The Mystery Revealed

Texts: Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12  — Pastor Don Mossman

Introduction

I recall the time a student made an insightful statement in one of my classes.  Try as she might, she just didn’t understand the theory we were discussing.  Then she said, “Oh, now I get it.”  My response?  “Great.  You’ve just had an epiphany.”

It’s satisfying to finally understand some things after having wrestled with the mysterious for some time.  Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”  It enables us to dream, to imagine, to see things we could never otherwise see.  For example, the Scriptures proclaim that, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above shows his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)  I am told, and hang onto your hat, that there are some 10 billion galaxies scattered through the visible universe.  And when I gaze up at the stars on a clear, dark night, I am amazed at the mysteries that go into God’s creative work.

Our lessons for this Epiphany Sunday speak of a Light that sheds belief or understanding of mysteries previously unknown.  Isaiah (Is. 60:1-3), often said to be the Gospel of the Old Testament, speaks of the Light promised, the light shining on the darkness of God’s people around the world.  St. Paul sheds translucent light on the inclusion of the Gentiles peoples.  Indeed it was and still is to a great extent, a mystery too deep for humanity to grasp unless the Spirit grant it.

I.  In the darkness of sin

     A.  Herod was an evil man (Matthew 2:1-12)

  1. Herod was a wicked man. He was insecure, suspicious of anyone who would even think of taking his throne.  When he heard that the Magi were asking questions about a newborn king, the Scriptures say he was greatly troubled, together with all Jerusalem.
  2. I guess so! Because of this suspicion, he had one son killed, a brother-in-law, his own wife, and others of his royal court because of uncontrolled suspicions of someone wanting his throne.  In response to the inquiry of the Wise Men, and to eliminate any challenge to his throne as he saw it, he had every male baby up to two years killed in and around Bethlehem.  He was as spiritually dead as a stone.

     B.  Description of our society

  1. Peggy Noonan, American author of books on politics, religion and culture, is quoted as saying that in this our society, “Everyone’s in the dark looking for a light switch.”  Perhaps that is too extreme a view for some of you, but it bears similarity to our society today.  Another insight: bumper sticker: “I’m lost! Where am I going?”
  2. So it is in the lives of many in this world. The law in the form of the Ten  Commandments or that written on the hearts of men and women are ignored or trampled upon.  Living in the darkness of sin they cannot see or deal with the seriousness of their sin.

III.  The Light of God

        A.  The real star of Bethlehem is Jesus

  1. We have every reason to rejoice this 12th day of Christmas, for when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might be the light to lighten both the Jewish and the Gentile peoples around the world. We read as to how these Wise Men were very intelligent and were able to interpret the meaning of a new star, which is something no one else in the world was able to do.  They looked at the star and it was revealed to them that the promised Messiah had come.  Not even the Jews knew that.
  2. In our lesson in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the fact that he would never have been able to understand the promises of God if they hadn’t been revealed to him. The first of these “mysteries” as he called them, was that the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together with one body, and shared together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
  3. Now this was a very counter-cultural thing for a Jew like Paul to understand. It wasn’t easy coming to understand that God’s grace is for Gentiles also. It took direct intervention by Jesus on the road to Damascus to reveal God’s intended truth.  Yet, it shouldn’t have been surprising, for these “mysteries” are consistent with the many OT prophesies that Peter, Paul and the rest of the Jews should have been familiar with.  God’s grace was intended for all people throughout the entire world.  God’s love knows no limits and it recognizes no boundaries.  Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female – it is inclusive.

Conclusion

The Hubble telescope repeatedly reveals new mysteries of the heavens.  My jaw never ceases to drop when I look upon the glorious, beautiful, amazing handiwork of God.  I don’t understand it all, yet I marvel at it and its beauty.  God’s wisdom is even more beautiful.  How can he show love to people like me who have done nothing to deserve it?  The answer is God’s Son Jesus.  His love is constant, unfathomable and limitless.  And I am ever so grateful for that epiphany.

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