“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Php. 2:7-8, NIV)
With these words the apostle Paul exhorts Christians to humility after the example of Christ. He who was highest made Himself lowest for us. Though humanity is the pinnacle of God’s creatures, made in His image, in comparison with the glory of God we are nothing. But God the Son eschewed the privileges of divinity to become man for our salvation.
Such was the advent of the King of Kings, which those wise men followed the star to see two millennia ago. At epiphany we remember their coming, noble guests from far away who journeyed to see the newborn king. But, for us, epiphany is richer because we know the story of this great king.
In the passage from Philippians, Paul goes on to describe the depths of Christ’s humility, that He died on the cross–a death which, like His incarnation, was for us. Having humbled Himself so far in obedience to the Father, having done obedience to cover our disobedience, He has been exalted:
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (vv.9-11, NIV)
Epiphany is richer for us because the newborn king lived a human life, died for our sins, and has been exalted on high. He sits enthroned above, and reigns forever and ever. He has gone from the manger to the cross, to the tomb, to rise again, to glory. We will not find Him in a stable, but at the right hand of God the Father; and, sooner or later, everyone will acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ.
That is the invitation of epiphany: to bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, giving glory to God the Father. For Christians today it is a joyous thing, because it reminds us that we have hope and confidence in this dark world, hope in the face of adversity, confidence against every setback, joy in the certain triumph of Christ our Lord.
And for everyone it is an invitation. You were made to worship God. Christ has triumphed over sin and death; in Him you may be brought back to God, made whole, and restored to your vocation of worship. Come to the King.
Come and worship Him.