Synopsis: In one of the two most popular, beloved, and convicting stories Jesus tells (the Prodigal Son being the other), we hear Jesus’ response to a young lawyer wanting to clarify his question and justify himself: the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This scandalous story’s hero is a representative of one of the most hated people groups to Jesus’ Jewish audience. Samaritans are the ancestors of the remnants in the land of Israel after the Assyrian conquest. Their religion, blood, and cultural was a mix of surrounding people groups which was abhorrent to the national purification project in Judea during Roman occupation. The challenge Jesus offers is not only to be a good neighbor to those we might dislike, distrust, or even hate, but the real twist is wondering what happens to the human heart when you have to count on the kindness of a stranger? As Paul says about God, becomes true of our neighbors, “kindness leads us to repentance,” and human hearts are transformed by love.
Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Synopsis: Epiphany is a season of discover and illumination. In Epiphany people begin to realize who Jesus is and God became flesh. These strangers from the East arrive with even stranger gifts for the newborn king. The gifts perhaps symbolize the trifold calling of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king. Gold fit for a king; frankincense offered by priests; myrrh to embalm the body of a slain prophet; strange, but illuminating gifts for the little king offered by strangers from a strange land.
Keywords: Epiphany, calling, vocation, ministry, grace, surprises, strangers.