Welcome the King
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Gabor),
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
“For unto to us a child is born, unto us, a son is given”
This verse from the classic Handel’s Messiah reminds us of Christmas day. God sent His son to Earth in the form of a baby to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He came as a baby but will return as the King. His purity is reflected in the Christ candle.
The Christ Candle is placed in the center of the wreath. It is white just like the spotless Lamb of God. Some churches wait to bring out the Christ candle until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Waiting to add it to the center of the wreath builds suspense and reminds us of His birth, as well as His second coming. No one knew the time of His birth before it happened. No one knows the time of His return as King. We are to wait expectantly for His second coming.
To remind us of Christ’s sacrifice, Advent continues through to Epiphany which falls on January 6th, approximately forty days after the first Sunday of Advent. Many churches observe Epiphany on the Sunday after January 6th. Epiphany is a holy day in Church traditions to remind us of the wise men visiting Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11
Since verse 11 says “going into the house,” the wise men did not arrive on the night of Jesus’ birth. The church leaders chose a date shortly after Christmas to remember their arrival. The Church tradition for Epiphany is to remind us of the awe-inspiring meeting between the wise men and Jesus. The definition of Epiphany is “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being.” The wise men met Jesus and fell down to worship him. Once they met Him, they each offered a gift.
The gifts they offered were; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold points to the royalty of Christ. It reminds us of Him having all riches and glory. Frankincense was used as incense which symbolizes Christ’s priesthood. Myrrh is an anointing oil, which reminds us of His humanity and sacrifice for our sins. Each gift was very expensive at the time and used by people to show their respect and reverence for a person. Mary and Joseph did not deserve these great gifts, Jesus alone deserved them.
After giving their gifts, the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to meet with Herod again. They left Joseph, Mary, and Jesus after warning them of Herod’s evil schemes. They went back home in a different way to avoid Herod.
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Matthew 2:16
We don’t know exactly when they arrived, but due to Herod’s order requiring all male children two and under to be murdered, historians believe they arrived after Jesus’ birth but before His third birthday. This atrocity is also known as the Massacre of the Innocents.
When Herod found out the wise men were not coming back to see him, he ordered all the male children killed. Yet Joseph had been warned in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt which kept Jesus safe. We do not know what Joseph and Mary did with the gifts but we do know that the wise men came to give their honor to Jesus.
On Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth and look forward to his 2nd coming. On Epiphany, we celebrate the arrival of the wise men and we worship Christ our King, High Priest, and Sacrifice.
Verses to Discuss:
Hymns to sing with your family:
O Come O Come Emmanuel
O Come All Ye Faithful
Joy To the World
Hark the Herald Angels
Silent Night Holy Night
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