The Epiphany of Our Lord
“Where Is He?”
St. Matthew 2.1-12
06 January 2019
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
+ In the Name of Jesus +
And Joseph knew her not until she gave birth to a son, and he called his name Jesus.
But of the one named Jesus, having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the one called king, behold magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the one who has been given by birth to be king of the Jews? For we saw the star of his in the east and we came to worship him.” (Mt. 1:25-2:2; my translation)
Where is He? Where is the one whom God caused to be born the true king of the Jews? The implication of the magi from the east is this – Herod is not the real king. He didn’t get the job by birth-right. He’s the local Roman crony, who won the job by hook and crook, with first-century murder and intrigue that would keep Fox News, CNN, real and fake news media all atwitter more than one could imagine if such events happened today.
Where is He, born to be King of the Jews? You’re not the true King, Herod. You have no star that arose in the east. God’s Word speaks of no star for you. We’ve not come to worship you. Where is the “one who has been given by birth” to be King of the Jews?
Where is He? All mankind needs Him, needs divine help from above. Many know they need help, need to be enlightened from the darkness of this world, cleansed from the filth of this world, and yet look in all the wrong places. Many look inside of themselves and their own reason and strength for light and truth, looking to themselves. Many look to their material wealth for comfort. Many look in vain to so many false gods of all names and vain imaginations. Many of our fellow Christians are even reimagining the God of the Bible to be accepting of sin and false teaching and every sort of error – as if God is just a great doting grandpa in the sky who will forgive it all, even if we’re not sorry we’ve broken His Word. Many look in vain to find such a God described in the Bible.
Where is He, born king of the Jews? We live in a dark and foggy world, marred as it is by sin and shame and abuse and hardship and disaster and hatred and murder and the wicked things we entangle ourselves in and become entangled by, so much of which we sometimes simply cannot understand and yet they hurt so dearly – for after all, the darkness and lack of clarity we are wrestling with is not finally flesh and blood, but it is the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness, we are up against the spiritual forces of evil in the powerful realms we cannot see and feel.
Where is He? Where is this heavenly, come down to earth king of kings, announced by angels and a star, who makes earthly princes and cities tremble and fall away? Where is He, whose Word leads to truth and life, provides real clarity and comfort and consolation and purity, a Word that never lies to us or fails us, better than any earthly prince, better than any man or woman we might choose to put any trust towards?
Where is He? The chief priests and scribes Herod summons look in the right place. They didn’t understand it, were not looking for its fulfillment, possibly didn’t believe it – but they went to the Word of Jesus through His holy prophets. We should go there too.
Where is He? Born king of the Jews in Bethlehem, David’s city, David’s God and Lord and son at the same time, the Good Shepherd, God with us on earth, come to bring peace on earth with God, good will to men from God.
Where is He? Escaped Herod’s murderous intentions and was the Son called out of Egypt, just like Israel of old, but He is the embodiment of Israel, He is Israel in one man.
Where is He? He grew up in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, observed the Passover in His temple, grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
Where is He? At thirty years of age He was anointed of the Holy Spirit and with power from on high, declared to be who He is publicly, He is the Father’s beloved Son, submitting to John’s baptism in the Jordan, becoming sin bearer, who knew no sin Himself.
Where is He? He came to his own, revealing Himself and His kingdom by turning water into wine at Cana, healing the leprous and paralyzed, calming the storm on the sea, among so many miracles and so much preaching, yet, His own people receive Him not. They do not ultimately believe Him to be their true king. They had no king but Caesar. Jesus they smote, struck, afflicted, and let Rome do the dirty deed, despising and rejecting Him.
Where is He? There He was [on the cross]. A man of sorrows, acquainted with your grief and mine. And Pilate was right when he wrote what he wrote on the cross: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. There He was. The one born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, innocent lamb of God, bearing your sins and mine and those of the whole world on the cross, taking the wrath of God for sin that every son and daughter of Adam and Eve have all deserved in His body, the king of the Jews, born to die the sinner’s death in the sinner’s place, paying for you and for the magi and for the whole world not with gold or silver or frankincense or myrrh – but with His holy, precious blood, shed in His innocent suffering and death.
Where is He? He was there on the cross, that one day. But He is not there now, and He is not in the tomb. Behold the place where they did lay Him dead. His death stands good for you and for me and for the whole world, and through His death He gives you life in exchange. He has risen, defeating your death, and ascended, ruling us all in power and glory, king of kings, lord of lords, firstborn of the dead, king of all of us, the new Israel composed of those who believe His Word from every corner of this earth, who believe Him King, Lord, Savior, faithful friend, God with us always even to the end of the age.
Where is He, born king of the Jews? Here He is in His one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church, in His Word preached and absolution proclaimed that brings clarity, light, comfort, purity, truth, and real life to all who hear and believe. Here He is in His baptismal waters, washing you clean of sin and marking you with His name and cross and making you one with Him in death to sin and resurrection to eternal life. Here He is in His blessed holy supper, true Body and true Blood once shed, now raised, feeding you for this pilgrim struggle, making you ready for the eternal feast He will one day fully reveal in a light no eye on earth has seen, with a song no ear on earth has yet heard. But you will yet see and hear and taste all things good and glorious. For He is there. You will be too. + In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +