Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
There is something about saving the best till last, and this is the 12th day of Christmas, the last of the twelve days, the day we call Epiphany. In many ways, Epiphany is like the 4th of July, because Epiphany is the fireworks, which are for all people, which can be seen even at a distance. Epiphany is all about light in the darkness, it is that light, that makes things seen.
You see Christmas, up until now, has been very much a Jewish affair, when the wisemen arrive in Jerusalem, their question is, where is he who is born king of the Jews, for we have seen his star, and have come to worship him. But when the wisemen arrive in Bethlehem, and find the Christ, they know he is not just king of the Jews, but the Savior of the World, Jesus came to save all people. The Jews had the Patriarchs and the promise, the Law and the Prophets, theirs was the covenant. Its not that God’s plan was exclusive, as people saw how Israel was blessed, they came to Israel to learn about God, the problem was that God’s chosen people were not very good about telling the good news. And so it was that most of the world sat in darkness, and remained in darkness, no hope, no promise, and the darkness was real and pervasive.
We often speak of 3 enemies, 3 that keep us enslaved, 3 that keep us in darkness – you know, the world, the flesh and the devil – not only do they lead us into sin, but they keep us in sin – because by ourselves, we cannot free ourselves – they debt is too great, and so we would remain chained, so we would remain in the darkness. That is the power of sin, and its not hard to see that this power is still a potent force in the world. The power of sin is universal, it is not like a disease that only affects a few, we know we are all sinners, we know we cannot save ourselves. We know that by ourselves we are lost, we sit in darkness, and because of the darkness we cannot see the way. We are chained in darkness, and sometimes in the darkness we forget about the chains, because we cannot see them, but whether we see them or not, they continue to hold us back and keep us where we are. By ourselves we would remain forever stuck in this pit, with no way out.
But the light has risen and we see our chains, we have seen the sin that binds us –we have seen our condition, we have seen that we need a Savior – but best of all, we have seen that there is a Savior, and that the Savior has come for us, for all people. That’s what Epiphany is all about, the light dawns, and as it does, it continues to reveal to us the Savior, and God’s great promise to redeem all men, from sin, form death and from the devil – to break the chains that bind us, to free us from our captivity. Epiphany begins with the simple truth that the Savior of the world has come, and continues week after week showing us who that Savior is, and what it is that God is promising us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Epiphany has come to us, so that we, like the wisemen of old, might rejoice with exceedingly great joy, because we too have seen our Savior.