For the last two years, no one date on the calendar has been mentioned in news reports more than “January 6th” – the day back in 2021 when rioters breached the United States Capitol to protest the 2020 presidential election. Images of the chaos and the mob that attempted to disrupt and derail the Electoral College proceedings are replayed over and over by media, as well as by an officially sanctioned congressional committee tasked with investigating the maelstrom.
You can be sure we’ll see lots of footage this coming Friday on the second anniversary of the event.
Last year, Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, called the day “a wake-up call for the nation” and “a sobering reminder of the massive challenges facing our constitutional order.” He added, “We will find a way to preserve our grand experiment in self-government, or we will lose it.”
Dr. Mohler knows that January 6th is far more than a day relegated to remembering disorder and dysfunction. In fact, for well over 1,600 years, it’s been a day set aside to commemorate the arrival of the Magi to see Jesus, as well as the celebration of His baptism and the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry.
It’s time for Christians to reclaim and redeem the day from headlines of malfeasance to the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity.
Known as the “Twelfth Night of Christmas,” the Christian feast of the Epiphany, a term emanating from a Greek word meaning “manifestation,” is a holiday dating back to between 380 and 420 A.D. Truth be told, we don’t know if the Magi came so soon after Jesus’ birth, and in fact, some suggest it may very well have been two years later. And although we often speak and sing of “three kings,” there may have been more or even fewer. The tradition of “three” derives from knowing they brought three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
After over a month of Christmas celebrations, and maybe even more if you count stores that display holiday decorations before Halloween, and radio stations that begin playing carols in November, it might be tempting to move on from the holiday. But if you do, you’ll be missing out on the richness and significance of the Magi’s arrival – and its cultural implications today.
Despite what many people might think, the feast of the Epiphany doesn’t just celebrate the arrival of kings bearing gifts. It’s a celebration and recognition of the first public acknowledgement that Jesus was righteous royalty set apart from everyone else. It’s the heart behind the holiday – the great reveal that Christ was God in the flesh and in the form of an innocent child. God sent Jesus to earth to save us sinners from eternal damnation, and to provide us with an opportunity to live forever with Him.
The significance of the three gifts is also notable – and instructive. According to the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, the gold represented Jesus’ sovereign dominion over humanity. The frankincense pointed to His sinless deity – and the myrrh served to foreshadow His sacrificial death. You’ll recall that as Jesus hung dying on the cross, He was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a bitter resin.
In so many ways, the Epiphany we celebrate on January 6th serves as a contrast and as a reminder that Jesus is the antidote to all the chaos and confusion of January 6, 2021, and every other day for that matter. The dysfunctional and increasingly depraved culture in which we live may be getting you down, but the celebration of Christmas and the arrival of the Magi should lighten our burden. The world groans on, but we nevertheless serve a glorious King who continues to hold all things together.
Photo from Shutterstock.