As we consider Christ’s coming, Matthew’s genealogy mentions some individuals whose inclusion may be a bit surprising to us, considering what genealogies were used for. We’ll look at one of the least familiar people mentioned because their story has a lot to tell us about what Christmas is really all about.
“Epiphany” is a word used to describe a life-changing realization that has just dawned on you. In the Church calendar, it’s used to describe the life-changing revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, as seen in His appearing to the wise men. Celebrated twelve days after Christmas, Epiphany is great opportunity to take stock of where we stand before the King of glory. Are we seeking Him? Are we trying to use Him for our own purposes? Are we worshipping Him? True joy is found in giving our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Refugees have a tough life. Driven from their homes by things like famine, persecution, and war, they face danger, deprivation, and despair. No one chooses to become a refugee, but our Lord Jesus willingly took on flesh, knowing that the very first stage of His earthly life would be lived as a refugee in Egypt. But it was all part of God’s grand plan of salvation. Jesus would become a refugee for us so that we might find our refuge in Him. He would shelter us through His blood so that we might help shelter others in His Name.
Hard times have a way of making everything seem hopeless. Difficult circumstances, external oppression, and internal doubts conspire to leave us discouraged and ineffective in our Christian lives. But Jesus offers hope to the hopeless. When all seems lost and our best efforts seem wasted he reminds us that it has never been about our efforts but about his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Through the Scriptures he redirects us to himself where we find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to get private prayer lessons from Jesus Himself? That is exactly what we have been given in the Lord’s Prayer. The preface teaches us that our God is personal, accessible, and ascendant. He has truly become “Our Father in heaven” through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin is fundamentally disorienting. It convinces us we’re at the center of the universe while God is either non-existent or exists to serve us. We have no sense of His profound holiness, and therefore do not love Him, worship Him, or obey Him. The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer reorients our hearts back to our Holy Father through the Son whom He loves.
Who runs your life? Christians are quick to say “God,” but when we examine our motives and actions more closely we find that we often still try to be little gods unto ourselves. In the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us that the purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to learn what God wants and to tune our will to His.
There are many ways to build a kingdom: militarily, through force; economically, through prosperity; culturally, through shared experience. But all such kingdoms are destined to perish because they are based on human means and human ends. God is building an eternal kingdom for His glory through the proclamation of His Son, who invites us to join Him in His great work by praying, “Your kingdom come!”
Dependence is not an easy thing to teach independently-minded sinners. How might God impress upon us our daily need for Him as well as His gracious provision for that need? By teaching us to pray the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. He is the one who meets our daily needs-both physical and spiritual-through His Son, the true Bread from heaven.