Today is the first Sunday of Epiphany, the liturgical season where we remember and celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
In particular, the church recalls the story of the pagan Magi, who traveled from the East in order to offer gifts and bow down before the prophesied Jewish King. For in this scene, we see an initial fulfillment of all the Old Covenant prophecies concerning the nations turning to God, the Gentiles from afar coming in to worship the Holy One of Israel. As the Lord spoke to His Messiah through the prophet Isaiah, “I will give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (49:6).
And so Epiphany is a reminder of Christ’s rule over all nations and His commission to the church to be His witnesses to them, that they may glorify Him and receive great joy in His salvation.
This means that the work of foreign missions is not simply a nice add-on or optional program of the church. Christ is the Light to the Gentiles. And having established this work during His earthly sojourn, He now oversees its fulfillment by His Spirit in the work of the church, by yourwork, as you reflect His glory and shine your light before all men (Mt. 5:14–16).
This of course begins by first being a light to your families and this community. But you must not stop there. It is a great privilege and honor that Christ has called you to be a part of His plan to make disciples of all nations.
And so in this new year, consider how you and your families may participate in extending His kingdom abroad. In your family prayers, pray for God’s global work and any missionaries that you know by name. As you are able, give financial support to efforts you trust, such as the work of the Madsen family in Zambia. And if there is any desire or interest on your part, do not be afraid to ask God if it may be His will for you to be sent out as well. For the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are still few (Mt. 9:37).
Christ will receive the full reward of His suffering. All the ends of the earth will turn to the Lord and bow down before Him (Ps. 22:27). And this is the joy of Epiphany.
Shawn Paterson – January 7, 2024