“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5
Light is a penetrating force. A single candle lights a dark room. Stars burning billions of miles from earth light up the night sky, allowing sailors of old to navigate the seas. A single star many years ago called a group of Magi from their homes to seek out the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2).
So earnest were the Magi that ignorance of their final destination did not stop them. They boldly followed the star’s light until they had to ask for directions (Matt 2:1-2). All these Magi knew was that the King of the Jews had been born. They did not know who He was or where they would find him. All they knew was that a light was shining in the darkness, beckoning them to come.
They responded to the call of the light, found the King, and were overwhelmed with joy (Matt 2:10). Yet not all who heard about the light of the King responded as the Magi did. Herod attempted to snuff out the light by killing all children in Judea (Matt 2:16).
As it was so many years ago, so it is today. Responses to the King’s light are as varied now as they were in the Gospels. Some respond with joy, some respond with denial of the light’s existence, and others, like Herod, do all they can to snuff out the light.
Yet the light still shines in the darkness, as brightly today as ever. Christ the King calls all to respond to His light by shining that light in a dark world: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16).
However, followers of Jesus must be aware that the world will respond to their reflection of Christ’s light just as it did did to Christ when He walked this earth (Jn 15:18-20).
The message of the Epiphany is that God has made Himself manifest to the world in Jesus. Jesus, who is the light of the world, makes Himself manifest to the world through His followers. As Advent is a reminder that all followers of Jesus are to serve Him faithfully, and Christmas recalls the message of the angels to not be afraid, so Epiphany continues to reinforce the message that as Christ is the light of the world, so His followers are to respond to that light, without fear, by faithfully serving Him until He returns.
When Jesus returns, His light will fill the whole earth with such light that “…there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light…” (Rev 22:5).