Isaiah 49: 1-7

Psalm 40: 1-11

1 Corinthians 1: 1-9

St. John 1: 29-42

 

“The Epiphanies Begin”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Now that Jesus Christ, Son of God, who came into the world

not to condemn the world, for it was already condemned, but to

save it through the cross, has been baptized the mission to which

he came to fulfill outlined in all of Scripture has begun. And this

mission is not merely for the Jews, though it is primarily for them,

for we know that Christ came not for Israel but for all nations. Now

we may not at birth be members of Israel, God’s chosen people,

but through our baptism we are all adopted into Israel, as children

of God.

Isaiah alludes to this when God spoke through him saying,

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the

tribes of Jacob and bring back the preserved of Israel: I will make

you as a light for all the nations, that my salvation may reach to

the end of the earth.”

God has always desired that all of creation bask in His

glorious light. His Salvation was never to be reserved for a small

lot but freely given for all willing to receive. This is what’s found in

Torah, that the great servant of God who brings salvation will

come not merely for Israel but for everyone, to include even the

enemies of Israel.

 

2

 

It would be a waste if God’s most glorious gift of

sanctification from sin and sin’s reward, Hell, was gifted on to the

select few, the tribes of Jacob. From a numerical perspective, the

ratio of tribes of Israel to earth’s population is so tiny that this gift

becomes a trifling thing too insignificant with regards to worldly

salvation. For again, God’s main goal is for all people to worship

Him. Now He does not desire this because He needs our worship.

For from it, for He could wipe us all out and not be negatively

affected as He remakes the creation. He does not need us, nor

will He ever, and anyone who suffers this train of thought has

fallen victim to the Hell trap known as narcissism.

 

No, God desires all people to worship Him because He loves

us. He is the source of life, good, happiness, and most especially

existence in of itself. God does not merely exist, He determines

existence. He wants us to be happy and filled with joy and live life

eternally void of sin. But because He is all good, He does not

force us to receive His life giving presence. Because of this many

have turned away from Him and in so doing have denied God’s

free gift of life. God sees these lost lambs, and despairs over the

consequences of their freely chosen actions. All we had to do was

follow His Law which exposes to us what sin looks like. But

because all have turned from the Law in part all have turned from

God in whole, replacing Him with our own self-made versions of

the divine. All have failed, and this causes our Father above great

distress. So to only provide salvation to a select few, His chosen

people Israel, is too trifling. Therefore, His salvation will be for all

nations.

 

3

But it has to start somewhere, and that somewhere was at

the Jordan. Though the light Christ has cast was for all nations,

He did not disregard the special relationship He and His Father

above had with the original chosen. For the Messiah came first for

the Jews, and through them all nations. For every Jew who

followed Jesus Christ, a new lantern was hung in the spiritually

dark land, shedding light on the gentiles. Those who followed

Jesus knew He came for all nations and they in turn spoke to the

gentiles with welcoming arms and baptism. On the other hand,

those in the tribes of Jacob who turned away from Jesus did so

for many reasons and one was because they believed themselves

so special that the Messiah was to come only for them. By

believing the Messiah’s salvation was for Israel alone and not for

the gentiles, they’ve abandoned the prophecies of Isaiah for a lie,

believing that the Messiah was coming to save Israel from the

Romans. When Jesus confessed that he came to save both Jew

and Gentile, that enraged many of the Jews who suffered at the

hands of Gentiles, and thus they rejected Him.

 

It’s a sad reality, but one we don’t have to be weighed down

by for many of God’s chosen people saw and heard the truth and

followed Jesus Christ, becoming the first generation of Christians.

And then they in turn looked out into the vast horizon and started

spreading the Good News. The epiphanies were beginning as

people came to realize, this is the Messiah.

 

But, once again, as already stated, there must be a

beginning, and the beginning of Christ’s mission was at the

Jordan.

 

4

Now last week we already covered Jesus’ baptism, but the

Gospel of St John adds one tiny detail about this baptism, a very

important detail. John the Baptist knew not who the Messiah was

to be. That’s the detail, and to drive the message home St John

said this twice: once in verse 31, and again in verse 33 of chapter

1. It’s obvious that John the Baptist knew Jesus, they were

cousins, but that did not mean he knew that Jesus was the

Messiah. John knows Jesus, he just doesn’t know the Messiah.

It’s like those classic tropes in literature when the main character

is trying to find out who is “Person X”, only to find out “Person X”

was their best friend all along. That is what’s happening here.

John is waiting for the Messiah, but knows not that the Messiah is

his own cousin Jesus, that is until the Holy Spirit reveals this to

him at the Jordan.

Now one might ask, didn’t John know that Jesus was Christ

when in the womb; for he did leap in Elizabeth’s womb upon

being in the presence of his savior? Yes, he did, but not on

account of his rational thinking processes but solely on account of

the Holy Spirit which gave John the faith necessary to know the

truth. As an unborn child, John has no ability to reason let alone

thinking that much is obvious, but solely on account of the Holy

Spirit did he know. If anything, the story of John is proof that we

must baptize infants, and proof that having faith in Jesus Christ is

in no way connected to your ability to think. For we know that faith

comes only from the Holy Spirit, and that through Baptism you do

indeed receive the Holy Spirit.

John leaped with joy when he was an infant wholly incapable

of having reason. But he leaped because he, an infant had faith.

 

5

After his birth and as he grew up and developed the ability to

remember and reason he ceased to know Jesus as the Messiah

but instead knew him only as his cousin. This much is certainly

true for if he did view Jesus as the Messiah during his youth then

he would have remembered it. If anything, his ability to reason is

why he viewed Jesus as his cousin and not the Messiah. And now

that John is an adult it is not reason that opened his eyes to the

truth regarding Jesus’ divinity, but faith alone which comes from

the Holy Spirit. In both cases, when John knew that Jesus was

the Messiah, it was the Holy Spirit, an outside source, and not

reason, an internal source, which provided him with the necessary

faith. And know that John has the ability to remember, when

Jesus came back to the Jordan the following day, John shouted,

“Behold, the Lamb of God!”

If anything, the first to have an epiphany following Jesus’

baptism was John the Baptist, but he wasn’t the only one who had

one, for through John the Baptist his two followers who were with

him the day after the great baptism also had epiphanies. These

were the first of many epiphanies; epiphanies that still happen to

this very day.

Now when John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb

of God do you think the two disciples followed Jesus on account

of their reason or on account of faith? Well, faith obviously; they

trusted John the Baptist and knew that God had blessed John, so

when John pointed out who was the Messiah it was out of trust in

John that the two turned to follow Jesus. John the Baptist was the

lantern that showed Andrew and the other disciple the Lamb of

God, Jesus Christ. And in turn these two became lamps that

 

6

shined the light of the Holy Spirit on others so that they too may

be filled not with reason but with faith in Jesus Christ. Gentile and

Jew, it mattered not, for Christ came and died and rose from the

grave for everyone. What was the first thing Andrew did the

following day? Became a light for his brother Simon, aka Peter.

And the other disciple, whom most theologians, church historians,

and scholars believe to be John son of Zebedee, also became a

light for others. For if the massive majority of learned people are

correct in their assumption, as still many others speculate the

disciple to be Philip, then the disciple John upon the next day

would have gone to his brother James. But let’s say it was Philip

rather than John, the message is still the same because Philip

went to Nathaniel, aka Bartholomew.

 

The epiphanies have begun.

Let us pray,

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the free gift of

salvation and a faith that surpasses understanding. Help us lead

humble lives as we utilize the gifts you have given us to spread

the Good News. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son,

and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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