrong, there are still things to rejoice about, just as Paul tells us in the following verses:
5. Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
If this is how we are, we can see the striking appearance of the Lord in the beauty of His creation and in our hearts and souls.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at Matthew 2:1-12.
1. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
2. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.”
This is very interesting, because the first public recognition of Jesus’ birth was from foreigners, and not from within Israel.
The magi seem to have realized that this King of the Jews was not an ordinary human being, but the Messiah, the Savior.
And even though these magi were not Jewish, they still wanted to be saved, and they believed that this Child indeed was their salvation, and that He would save even non-Jews.
Isn’t this something we can rejoice about?
We believe it is, but not everyone thinks and lives this way.
3. And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Herod was troubled because the striking appearance of another king, especially one that was recognized by non-Jewish foreigners, would jeopardize his own position as the leader of the land.
So, what does he do?
4. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born.
Note carefully that Herod really knew who this other King was, but in spite of this, he only had an evil intent, and was even going to fight against God, just as some people are doing to this very day.
5. And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet,
6. ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler,
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
And the religious leaders also knew the truth.
7. Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared.
8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.”
Herod is lying.
He has no intention of worshiping the Christ Child, whose striking appearance even the magi knew about in a far off land; Herod is secretly seeking to kill Him.
9. And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was.
10. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
This is the way we should all be, but there is evil lurking around them and us.
12. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.
God is warning them, just as the Holy Spirit warns us about the evil things around us.
So again, with these things in mind, let’s take a look at what we are told in Ephesians 3:1-12.
1. For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —
We believe that Paul’s use of the word “prisoner” has a two-fold meaning: that he could no longer escape the fact that Jesus Christ was his Messiah, and that he was a prisoner of the worldly leaders for telling the truth to the people.
2. if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
3. that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
Like Paul, we also are to speak out and write about the good news of Jesus Christ and His call to us to repent of our worldly ways and live as peacemaking children of God, who seek to free creation from its present corruption.
And Paul continues…
4. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5. which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
This is also the revealing of the striking appearance of Jesus Christ, even though Paul is saying this after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
6. to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
7. of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
Remember that this was also revealed to the magi, who were Gentiles, in the very beginning of Jesus’ physical appearance upon the earth.
As with the magi and Paul, this revelation, this striking appearance can occur to every person, if we are willing to receive Him into our minds, and hearts, and souls.
But unfortunately, like Herod, most people are still fighting against God and continuing to corrupt His beautiful creation by harming our fellow human beings, and causing the suffering and death of billions of other animals.
8. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
9. and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;
10. in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
We believe that this is happening, but most people are rejecting it.
There are no half way measures.
We must take the whole package of who Jesus is and the heavenly way he is calling us to live
11. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
12. in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
If only we all had this same boldness and confidence.
But even if most people are still rejecting this good news, we, who believe, are still to speak out with the same boldness and confidence that Paul wrote about.
We can help others to see the striking appearance of Jesus Christ in their hearts and souls.
We can help change this world until most people are willing to live in the heavenly will of God.
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