Epiphany – that moment of “Ohhhh, that’s what she meant!” or “now I get it.” It’s the second of earthshaking revelation that was right in front of you all the time, but you were too blind to see it. Epiphanies put all the pieces of the puzzle together for us.
Jesus was the ultimate Epiphany. He was a great Light breaking out on a dark land, our land. Jesus brings definition to all our confused and misguided attempts to understand the world around us.
Traditionally in the Church calendar this is the season of celebrating that great Epiphany. One of the stories retold year after year is the “Baptism of Jesus” found in Matthew 3. It’s a kind of tip for us following in the footsteps of Jesus to understand our mission as we model our faith communities off of His ministry. So let’s look at it together. How does Jesus’ ministry bring revelation & definition to how we at CityLight do ministry?
In Matt 3:13-17 we see Jesus coming from Nazareth (MK 1:9) intentionally to be baptized by John the Baptist. John’s baptism was one of Repentance + Forgiveness = getting on tract w/God (Lk 3:3) Why did Jesus do this? Well, baptism was an outward sign of an inward decision. And simply Jesus identified with John’s message/ministry. Additionally Jesus was fulfilling prophecy – Jesus had a very specific plan given from the Father. And in engaging in this ritual Jesus set off an epiphany. Heaven tears open, the Holy Sprit descends like a dove to anoint Him and the Father speaks confirming words of love to Him. We see in John 1:32-34 that this single event was an epiphany for John the Baptist as well. It was the moment when he really understood that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
At CityLight we too need to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and confirmed by the Father. If we engage in ministry without these two things we are destined to failure. And I believe as we move forward in God approved ministry that it will bring epiphany to others as well. They will “get it” and understand that what we are doing is something ordained by God and not just the works of man.
Continuing in the story (Matt 4:1-11) Jesus is described as full of the Holy Spirit. How about us? Could we & our ministry be described this way? Jesus was lead by the Spirit into the desert to pray & fast. Additionally the Spirit allowed Jesus to be lead into Spiritual warfare. Notice that all the tests were essentially Satan offering Jesus short-cuts to fulfill His mission. Guess what guys- there are no short cuts in the ministry! We have to keep in step with the Spirit. Do things His way and according to His timing!
Jesus not only had a ministry, He had a Message (Matt 4:12-17). And it was a bright light in a dark place. Jesus moved from His hometown to Galilee in response to the news that John the Baptist had been thrown into prison for confronting Herod (the ruler of that region) of adultery. In doing so Jesus fulfilled prophecy – and a great revelation would dawn in a land darkened by the shadow of death. So what did Jesus preach when He got there? He preached John’s message – “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” That was the Good News – God is near even in such a dark place! He is King even when it looks like darkness has overcome. The Hero is coming, He is near. And He wants us to get right with Him and draw near.
We see the Apostle Paul picking up on this same message of the nearness of God and His desire that we would reach out to Him while preaching in Athens (Acts 17:27). Will this be our Message? At CityLight will we be a light in a dark place? Will we remind people of God’s nearness?
In an interview Chris Tomlin describes how the dark brothels of Bangkok, Thailand served as a backdrop for an epiphany of the Holy Spirit to inspire the hit song – “God of this City”. Watch the interview and be overwhelmed by the nearness of God….
Now hear the song…. Let us at CityLight be a light in our dark land!
How to start?
In Acts 13:1-3 we see the Antioch Church; an international, full of Holy Spirit & grace loving community; praying and worshiping before the Lord. Out of this time of seeking out God’s will (His epiphany) this church sends out their pastors,Paul & Barnabas, on an amazing adventure of the Holy Spirit. We too at CityLight can experience these things as we humbly come to Jesus with hearts willing to yield and simply follow Him.
Sorry this week’s audio recording was a digital disaster. However, you can download the 1st part here which is less of a teaching and more of a bloopers out take & stand up comedy act… enjoy: “Epiphany”