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Epiphany: Christ Manifests Himself

Epiphany: Christ Manifests Himself

December 27, 2009 | Andrew Davis
Matthew 2:1-12
Incarnation

sermon transcript

Introduction: What is Epiphany?

Traditional Date: January 6th

Recently, I was reading an article in National Geographic on some of the new-fangled telescopes that they're making that are apparently going to be multiple times stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope, and yet here on Earth. They will be in Chile, in other places, and they are just huge. But I was really arrested by the opening paragraph as the author writes, he said this, “When you start stargazing with a telescopetwo experiences typically ensueFirstyou are astonished by the viewSaturn's golden ringsstar clusters glittering like jewelry on black velvetgalaxies aglow with gentle ancient starlight. Second, you soon want a bigger telescope” Later in the article, he said this, "A telescope doesn't just show you what's out there, it impresses upon you how little you know," and that kind of awareness is sometimes called an epiphany, an awareness of just how little you know.

That word was on my mind as I was writing this sermon, epiphany, is a date on the church calendar, not our church, generally, we don't follow the liturgy in the church calendar, but genuinely, January 6 is Epiphany. I was raised Roman Catholic - don't be afraid, dear Baptist friends - I'm not bringing us back to Rome or back to the church calendar, but I was thinking about this word epiphany, the Feast of Epiphany follows the 12-day feast of Christmas, it's generally associated with the visit of the Magi. That is a Biblical focal event.

Definition

Now, what does the word means? It's really a transliteration of a Greek word, which means to manifest or to show or to display. In the Greek religion, in the Greek religious world, there would sometimes be a sudden unveiling or manifestation of a divine being, sometimes the Pantheon, the Gods would come down in human form, and suddenly you'd realize you're in Zeus' presence. The word is actually used in multiple ways in other fields, for example, there are books that have Epiphanies, authors that write them in, sudden awakening or perception about the true nature of something, an illuminating discovery, that kind of thing, realization or disclosure. Short story writer, O Henry, delighted in these kinds of things, and every Christmas we read The Gift of the Magi, I don't know if you've ever read that one, but it's a pleasant little story, a short story, and epiphany is right in the center of that one. It's a story about two young newlyweds who are living in a 19th century tenement, some poor dwelling. They have almost no money, but they want to give precious gifts to each other, and so, the young woman sells her hair, she cuts off her hair to a wig maker, so that she can buy a chain for her husband's precious inheritance, his pocket watch, which he sells to buy some combs for her hair. And so, they have an epiphany, really of not just what each had done, but of the love they have for each other. He called it The Gift of the Magi, because he centers it on the idea of that kind of a sacrificial gift, and the gift ultimately of Christ to us.

It happens in other fields too, not just literature, but science.  Perhaps you've heard the story of Archimedes who was hired by a local Greek tyrant to pursue a jeweler, who he thinks had cheated him. This King thought that the jeweler had made a crown that was supposed to be pure gold out of partly silver, partly gold, and he wanted Archimedes to find out whether it was so without destroying the crown. Hard to do. But he was there at the local bath, and as he got into the bath and saw the water spill out, he had an idea concerning what we know as specific gravity, how some things are -you know, displace more weight, and he said, “Eureka,” which means, I found it. He had an epiphany, he figured out how to do it. And so, science throughout time has had those kind of moments, Isaac Newton with the apple falling, and he thinks about gravity. Albert Einstein's father gave him when he was five years old a compass, and he kept trying to get the needle to end up somewhere other than true north, and he couldn't do it. And he started thinking about this mystical force, this magnetic force, and it got him thinking ultimately toward Physics.

Basic Concept

So, these kind of moments of epiphany are around us all the time, but I want to focus on the true epiphany that there is in the world, and that is not anything that we discover about ourselves, some new insight about yourself, good or bad, I don't mean that. Anything we discover about the physical nature or scientific world around us, however valuable that might be. Or something you discover in history, or a surprise ending in literature, none of that. The true epiphany is Christ Himself. That Christ would manifest Himself to you. That's my desire this morning. If that happens, I will have succeeded today. That Christ would in some way reveal Himself to you, manifest Himself to you. Christ is an infinite being, the second person of the trinity, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, very God from very God begotten, not made. Being of one substance with the Father through whom all things were made. He is the ancient of days, living in eternal union with the Father, eternal relationship, good fellowship with the Father. Through Christ, God the Father created all things. Everything that was created was created through Christ, and there's not a person in this room here today that fully and perfectly and completely knows Christ. You all have more learning to do as do I, and it will take an eternity of epiphanies, of new moments of insight, of new flashes of inspiration. And I contend, I'm going to end up the sermon there, I'm just telling you where I'm going, that's what we're going to spend eternity doing. Having more and more manifestations of Jesus, more and more insights into the greatness of Christ. We're going to spend eternity that way. This is the central business of our lives that we might know God, the only true God, and that we might know Christ whom God the Father has sent. That is eternal life.

Christ Manifested to the Magi

Account Given in Matthew 2:1-12

So let's focus on this first epiphany, the one that they do in the church calendar is this one to the Magi in Matthew Chapter 2. You can look there in your Bibles, if you like, at the account, Matthew 2:1-12. Keith read it for us, I'm going to go over it again, just to have the words in your mind. Matthew Chapter 2, "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship Him.' When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 'In Bethlehem, in Judea,' they replied. For this is what the prophet has written. But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler, who will be the shepherd of my people, Israel. Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report back to me, so that I too may go and worship him.' After they had heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."

Who Were the Magi?

Now, who were these Magi? There are lots of popular considerations of them, they have grasped the imagination of people reading these accounts for 2000 years. You've sung the hymn “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Eric told me he bumped it from the worship service after reading my sermon manuscript, so it's alright to sing “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” We don't know for sure if there were three, and we don't know for sure that they were kings. Maybe, maybe not. So go ahead and sing it, but just know, maybe, maybe not, as you sing, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Marvin Vincent in Word Studies in the New Testament said this, "Many absurd traditions and guesses respecting these visitors to our Lord's cradle have found their way into popular belief and into Christian art. They were said to be kings and three in number, they were said to be representatives of the three families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and therefore one of them is pictured as an Ethiopian. Their names are given as Gaspar, and Balthasar, and Melchior and their three skulls said to have been discovered in the 12th century by Bishop Rainald of Cologne are exhibited in a priceless casket in the great cathedral of that city. So during the Middle Ages and Medieval Roman Catholic times, when Pilgrims were going all over Europe to seek out relics and to worship based on those relics, they would go to Cologne and there would be these three skulls with three golden crowns, one on each skull. How weird is that? And there's this huge gold and silver box with Crystal, and you're looking through these skulls and you kneel down and worship something. I'm not sure what you're worshipping at that reliquary, but there they were, and they would look at these skulls. It’s hard to prove or disprove concerning the skulls, but that's the way it was with relics in the Middle Ages, but who were the Magi?

Well, in the Old Testament world, the Greek historian Herodotus said the Magi were a priestly caste from the Medes. The Medes live in the land we now know as Iran, modern Iran, Persia. They were very active throughout the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, especially in Babylon during the Old Testament era. They were originally priests in the early form of that religion that came to be known as Zoroastrianism. They had an altar on which they claimed there was a perpetual flame that had come down from heaven. They kept it burning forever, and they offered on it blood sacrifices. Zoroastrianism had become the official religion of Persia by the 6th century BC. It's still practiced today in India by the Parsis who were refugees, who fled from the Muslims in the 7th century AD. So the Parsis still practice Zoroastrianism and are probably the descendants of the Magi. The Magi religion is monotheistic and bears some resemblance outwardly to Judaism, but it has deep roots in the occult. Magi used demonic practices such as sorcery and astrology and wizardry and divination of dreams and communication with the dead, and other occultic practices that are strictly forbidden in scripture. The words magic and magician come from the Magi. In the Babylonian kingdom, Magis were extremely influential in Nebuchadnezzar's court.

They figure prominently in the Book of Daniel. So they were counselors and advisors. They looked at the stars or they interpreted dreams, and in this way, they could give information to Kings. And thus the word magistrate also comes from the Magi. Magis had a special skill in interpreting dreams, but Nebuchadnezzar apparently didn't trust it as you remember in Daniel Chapter 2, he wanted the Magi to tell him what his dream was and then to interpret. They needed to clear their supernatural credentials with him first, and no one could do that, except that God revealed it to Daniel in a dream. "'And you remember the substance of that dream, and the substance of it was of a statue with a head of gold and chest and arms of silver and belly and thighs of bronze and legs of iron and feet, partly iron and partly clay that represented the flow of human history and how a rock was cut out, but not by human hands, and it struck that statue and turned it into chaff and a wind blew all the chaff away, but the rock that was cut out, that supernatural rock became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth."' And Daniel interpreted and said, 'In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all of those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.'" Now, you know what happened, Daniel became basically the chief of the Magi, at that point. He was promoted and was in charge of all the Magi. Do you think it's possible he might have more fully instructed the Magi in that kingdom, in the prophecies that Isaiah and Jeremiah and others had given concerning that coming king? I don't think it's a stretch to think that Daniel would have trained them, the Magi concerning this.

Well, if you fast forward ahead to the time of Christ, the Magi suddenly appear in the court of King Herod. Verse 1 and 2, "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem and Judea, during the time of King Herod, here come these Magi from the east. And where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw a star in the east and have come to worship Him." At this time, Magi would still have had tremendous influence in the Middle East. Of course, the power of the West was Rome, but they were centered around the Mediterranean Sea. All the other empires up to that point had been mostly eastward-type empires, heading toward India, going that direction. The Babylonian, the Medes, and the Persians, the Greeks, Alexander went right to the Indus River, going east, going east. Rome was West, and Rome basically face west and went up north toward France and Britain. And East and West kind of met in the Middle East, right around Palestine. There was at that time a mighty kingdom called the Parthian Empire. And the Romans and the Parthians had numbers of battles and a struggle for supremacy. The Magi were instrumental as pretty much king makers in the Parthian Empire, and so, they would identify who the coming kings were at the Parthian Empire.

So the Magi show up in the court of King Herod. Now, Herod is a Roman puppet, he's a puppet king in a buffer state between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire. So you can imagine why Herod would have been so disturbed by the Magi showing up. More than anything, I think Herod feared that some usurper, some king would come and take his place, he was utterly paranoid about that, so he would have been disturbed anyway by anyone coming to see a King born. But the Magi would have arrived with some pomp and circumstance, they would have shown up perhaps with a small army. John MacArthur says it's likely that they were wearing conical-shaped hats, like we associate with wizards. Probably not riding camels, but most likely riding Arabian steeds. And so, they would have been quite a forceful show. Meanwhile, Herod's army is out there helping with the census, so he would have felt threatened in every way by these Magi. King Herod heard the news about what the Magi were asking. "He was disturbed," it says, "and all Jerusalem with him." The word troubled, it means troubled, they're greatly agitated, shaken to the roots. Isn't it amazing how much earthly leaders seek selfishly to hold on to their power and they're willing to do anything to do it?

So Herod starts an investigation. He starts interestingly with a Biblical investigation. Calls in his Bible experts. All the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born? "'In Bethlehem, in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written: 'But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people, Israel,''" quoting Micah Chapter 5. So he does a little Biblical investigation. Secondly, he investigates with the Magi themselves. He calls them in secretly, and he finds out from the Magi the exact time that the star had appeared in the East. And then we see his false motives. "King Herod sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and make a careful search for the child. And as soon as you find him, report back to me, so I too may go and worship him.'" So he's trying to find out now an actual literal location of where this baby is.

Now, Herod was one of the most murderous kings in that region's history. He was a thoroughly evil man. He was successful in politics, but he was bitterly unhappy in his private life. He married 10 wives, seeking to find happiness one after the other, including the beautiful Hasmonean Princess Mariamne who he loved passionately, but then had murdered. Later in 7 BC, he had her two sons killed as well. His favorite son, Antipater, he found conspiring against him and had him killed as well four days before his own death. And yet for all of that, he fanatically kept the Mosaic dietary regulations. He wouldn't eat any pork. And so therefore, Roman emperor Augustus said about Herod, "I would rather be Herod's pig than Herod's son." And so, it's not a stretch to imagine why he would, at the end of Matthew 2, slaughter all of the infants in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under. Clearly not worried about collateral damage, but he wanted to be sure that this infant was killed. So that was Herod. Herod's offer of worship was clearly false. Oh may it not be that way with us. "'These people honor me with their lips,' said the Lord, 'but their hearts are far from me.'" What is the nature of our worship toward Christ? Herod was a hypocrite, a liar. He didn't have any intention of worshipping Christ, but the Magi were different.

The Worship of the Magi

The Lord had done, I believe, a supernatural work in the Magi's heart. The worship of the Magi, I believe, was sincere. Look at Verses 9-11, "After they heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. And when they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." So now we come to the epiphany, Christ disclosing himself, or God the Father, disclosing Christ to these Magi. Christ disclosed himself to the Magi in multiple ways. Let's start with Scripture. I believe that that's probably where they first heard about the King of the Jews, not from the star, but from the prophecies, maybe as early as the time of Daniel, but certainly through multiple interactions with the Jews who were scattered throughout that region, and so they are aware of the prophetic word, the Jews were conquered people. It did not seem like anything would come from the stump of Jesse, but God had planned that a shoot would come up from the stump of Jesse, he had said it through Isaiah the prophet. And like the thief on the cross who looked over to a dying Jesus and said, "Remember me Lord, when you come in your kingdom," so also these believers in the prophecies were able to look not at the present circumstances of Israel, but at the prophecies and the power of God behind them, that some day there would be a glorious king of the Jews who would rule over all the earth. And so the Magi were not in fact king makers in this case, they were just king recognizers; they recognized that Jesus was born King of the Jews. And so the epiphany came first through Scripture, through the prophecies.

Secondly, it came through the star, the supernatural star, never has there ever been a star like this star, and never will be again, I would imagine. It was a remarkable star, it was a star that led them on a journey, it moved. It was a moving star, movable star. I don't know what it is, and it's always humorous to go over to the UNC planetarium and they suppose what it was, or aligning up. Look, I'm telling you what, planets don't line up and move over a specific house in Bethlehem, amen, they don't do that. And so this was a moving star, so it was high up in the sky enough that it was seen to be a star, but it was moving. It was traveling. They had never seen anything like this, and it caused them to get their entourage together and move out. I don't know what it was. Some believers think it might have been somewhat like the Shekinah Glory of God, you know how God moved in a pillar of fire and led the Jews through the promised land in that way, and maybe he just kind of shortened it down to a star up in the sky, or maybe it was an angel. Sometimes angels are called stars. An angel who just shone with a certain radiance it looked like a star and moved, and when they saw the star stop in Bethlehem, right over the house where Jesus was, they're overjoyed. And I don't think it's a stretch to think that there was some kind of light that then shone down on the specific house. Bethlehem was a town, a village, maybe even a little city, and a specific place was identified by the light of the star, and so I don't think that the Christmas card artists are too far off when they show a star up in the sky and a light coming down right onto the house where Jesus was.

But now comes the true epiphany, and that is that this little baby should be worshipped, worshipped. "On coming to the house, they saw the child at last, with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him." The epiphany was not complete without seeing the face of the baby, and perhaps their motives would have been mixed maybe somewhat political, I don't know what all their motives were in moving out and making that journey, but their motives and falling on their face and worshipping the baby were simple. This baby was God. And I believe that God the Father had revealed his son to them. This was the epiphany. Jesus said this in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day." So the epiphany of Jesus was a direct revelation to their hearts of the true identity of this baby, not merely King of the Jews, but Son of God, that's why they worshipped.

What is the Significance of their Visit?

Now, what was the significance of their visit? I think their visit itself was a sort of acted out prophecy of the future success of the kingdom of Christ. These Magi were Gentiles, and they were coming to open up their hearts and their treasuries and pour out blessing on the Christ. It's a picture, I think, of the success of the Gospel among the Gentiles worldwide. Certainly the gold and the incense and the myrrh, pre-figure certain aspects of Christ's ministry, gold, Kings, a treasure and incense somewhat the priestly aspect used in the Levitical priestly ministry, and then myrrh was used to wrap up dead bodies and used to wrap up Jesus' body as well, a prediction of the death of Christ as well.

But I think even more, there's a sense that these Gentiles, these significant Gentiles have traveled a distance to come and worship Jesus and give gifts of worship to Him. And so it says in Isaiah 60 and Verse 11, speaking of the New Jerusalem, where Jesus will sit on His throne and He will receive worship for all eternity. And it says in Isaiah 60 and Verse 11, speaking of the New Jerusalem, "Your gates will always stand open. They will never be shut day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations-- their kings led in triumphal procession." Picking up on the same idea of the Lord, moved, John in the Book of Revelation, to describe that Holy City, the new Jerusalem. In Revelation 21, "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. And the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it. Glory in the honor of the nations will be brought into the New Jerusalem. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life". So this is the epiphany, the revelation of the identity of Christ to these wandering Magi, but the epiphanies, dear friends, were just beginning at that point.

Christ Manifested to the Jews by His Life

The Apostle John’s Statement

Christ's physical life on earth was an epiphany, a revelation of God the Father. The Apostle John said this in John 1:14, "The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." Jesus' life in the body was an epiphany of God's nature. Anyone who sees him has seen the Father. And so John also writes in 1 John 1:2, "The life appeared; we have seen it, and we testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared" - same Greek word, epiphany – "has appeared to us." So Jesus' life in the body was an epiphany of the nature of God.

John the Baptist’s Testimony

So also at the moment of John the Baptist testimony concerning him, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, He's revealing His mission. But he did more than that. John the Baptist said this to huge numbers of people who were standing around, and a huge entourage, every day, people went out to be baptized by John, and John proclaimed this, "'I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was so that he might be revealed'" -that's a word, epiphany – "'revealed to Israel.' Then John gave this testimony, 'I saw the spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. I myself would not have known Him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me the man on whom you see the spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that He is the Son of God.'" So even John wouldn't have known Him except that God revealed it to him.

The Miracles of Jesus

The miracles of Jesus were each one of them epiphanies. Each one of them, a revelation of the nature of God and of the power of Christ, the identity of Christ. For example, the first one, after changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana in Galilee, John made the statement in John 2:11, "This the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed" –epiphany – "he thus revealed His glory and His disciples put their trust in him." So Jesus' miracles were displays of Christ, displays of his compassion, displays of his knowledge and of His power, and displays of His love and His nature. At the end of that gospel of John, John wrote this, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And that by believing you may have life in His name."

Has that happened to you? Has God revealed - God the Father - revealed the Son to you in such a way that you have life in His name? Have you trusted in Him? Have you known His power to transform a sinful heart? I plead with you, come to Christ. I plead with you to believe in Jesus, you are hearing the gospel this morning that God became man, that He suffered and died on a cross, his blood was shed for the sins of the world. That if you simply trust in Him, your sins can be forgiven. My desire is that as I speak these words, the Holy Spirit will be revealing Christ in some heart today who's never seen him before like he or she should. That today would be for you, the day of salvation. Trust in Him, that's why the miracles were done originally, and that's why they were written in the book, so that we might know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Oh, may God reveal it to you.

Peter’s Confession

Remember Peter's confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Do you remember what Jesus said? "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven." If the Father will reveal Christ to you you'll be saved. You will see the light of the glory of Christ and you will be saved.

Revealed by His Resurrection from the Dead

It's an epiphany. And it happened when Christ was raised from the dead as well. It says in Romans 1:4, "who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead." A display of the glory of God and the resurrection of Christ. Now, that's why we're here today. When I was growing up, you always went to church on Christmas Day. And I was talking to my sister out about it. “You don't have a service on Christmas Day,” I said we do if it lands on Sunday. We celebrate the Lord's day because he rose from the dead. And there's an intimate connection between the birth of Christ and the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It's why he came to defeat death, took on a human body for that reason, and what an epiphany that was.

Christ Manifested to Individuals by the Gospel

As the Gospel is Preached, Christ is Revealed

And so even now, dear friends, around the world, there are more epiphanies than we can count. Hundreds of thousands of them every day, just like the one that happened to Simon Peter, an epiphany of Jesus, when the gospel is preached, the gospel is the power of God for salvation. And while the gospel is being preached, the Holy Spirit then does something in the human heart, takes out that heart of stone and puts in that heart of flesh, opens eyes of the heart, that were blind to Jesus, and suddenly the light shines in, and it's an epiphany of Christ. As the gospel is proclaimed, very, very plainly, Christ is manifested and he appears. Christ is publicly portrayed in Galatians 3, as crucified.

That Vision Saves Souls! Epiphanies All Over the Earth

We proclaim Christ, we portray Christ, and then the Holy Spirit reveals Christ in the heart and people are saved. Christ is manifested every moment also, moment by moment in the hearts of believers too. Are you done with epiphanies? You done with manifestations of Christ? Do you have enough Jesus? Thank you very much. Oh, no Christian would ever say that. The apostle Paul put it this way, in Philippians 3:10, "I want to know Christ." If you want to ask me what I want, "I want to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing, the sufferings," I want more of Jesus. This is an apostle who had written the book of Romans, who had done all these magnificent things, he had been caught up to paradise, and all it did is make him want more of Jesus.

Christ Manifested to Believers by the Spirit

The More You Obey Christ, the More of Himself He Will Disclose to You

Do you have enough Jesus or Christian friend? Or would you like some more epiphany? Would you like some more revelation? Well, turn in your Bibles to John chapter 14, and verse 21. I want to give you the secret for a lifetime of epiphanies. Here's the secret right here in John's gospel. It's not much of a secret because I've told you probably 40 times before, but I'm going to show it to you again. John 14, and verse 21. You want to know more of Jesus? You're feeling distant from him? You're feeling cold toward Christ? Is your heart a little hardened? You don't feel His presence in your life? John 14:21 is the answer for you. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me, and whoever loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and will…" What do you have? "…manifest," disclose, reveal "myself to him." Same Greek root, not epiphany, but related to it, He will show, he will display Himself to you continually, if you meet the criteria.

Daily Life a Series of Epiphanies for the Obedient Christian

Look at it again. Whoever has my commandments. What does it mean? You have to know what they are. What are the commandments of Christ? Where are they found? They're found in the written Word of God. Saturate your mind with the commands of Christ, find out what he wants you to do. Know the Word of God, re-dedicate yourself in 2010 to taking in the Word of God. Let Him speak to you what His commands are for you, and every day those commandments stand over you and beckon you upward in terms of epiphany, beckon you upward to more and more revelation of Christ, those commands do. Suppose he commands you by the Spirit and by the Word to give some money away to missions, and if you obey, He will manifest himself to you in some new way, he will reveal Himself, His heart for the nations, he will soften your heart a little bit more toward the work of God. If you don't, he won't. It's a conditional promise here.

 If he commands you to share your faith with a co-worker at the workplace, and if you overcome your fear and your self-focus and all of those things, oh, how sweet it would be to be free from the fear of man. Amen? To just not even care what people think about you, to not even care, but just if you overcome that fear and you just witness faithfully and you share the gospel and show your heart, your love for souls, he will disclose Himself to you. He may not disclose it to the person you're witnessing to, but he'll disclose himself to you, and if you don't, he won't - not in that way. You'll have missed a blessing. If he commands you to seek his face in prayer, to give a little more time in prayer, perhaps even fasting - when was the last time you fasted? Maybe God will call on you to fast and pray just for a simple purpose, I want to see Christ more clearly. I want to focus a little more on Christ, than I have recently. I feel a deadness, a dullness in my heart, and if you obey that command and go seek his face in prayer and put everything aside and seek for Him with all of your heart, you will find Him and He will display or manifest himself to you, He'd be a new epiphany of Christ to you, and if you don't, he won't.

And so the reward standing over our daily moment-by-moment obedience is greater and greater revelation of Christ to you, you'll just get to know Jesus better, and if you choose not to, you won't. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from me." The yoke represents submission to His kingly authority. Bow your neck, bow your knees to his kingly authority, do what He commands, and He will teach you. And what do you think the topic of his teaching will be? He says, learn from me. Or literally in the Greek, learn of me. How about just learn me. I'll teach you me, I'll teach you who I am, I'll teach you what my heart is, I'll teach you the way I obeyed my father, I'll teach you myself, if you just submit to me, and so I would urge that you re-dedicate yourself to the Word of God, to the hearing of the word of God, not just in this context. Hear sermons, hear good preaching, but preach to yourselves through the word of God, find out what He's commanding, if you have his commands and if you obey them, secondly, I would suggest that you go after some commands that you need to obey in your quiet time, seriously, every day, just go after the Word of God and say, "God, show me at least one thing I need to obey today, something I need to do, show me something in your word that I need to go and obey." And he will, he will. And in that way, it will be a lifetime of epiphanies of Christ.

Christ Manifested to the World by His Return

 “Epiphany” Used to Refer to His Second Coming in Glory – The Ultimate Epiphany of Christ

Two more, dear friends, Christ is going to be revealed, the epiphany will come to the whole world, when he comes back in power and glory. He will be manifested by His appearing, the Greek word is epiphany, he is coming back some day, dear friends. Titus 2:13, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing, epiphany, of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". And you will not need any faith for that moment. For it says in Revelation 1:7, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced him. And all tribes of the Earth will wail on account of him." So shall it be, Amen. Revelation 1:7, he's coming back dear friends. And the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I've finished the race, I've kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day." Listen to this, "And not only to me, but all who have longed for his epiphany, longed for that day when Jesus comes back and shows Himself to the world." Do you long for that? Are you saying, "Maranatha, come Lord Jesus! I want to see you come back, I want to see you in the clouds, I want to see you up in glory. I long for that day." Well, then He'll reward you a crown of righteousness, says Paul.

Christ Manifested in Eternity

One Final Word: Christ will Never Run Out of Ways to Disclose Himself to Us

And after that is that it? Are we done with epiphanies? No, it's just beginning. When we've been there 10,000 years, bright shining as a sun, we've got another infinitude of epiphanies yet to go. Have you ever wondered what you're going to do for eternity? Oh, eternity, eternity. What shall I do for eternity? I just want to do my favorite things for eternity. Oh really? Is there any favorite thing that would really have such an infinite hold over your heart that you would want to spend eternity doing it? I can't imagine anything except this one thing, to learn Jesus, I want to know Christ, that's the only topic that can hold my attention for eternity. Is there enough of Christ for eternity? What do you think? Someone say, yes. Alright, thank you Hubert.

There is enough in Jesus for all eternity. And we're going to have eternity to study him. Isaiah 9:6, "Of the increase of His kingdom, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne forever and ever and his kingdom will never end. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." So here's this burning zeal like the sun, it never burns out, and so it just pulses that we would know Jesus. The father wants us to know Jesus. And you say, "Why would the father want us to know Jesus?" Because it's in knowing Jesus that we know him. He is the perfect revelation, so it will be in Heaven, and so there you will be in the new heaven and new earth, learning Jesus every day.

This morning, I was in my bedroom and Jenny and I were marveling at a little rainbow up on the wall, and Jenny, I found where it came from. It's from the mirror on the side. Okay. She was trying to block it, couldn't find where it was, and then duties carried her away, it's coming from the beveled cut of the mirror, and I was looking at the beauty of it, it was really beautiful. You're wondering why I had time to do it, and she didn't well, that's another topic, but I was standing there, putting my hand there and there it was. There it was. This beautiful rainbow on the side, I think the new heaven and new earth is going to be like that. It's going to be just this magnificent display of glory and we're like, "Where did it come from?" It came from Jesus. Look at that, the greatness of Jesus, an epiphany for all eternity. Close with me in prayer.

Other Sermons in This Series

God With Us

December 17, 2006

God With Us

Matthew 1:18-25

Andrew Davis

Incarnation

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