January 16, 2015

The Pure in Heart Have Epiphany Moments (Epiphany 2 Readings)

Nathanial had an epiphany moment. He suddenly saw who Jesus was. He specifically realized Jesus was more than a teacher. Nathanial had his spiritual eyes opened and saw that Jesus was also divine. He believed that he would see “....see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John1.51) This is an Epiphany moment because it changed how Nathanael thought about Jesus and about the spiritual world. Nathanael saw Jesus as the link between the earth and heaven, between the physical and spiritual dimensions. The Readings all urge us to live holy lives without deceit, guile or sexual impurity.

1. Nathanael is chosen because he is without guile (John 1.47)
Guile is an older English word that is not used often. It means deception, falseness or lying. Some translations of the Bible refer to Eve being “beguiled” by Satan in the Garden. In modern language we would say that Nathanael is fully “transparent”
  • Does not hide his thoughts, feelings and intentions.
  • Down side is the “can anything good come out of Nazareth” comment.
  • Point is that he is not trying to pretend he is something he is not.
  • Not like many people who put so much energy into appearing good that they get confused and divided about who they really are.

The Gospel reading is teaching us that people like Nathanael are more likely to have Epiphany moments and have their spiritual eyes opened. This Passage is also important in that it helps us all understand who Jesus is. This is a major question in our time when many voices are playing down the divinity of Jesus and watering down His spiritual authority. If Jesus is just another teacher only smarter, we are all in deep trouble. We all need to keep awake and watch for this heresy in our time. We all need to be present with Nathanael when he sees who Jesus really is - God with us.

2. Paul is warning us to maintain our spiritual purity
The Apostle Paul is teaching us that our bodies are to be “...a temple of the Holy Spirit”. (1 Corinthians 6.19) He is trying to explain that our bodies are like a container or frame that contains or is connected to our personal spirit. Our personal spirit is sometimes referred to as our “soul”. It is the part that leaves the body when we die and goes to be with Jesus.
  • Our  soul is connected to our body and is affected by what we do.  
  • If we fill our minds with images of sex or violence we pollute our soul.
  • Paul is teaching that the same applies to sexual relationships. The important point is that people who have a sexual relationship become connected spiritually. This means that all of the spiritual pollution in one can flow into the other

Paul uses the example of a prostitute who would have a lot of spiritual pollution - for example spirits of lust. We would not want to connect ourselves to such a person.

  • Biblical rules of sexual conduct protect people from spiritual pollution.
  • Protection from spiritual pollution enables Epiphany moments.

Christianity is more than morality. In Jesus we can see and personally experience a teacher who opens our eyes and helps us see the angels.

3. Samuel had an Epiphany moment because of his purity of heart
If we read further on beyond this passage we discover that Samuel is about to be given a very harsh prophecy concerning Eli, his teacher. Eli has not restrained his sons from doing evil. God is now reaching out to Samuel to ‘take the point’ and become a prophet. Like Nathanael and Paul who would come after him, we see the hand of God reaching out to open the spiritual eyes of a person who is pure in heart.
  • Samuel’s Epiphany moment is that it is possible that God would speak in an audible voice to a human.
  • Challenge was - “Now Samuel did not know the lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3.7)

The only thing Samuel - and all of us could do to prepare for his Epiphany moment was to try and live a life of study, love, purity and listening.

Serious Christians expect more
This may sound like an election slogan but it is important. We live in a time of great religious confusion.
  • Supernatural worldview of the Bible has been under attack by academics and Liberal philosophers since the Enlightenment
  • Supernatural worldview has been rejected by many people who have not read the whole Bible or had an experience of the supernatural

The readings for today teach us that Christianity is more than a philosophy dreamed up by ancient mystics or clever teachers. The readings for today teach us that Christianity is a revealed religion. It is revealed and confirmed in the personal experiences of many individuals who have had Epiphany moments and actually experienced or heard the audible voice of God. We need to be clear that Christianity is unique in its claims of authentic, repeatable personal experiences of the divine. All of us should expect a personal encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This is not just a high for the few, this is the promise for all!


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