Epiphany is both a day and a season. The day is January 6, and the season is the time between the end of the Christmas and the beginning of Lent.
The word epiphany means to shine forth, to manifest, to reveal, to appear. Epiphany is a day and a season of light. “Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60).
Epiphany enlightens us as it proclaims great Scriptural truths. This season declares that Jesus, who was born at Bethlehem, is true God made man. It announces that God has appeared among us as the Promised One to be the Savior of all people of every nation, Gentiles as well as Jews. Jesus is the true light who enlightens every person. As the Nicene Creed clearly states, Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” Jesus Himself announced: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Epiphany reveals the reason the Son of God came among us as one of us. He has come as the fulfillment of God’s promises to send a Messiah who would save all people, without any kind of exception, from sin, and its condemning power, and to restore all kinds of people everywhere to relationship with God.
This salvation, which Simeon called “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your [God’s] people Israel,” was also demonstrated by the visit of the Wise Men to the child Jesus. These Wise Men (or Magi) were not Jews. They were Gentiles whom God led to Jesus by a brilliant star in order to manifest that His saving plan is indeed for Gentiles as well as Jews.
The Apostle Paul discloses the revelation that Jesus has come not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles. God has now made known “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”
God “has brought to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.” As Paul writes to Titus, it is certainly true that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
And how has Jesus carried out His saving mission for Gentiles and Jews? St. Paul reveals the way of salvation in these words: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Because Jesus was born as a human being, He was able to suffer and die for our sins in our place. And because He is God, His suffering and death are sufficient to pay in full the debt we owe to God for our sinfulness and disobedience. His resurrection from the dead, the greatest of all epiphanies, causes His victory to shine forth to the world. Salvation is for all people through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. That is the message of Epiphany.
When we have received this Epiphany, when Epiphany shines radiantly and brilliantly into our lives, we can never be the same. We are now Gods own people who have been transformed in the light of Christ. As we move through this Epiphany Season, let us become more and more enlightened by the Holy Spirit, as He shows us how to live as His lights in a dark and dreary world.