January 18, 2014

Epiphany Moments: Jesus is the Lamb of God (Epiphany 2)

An ‘epiphany moment’ is a dramatic new and life-changing understanding of an important idea. It is when we suddenly ‘see’ or ‘get it’ and come to a deeper understanding of an important truth. For example Isaiah 49.1-7 is a prophecy that Israel will be restored by the words of by a despised and obedient servant – as opposed to the mighty army of a warrior king that the people had hoped for. John has a similar Epiphany moment when he realizes that his humble cousin Jesus, is the long expected Messiah who will save the whole world from its sin by acting as the sacrificial ‘Lamb of God”. These Epiphany moments prepare us for our own Epiphany moments as we grow in our spiritual life.

1. Isaiah’s Epiphany moment was a prophecy of a divine servant
In the Prophecy we are told the servant will be:

·         “despised and abhorred by the nations”.

·         He will be like a “polished arrow” with a ‘mouth like a sharpened sword”

·         Instead of leading an army the servant will be obedient and speak words of great power

·         He will restore Jacob and the remnant of Israel

·         He will also be like a light to the Gentles

This would be a Epiphany moment because the Hebrew people were probably still in captivity in Babylon when this was written. They were hoping for a mighty military leader who would raise an army and restore Israel to military greatness. In the time of Jesus they were still clinging to the dream of military greatness and sovereignty. This is why the leadership mostly failed to recognize Jesus and had Him executed for blasphemy – claiming to be the Messiah falsely. They could not believe or understand the Prophecy of a “servant” who would restore Israel.

2. John’s Epiphany moment – Jesus was the “Lamb of God”
John was the first person to realize who Jesus really was. He had a vision or physically saw the Holy Spirit come over Jesus – and remain on Him when Jesus was baptized. John also had a verbal ‘word from God’ that this was the sign of “the one who will Baptize with the Holy Spirit”. Since only God could send the Holy Spirit, Jesus was the long expected divine Messiah. This Baptism of the Holy Spirit would be a New Covenant based on personal relationship with Jesus.

Jesus was the “Lamb of God” because He was like a sacrificial lamb or scapegoat. The Hebrews dealt with the problem of sin by ceremonially praying the sin guilt of people onto an animal and then shedding the blood of the animal. The scapegoat was simply sent out into the desert to die. This did not seem to be working very well. In Jesus we see God reaching out to make a new Covenant in the shed blood of Jesus. We are promised that if we believe that Jesus could die in our place for our sins and if we repent and ask specifically for forgiveness, Jesus will take our guilt to the Cross and Forgive us. Our faith and baptism into Jesus connects us emotionally and personally to Jesus. We are in a sense part of him and so spiritually with Jesus on the Cross. In repenting and confessing our sins to another person we die to our love of them and they lose their power over us.

3. The Readings challenge us to be ready for Epiphany Moments
Our Epiphany moments are probably less dramatic and profound but we do get our spiritual eyes opened so we can understand:

·         How the supernatural dimension works

·         Our relationship to God

·         Who Jesus is

·         How the Holy Spirit both convicts us of sin and blessed us with gifts of love, joy, peace and healing

·         How to protect ourselves from evil

Epiphany moments come to those who search for truth

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