Epistle: Ephesians 3:1-12
1This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
This lesson for Epiphany Sunday focuses on the prominent message of Epiphany that the Good News of Great Joy we celebrate at Christmas is for ALL people, not just a select few. The coming of the Magi from foreign lands to worship a newborn king opens the doors to all. This passage reminds us that ALL are given access to God’s promises and hope and love.
Two things catch my attention in this passage from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. The first is the word “mystery.” The word shows up four times in this passage.
Recently, I have come to enjoy reading mysteries. It is fun to see how the plots are developed and how the authors are able to drop some hints along the way, sometimes to direct one down a possible path to the answer, while others to throw one off that path. When I get to the end of the book, that which is hidden is revealed, and the plot all makes sense and fits together (most of the time!).
Dr. Walt Bouman, one of my seminary professors, also loved to read mystery novels. But he had a strange way of reading them – he would always read the LAST chapter FIRST. He would then return to the beginning of the book and see how the plot would develop.
The good news that we proclaim as Children of the King is that we know the end of the story, and the mystery has been resolved. In the end, God wins. Jesus Christ came to die and to rise. He came to fight the greatest battles we face – sin and death. Jesus does not avoid it, but meets it head on. He fights the battles and he wins. His victory is our victory. Mystery solved!
The second thing that catches my attention is verse 12. Jesus Christ gives us ACCESS TO GOD. And that access is given to us so that we can come before God in boldness and confidence.
The image that comes to mind is Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion entering into the throne room of the Mighty and All Powerful Wizard of Oz. Remember how they enter? With boldness and confidence? Hardly.
How do you come before God? Are God’s ways a mystery to you? Do you come in fear and trembling, or do you come with boldness and confidence?
We have access to God through Jesus Christ. We can come before God knowing that God knows you and me, and the one God knows is the one God loves.
Like a grandchild running into the outstretched arms of a loving grandparent, may we come into the presence of God. It’s no mystery. God loves you. You are God’s beloved.
Let us pray: Good and gracious God, we give thanks for your Son, in whom the mystery is solved and our access to you is given. May we come to you with boldness and confidence, knowing that we are always welcomed and loved. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen
Let us pray: Thank you, God for loving us. May we see in our neighbor one who is loved by you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.