Have You Had an Epiphany Moment Yet This New Year?

By Glen Taylor
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Christians familiar with liturgical traditions will know that we are in the season of Epiphany, a period that focuses on Bible passages that disclose the fact that Jesus was divine. Yet for most of us, the word epiphany means having an “aha” moment, a time when we discover something that makes a huge difference in the way we look at things. So, which sense of the word epiphany is best? The good news is that we don’t have to choose because at least one of the Bible passages for this season of Epiphany—the story of the Wise Men in Matthew 2—beckons us to our own personal (and amazing) aha moment. 

Based on what we typically hear about the story of the three wise men (we actually don’t know how many there were), you might be thinking the aha moment is so trite as the saying on the Christmas cards: “Wise People Still Seek Him.” But that’s not what the story is about at all. The aha moment begins when we realize these people, from a biblical perspective, weren’t wise at all. (Other passages that refer to magi—intellectuals who were astronomical astrologers, or simply magicians—would lead us to believe that “those people” would be the last on God’s invitation list to a baby shower for his newly incarnate Son. Instead, these Babylonian astrologers get a private invitation that King Herod and the prestigious religious leaders did not!)

Where the aha moment is in this story depends on, frankly, who you are. If you are someone like King Herod (affluent, powerful, well connected) the aha is that, in God’s eyes, you aren’t as special as you are inclined to think; in fact, if you are selfish and have no room for a king other than yourself, you are on the sidelines, in need of a miracle from God (which could still happen, but not likely). If on the other hand, you are someone like the Magi, well-meaning, but looking for God in all the wrong places, the aha moment consists of three truths: 1) God cares (especially!) about you; 2) following God’s leading to the feet of Jesus can bring immense joy (v. 7 says, literally, “they rejoiced with joy that abounded exceedingly”); 3) this joy-filled personal encounter with Jesus changed their lives in that gladly “they worshipped Him” and “offered gifts.” Now there’s a surprising aha moment: finding joy at the worship of Jesus—and at putting money in the plate! Something has changed. It was an epiphany! 

The epiphany that awaited the magi awaits us as well: the joyous “aha” that comes when we recognize Jesus for who He is, God incarnate. He is a Life Changer, a source of joy amid reorientation to Him.

Wise people still seek Jesus, but our story suggests that God is more inclined to lead the well-meaning spiritually minded to find him. There are lots of spiritually curious people around today. If you are one of them, may I ask: have you had that epiphany? If not, God is waiting. 

About the Author

Glen Taylor is Professor of Scripture and Global Christianity at Wycliffe College.