On this first day of celebrating Epiphany (which means “manifestation” or “appearing”) it is quite appropriate to drink in the wonderful teaching of the Apostle Paul on the subject of mystery. The term “mystery” as used by Paul is not so much like reading a Sherlock Holmes novel in the sense that we need to do some detective work to solve a murder. Mystery for Paul is something that was once hidden or obscure, but is now revealed.
The great mystery that lurked in the shadows of the Old Testament but is now fully revealed in the New Testament is, in Paul’s words, “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Perhaps that truth come to light does not seem very bright or astounding to you and I. Yet, back in Paul’s day, this was momentous. Yes, most Jews understood that many Gentiles could and would come to worship God, but none of them saw it coming that those Gentiles would actually be completely grafted into life with them and be formed into a new society, the church, the community of the redeemed. Jew and Gentile would cease to be separate peoples and would now become fellow heirs as one people in Christ.
As non-Jews, maybe we take for granted that we believe and are full participants in Christ and full-fledged members of Christ’s Body, the Church. But because of the faithful ministry of people like Paul and Peter and the other original apostles, the vast majority of believers throughout the world are us Gentiles. This is, then, to be a day of celebration and gratitude that God has included us through the person and work of the Lord Jesus. No longer are we shrouded in mystery. We share in Christ and are partakers in all the good promises of God. Let us, therefore, punctuate this day and season with thanksgiving to God for his gracious outreach to us.
Revealing God, you have included us in Christ by grace through faith so that your wisdom might now be made known to all. Thank you for your gracious wooing us to your church, and giving us your very great and precious promises to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.