INI + AMEN.
The body and blood of Jesus tells you everything you need to believe about God. That’s because Epiphany’s all about God revealing Himself in Jesus Christ. He reveals Himself in Jesus to be not only for Jews but also Gentiles. He wasn’t just for those in and around Bethlehem or in Judea—that’s Christmas. And He wasn’t just for “the Magi from the east.” He’s for you and me, too. We know that in the body and blood: given for you, shed for you.
God is only revealed in and through Jesus Christ. No other generic “god talk” will do, like it so often does. There’s so much “god talk” out there in the world. There’s so much “god talk” in those we encounter, too. Sadly, so often we also only talk in terms of “god.” So much talk of god but not Jesus.
Only Jesus reveals God because Jesus is God. That’s what it means that He’s Christ. He’s “God over all blessed forever,” (Rom 9:5) as Paul says. Jesus is the “Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel,” “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:3) It’s why the Magi “fall down and worship Him.” They take a knee, genuflect, prostrate themselves before their flesh and blood King, their flesh and blood Savior, their flesh and blood God.
Jesus reveals what’s in His Father’s heart, and that means Jesus reveals the Father’s love, mercy, and forgiveness toward us. That’s also what it means that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of Yahweh. For Him to reveal all that that takes drastic action. He doesn’t reveal that in His being born for you. He’s born so that He can do what needs to be done: suffer, die, and rise on the third day for you. All revealed in the body and blood: “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
That’s what it means to be the Christ. His dying for every single person ever is also revealed in the body and the blood. “This is My body which is given for you. This is My blood which is shed for you.” God reveals Himself in His Son Jesus, the flesh and blood Jesus, who’s born, dies, rises, and delivers in our time His body and His blood to us.
We don’t like it. We don’t want everything we need to know about Jesus being in His body and His blood. We’d rather live in a world where we only talk about “god,” and as long as someone drops that g word, then they must be a Christian because, after all, they talk about “god” and live nice lives. But that doesn’t work. Even Herod could talk about “the Messiah” even He would say, “I too will worship Him.” But the Magi didn’t “rejoice exceedingly with great joy” because of generic god. They didn’t “fall down and worship” just some big powerful “god” up there somewhere. They “fell down and worshiped” the Toddler-God, Jesus, the flesh and blood Jesus. The body and blood Jesus was all they needed—in His toddler face they saw God’s own face.
To get to the body and blood Jesus you need the Word. Only the Word leads you to Him. Only the Word draws you to His body and blood. Only His Word delivers what it says, “My body and blood given and shed for you.” Without the Word you’ll end up in the wrong place, just like the magi. “After Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” Stars and creation and nice lives can only get you to the generic god of our own imagination. The magi needed something else to get to the flesh and blood Jesus. “[The chief priests and scribes] said, ‘In Bethlehem because the prophet says…” The Word led them to Bethlehem. Only after the Word does the miraculous star move.
So also now, only after the Word does the bread and wine do something miraculous. The bread and wine deliver to you, just what the star delivered the magi to, the body and blood of Jesus. And for there to be the Word you need someone to preach it to you. Paul’s big on that in our Epistle reading. The Magi and Herod had the chief priests and the scribes. (The magi heard and believed; Herod did not.) But the preachers are all about delivering to you the flesh and blood Jesus through preaching and His body and blood for you to eat and to drink.
The body and blood of Jesus reveal everything about God. Jesus is God. He’s the Son of the Father. He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is flesh and blood God, who dies and rises for you and delivers His body and blood for you to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of your sins. That’s everything you need to believe about God. It’s all in the Word, all in the Gift: “This is My body, This is My blood, which are given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Only in His body and blood can you grasp hold of God, receive God, believe God. The magi were only satisfied when they were face to face with the flesh and blood Jesus, “who is God over all, blessed forever.” You, too, you are brought near by the Spirit to eat and drink deeply of the body and blood of Jesus. You end up satisfied. That’s Epiphany. Epiphany for you. All in the body and blood of Jesus for you.
INI + AMEN.