IN NOMINE JESU
On the twelfth day of Christmas the good Lord gave to us the Savior, revealed to the Gentiles for the first time. Today we celebrate the arrival of the Magi at the house where the young Child lived with Mary, His mother. These Wise Men came from the East to worship this young King, this young Lord and Savior, this toddler God. They beheld a true mystery—the mystery of the Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among His people. Today we celebrate this mystery and this dwelling. Today we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord; we celebrate His being revealed to the Gentiles, that they would become God's children by grace. This divine adoption could not take place unless the Christ was revealed to the Gentiles. This revelation takes place through the preaching of the Word, for it is through the preaching of the Word that the Incarnate Word is revealed. It is also through the preaching of the Word that one comes to faith in this same Christ, for St. Paul tells us, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
The Wise Men had a special revelation of the Christ, revealed to them by a star, a star that led them west to the holy city of Jerusalem, holy for the Lord Himself dwelt there in the house of His mother. It was a unique occasion: this was one of the last times the Lord would be revealed by means other than His Means of Grace, His Word and Sacraments. Paul writes in our text that this mystery has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit to the prophets and apostles. Why was the mystery of the Incarnation revealed to them? The Holy Spirit gave them to know of this blessed mystery so that they would proclaim it to the whole people of God…and to those outside the communion of saints so that they too would believe in Christ. The Holy Spirit caused the prophets to proclaim the coming of the Messiah in human flesh, just as Isaiah had told King Ahaz that "the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14b). The chief priests and scribes remembered for King Herod the Great the words of the prophet Micah, as we heard in the Holy Gospel appointed for this day. Thus we hear the Word being revealed to the king. What we behold this evening is that, for the Word to be revealed, it must be preached, and you are the blessed recipients of this Word this evening, as it is preached in your hearing.
This is a written Word and the Incarnate Word we need to have revealed to us because we would have no knowledge of our Lord—and no faith in Him—without it. We cannot live as the people of God unless He has been revealed— preached—to us. Without His Word and Sacraments, not only would our Lord remain unrevealed to us, but His gifts of forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation also would not have been given to us. Without faith in Christ, we would forever be unable to comprehend this mystery. Even with faith in Him, we are still unable to comprehend the mystery of the Incarnation. We finite creatures cannot comprehend an infinite God becoming true Man, coming hidden in finite form. We are unable to understand how a virgin can conceive and bear a Son. We cannot begin to fathom how One who was crucified and dead can bring Himself back to life. Our finite mental capacities cannot contain an infinite God. Why is this so? We are the creation, not the Creator; we are sinners, not the Savior. We cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, and for this reason we are in need of His being revealed to us, that we would believe in Him, lest we be in danger of eternal hellfire.
As we confess in the Third Article of the Creed, we cannot believe in Jesus Christ our Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. And how does He do this? He does so by giving us His holy Word, which is read and preached in your hearing this evening and each Lord's Day, revealing to us our loving Lord. Why is our Lord revealed to us this way? First, He has willingly bound Himself to the Word and Sacraments, the only means in which He promises to be found; He comes to us through the Means by which He is found—Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. Second, we cannot believe in Him unless He is revealed to us through the reading and preaching of the Word. Third, our Lord wants to reveal Himself to us because He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. The Lord said to the Samaritan woman, "Salvation is of the Jews" (Jn. 4:22b), and now it has come to the Gentiles, "For," as Paul writes, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Rom. 1:16), and again, "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:23-24). This is the Christ whom the Wise Men sought, the One who would be crucified, for the life of the Wise Men, for the life of the Jews, for the life of the Gentiles, and for the life of the world. Christ came hidden in human form, revealing His glory on the cross, where He bled and died for the forgiveness of our sins.
And now, through Jesus' blood and righteousness, we are bold to come before our heavenly Father, making our requests known to Him in Jesus' Name. You see, before the birth of the Christ, the Jews were the people of God by their bloodline. Today we are His people not by our blood but by the blood of His Son. By the Holy Spirit through faith we believe the Word that has been revealed to us, and He calls us His own. We do not understand how God can do this, but by the Holy Spirit we know why—God is love. That's why He has revealed Himself to us through His Means of Grace, for our sake and for the life of the world.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Send Pastor Mark Schlamann an email.