During the month of January, many believers celebrate Epiphany—the holiday that commemorates the Magi’s visit to baby Jesus. Those distinguished guests with their gifts of honor became part of a drama the entire world would eventually see. A drama that first played before Mary and Joseph.
…And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
–Matthew 2:9-11 NLT
Mary and Joseph were now living in a house, and their lives had taken on a rhythm of routine. At least as much of a routine as you can have when you’re the parents of a baby. Ask any parent of a young one, and they smile wearily as they describe the precious moments and frights and brain fog that sets in. Visits from angels, special announcements at the temple may have seemed strangely disconnected from the rest of life.
Mary and Joseph led such ordinary lives, learning what it meant to be husband and wife while working and caring for baby Jesus. At night, with Jesus asleep, would Joseph and Mary murmur to each other, “He’s beautiful! But he seems so . . . ordinary, too”? What a mystery this was! And completely unfathomable to those in town with a fascination for scandal. “Who does Jesus really look like?” went the local chatter. “I see his mother’s eyes and chin, but that baby doesn’t have a bit of Joseph in his face. I heard….”
Then, out of the blue, complete strangers knock on the door. Gentile Magi are looking for the newborn King of the Jews. The King’s star led them here, they explain. And they want to express their joy and respect with suitable gifts. What a spectacle of honor these men present! Beyond the pageantry, more is being revealed. Promises are being kept; plans are unfolding on schedule. God is doing the extraordinary in ordinary days. The epiphany? The Promised King is here, for Jew and Gentile alike!
Occasionally, epiphanies come to us, too. Unannounced, these singular moments open life with explosive understanding. The funny thing is, these new insights often come when we’re just living life, doing ordinary things. It’s as though an unseen light switch gets flipped on. Flick! And we see a situation, ourselves, life, God, other people with astonishing clarity.
Because epiphanies are personal, what I experience is known only fully to me. But epiphanies beg to be shared. They can entice us away from our routine ways, reminding us that there is more to grasp, if we’re willing to see.
- What strikes you about the Magi’s visit to baby Jesus?
- Does your life with Jesus seem routine right now?
- How might this epiphany change your perspective on what God is doing in your life?