Monday began a new season in the Church Year as we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. On January 6, the Church remembers the coming of the wise men from the East. Though that is the historical event celebrated, the meaning behind it is why we really celebrate. We remember the visit of the wise men because it reveals that Christ is the universal Savior. He was not sent only to save the Jewish people, but, as St. John saw in his vision of heaven, people of every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The wise men from the East are representative of all the Gentiles. The Feast is called Epiphany, because the word means “to make manifest” or “to reveal.” On that day, Christ was revealed as the great Light for the people who walked in darkness and dwelt in the land of the shadow of death (Is. 9:2). And now, through the intervening weeks before we begin the season of Lent, Christ is revealed as God and Man. This time in the Church Year uncovers the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures will lift the earthly veil which hides Incarnate God below. Today we are shown that, even at a young age, Jesus knew who He is and for what reason He came to earth.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.