God Speaks in Your Language

2019-01-06 – Year C – The Feast of the Epiphany – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Isaiah 60:1-9; Psalm 72:1-11; Ephesians 3:1-13; Matthew 2:1-12

  • “A Persian migrant told his story to a Persian pastor: During the night he saw someone dressed in white raise his hand and say, “Stand up and follow me.” The Persian man said, “Who are you?” The man in white replied, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. I’m the way to heaven. No one can go to the Father, except through me.””
  • “The pastor then opened to the Book of Revelation: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” The man started crying and said, “How can I accept him? How can I follow him?” So the pastor led him in prayer and peace came over him. The pastor then gave the man a Bible”
  • The man “left and an hour later returned with 10 more Persians and told the pastor, “These people want a Bible.””
  • This man was not a Christian, or even a Jew, but the Lord visited him in a dream and brought him into the Kingdom!
  • Ephesians 2:12-13 “…you who were once far off have been brought near…”
  • Feast of the Epiphany (from the Greek: epiphaneia, “manifestation”) is sometimes called the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.”

Who were the the Kings?

  • In Matthew, these visitors are called “magos,” not kings, per se, but likely advisors to a king or kings in the east.
    • Daniel 2:1-2 – King Nebuchadnezzar had dreams that troubled him and he summoned the Magos (enchanters) and other to interpret for him.
    • Magos is the word from which we get the English words “magic” and “magician”.
  • It was clearly a part of God’s plan that these Magos should bring gifts to Jesus.
    • It was foretold in our reading from Isaiah (v. 6)
    • God leads them, first to Jerusalem, and then to the house where Jesus was.
    • How amazing that through these signs (and a supernatural cosmic event) God was able to lead them to the very house where Jesus was (Matthew 2:9).
  • Even more amazing is the fact that God used astrology to lead these Magos to Jesus!
    • Deuteronomy 18:9-14 – Divinitation and Sorcery prohibited.
    • Isaiah 47:13-14 – Astrology doesn’t work and can’t save
    • Thus the astrology of the Magi is the exception, not the rule.
    • “Lord, we confess…all spiritual adultery committed against You. We renounce all knowledge gained from sources other than the Holy Spirit. We renounce all sorcery, divination, all forms of witchcraft, [and] all pagan and satanic rituals…”
  • God wanted to show that the birth of this child was good news, not just for Jews, but for all of humanity.
    • God engaged the Magos by communicating with them in a language they would understand.
    • God employed a tool that was designed by Satan to draw people away from God and he used it to draw them to him instead!

God Reaches People Through Whatever Means are Necessary (Short of Sin)

  • Incarnation
    • “We learn from this, as well as many other expressions in the Gospels, that our Lord had a body exactly like our own. When “the Word became flesh,” He took on Him a nature like our own in all things, sin only excepted. Like ourselves, He grew from infancy to youth, and from youth to man’s estate. Like ourselves, He hungered, thirsted, felt pain, and needed sleep. He was liable to every sinless infirmity to which we are liable. In all things His body was framed like our own.”
  • Parables – Simple stories and examples from everyday life that are deep with meaning
    • Images of agriculture, household tasks, and human relationships.
  • Just like God used a dream to tell the Magos to go home by another way, today God is making himself known to Muslims through dreams and visions of Jesus.
    • “Mission Frontiers magazine has reported that out of 600 Muslim converts, 25 percent experienced a dream that led to their conversion.”

Communicating the Gospel Today

  • We can follow the example Jesus gave us in his incarnation.
    • “I have become all things to all people…” (1 Corinthians 9:22b)
    • Just as Jesus became like us in every way, “sin only excepted”, we can become like the people around us for the sake of reaching them (sin only excepted).
  • If God has burdened your heart for a certain person, or group of people, how can you relate to them in ways that they will understand?
    • What are their interests? What do they like to talk about? How do they spend their time?
    • Building relationships requires an investment of time, but when you spend that time, and the person (or people) know you love them, they will be more receptive when you talk about the Gospel.
    • My mother does a great job of this when relating with our children. She plays games, does projects, reads books, and engages our children with their interests.
    • ENGAGE Youth Ministry training in Thomasville on Saturday, Feb 23.
    • If Jesus were speaking with that person, what images and parables would he use that would make sense for them?

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