Today is the Lord’s Day. Today is Epiphany. Today is also … my 28th birthday!
Whether we know our exact date of birth or not, all people have a day in which they were revealed to the world through their birth. My day came 28 years ago on a cold morning in northern Ohio. During the season of Epiphany we reflect on how Jesus Christ is revealed in the Gospels as LORD. What do the Gospels have to tell us about the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth as his revelation to the world? What does Jesus’ birth narrative(s) tell us about our own birth?
The Gospels of Luke and Matthew tell us about the revelation of Jesus the Messiah from the onset of their narratives. After a genealogy of Jesus’ ancestry, Matthew 1:18 explicitly states, , “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” In Matthew chapter 1 we are told how the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth and in Matthew chapter 2 of the wise men traveling from the east as a result of a rising star of the newly born King of the Jews. Their response to King Herod for their coming, that “they may worship him.”
In the Gospel of Luke we have a more detailed account of Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, and the accounts of the angels with the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna the prophet. These two Gospel accounts testify that the birth of Jesus was somehow different than my birth 28 years ago. And still, the birth is scandalously common: Jesus was born as an infant, from a woman, in a zip code, to parents. Unlike my birthday visitors of grandparents, relatives, and family friends, Jesus had angels, shepherds, wise men (kings?), and prophets testifying that the Messiah,called Emmanuel, “God With US” has been born. They testified with Simeon in Luke 2 that they, ”Have seen [God's] salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
But there is another birth that the Gospels attest to and which I am born (along with the great cloud of witnesses). This birth is revealed to the world through the sacrament of baptism which Christ initiated. In tomorrow’s post I will look at this birth from the Gospels of John and Mark.