Going Deeper 1/3/2019

The second reading for Epiphany...

Ephesians 3:1-12   This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.  In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.  Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.


Some mysteries are of God, and some mysteries are formed by the sin-broken ignorance of humanity.  


The mystery Paul speaks of in this text could be either one... or both.  Is it really any big secret that God's plan has always been to heal the brokenness caused by sin, especially the broken relationships between God and humanity, and also among humans?  Wasn't that the plan with the forming of Israel in the first place, that through their unique covenant relationship with God others would take notice and be drawn to worship God?  Wasn't the intent that Israel would serve as a "light to the nations"?  


In retrospect-- yes, this is something we can see as the plan all along, thanks to Isaiah and other prophets.  But somehow, some way, this calling gets lost-- or "hidden"-- among all of the emphasis on kingdoms and nationalism.  This plan becomes a mystery hidden until the coming of the Messiah Jesus.


The truth is, the Epiphany story of the magi, strange astrologers, more than likely Gentiles, recognizing Jesus as a King and coming to pay homage points to the radical nature of Jesus' mission right from the start.  Jesus came for all; or as Paul declared in the first chapter of this letter to the Ephesians, "With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."  Jesus came to reconcile and unite. 


The fact that during His  mission Jesus reached out to outcasts and foreigners infuriated Jewish leaders and was one of the key reasons they sought to do away with Him.  Part of sinful human nature is to believe God plays favorites and that we have earned the right to be among His favored ones.  But the Gospel of grace declares the love of God for all and the offer of grace and forgiveness to every child of God.  The mission of His people continues to be to declare "the news of the boundless riches of Christ" as we serve as lights to the world, to those who have been lost in the darkness.


May the Spirit of God fill us with the light of love, grace, and peace for all!


With You in Him,