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It is January and the hours of darkness still outnumber those of daylight. If you are not fond of shorter days, the good news is that we are gaining about two minutes of daylight each day.

Light dispels darkness. An epiphany is a light-shedding moment—a moment of seeing something that was not seen before, of reaching a greater understanding or clarity. We all have various epiphanies, but unrivaled as the greatest epiphany is what we celebrate annually: the Epiphany concerning Jesus, the Light of the World. This Epiphany is the revelation and subsequent learning about the person and work of the Messiah. This Epiphany leads to clarity that Jesus, born of Mary in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, is indeed the eternal Son of God Who became flesh for the salvation of the world (John 1:1-5).

This is the one essential Epiphany, because it comes from God’s grace and is born out of His truth. It leads to peace with God, purpose on earth, confidence in a sin-broken world, and eternal life in Heaven where there will be no more epiphanies because then “we shall see Him [God] as He is,” (1 John 3:2) and “shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

The Holy Spirit brings light by revealing our Savior to us through the Word of God. “[God] has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) This light enables us to have an epiphany of seeing the blessings that are ours through Jesus: rescue from sin’s guilt and condemnation, peace with God, the answer to a guilty conscience, and so much more.

Martin Luther had an epiphany when the Holy Spirit led him to understand that the righteousness of God comes to sinners through faith, rather than by works (Romans 1:17). God grants epiphanies such as this as we study His Word. An epiphany takes place when a Bible passage all of a sudden “clicks” and makes sense, or is applicable to our lives in a way that had never before occurred to us, or when new experiences open our eyes to consider a passage with a fresh and new approach. Every day is a new opportunity for the Word of God to give us new instruction, new understanding, new trust, and new weapons in our arsenal for doing battle against our spiritual enemies.

All of this comes down to that one great Epiphany: God’s revelation of the Messiah from promise, through prophets, to the life and redeeming work of Jesus. It culminates in the essential Epiphany that Peter had when he confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) This is the truth that provides the spark for every spiritual epiphany we have. Every hope hangs on this truth. If this truth is sacrificed, compromised, or lost, the light is extinguished and darkness once again settles upon a soul.

Just like a January day burdened by darkness, many souls remain burdened by their sins, along with the sorrow, anger, and uncertainty which thrive within the shadows. These are souls for whom to pray—whether they are personally known to us or not. These are souls who need to hear the Gospel. These are souls just like our own—redeemed by Jesus, the Son of God, Who is revealed in the light of His Word.

This essential Epiphany is life-giving, eternal, and bright enough to create a blaze of never-ending joy in the darkest reaches of our hearts.

Dear Jesus, shine in my heart always. Amen.

All of this comes down to that one great Epiphany: God’s revelation of the Messiah from promise, through prophets, to the life and redeeming work of Jesus.

Wayne Eichstadt is pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, Washington.