"Hail, O Source of ev'ry blessing, Father of our human race! Gentiles now, Your grace possessing, in Your courts obtain a place. Grateful now, we fall before You, in Your Church rejoice to live, See Your glory and adore You, thankful for the grace You give.
"Once far off but now invited, we approach Your sacred throne, In Your covenant united, reconciled, redeemed, made one. Now revealed to eastern sages, see the Star of Mercy shine, Myst'ry hid in former ages, myst'ry great of love divine."
The festival of Epiphany, the celebration of the wise men's search for the new King of the Jews, is sometimes called, "The Christmas of the Gentiles." The wise men were Gentiles, that is, they were not descendants of Israel's great patriarch Abraham. Gentiles were not part of the chosen people. They were, as our hymn says, "far off" and "strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12b). Did Israel's Messiah come for the Gentiles, too? The wise men thought so. They found and worshiped the Holy Child of Bethlehem and offered Him rich gifts fit for a king, their King.
Scripture foretold the Messiah's redemptive sacrifice for Jews and Gentiles (called "the nations"). God said to His Messiah, His Anointed One: "I will make you as a light for the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6b). Jesus the Messiah, the Good Shepherd who came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, said, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16).
Many of us are Gentiles, those other sheep who were "once far off but now invited" to believe in Jesus. We are "reconciled, redeemed, made one" by God's grace through faith in Christ Jesus. This astounding act of divine mercy is the "mystery hid in former ages," a mystery revealed in the worship of the "eastern sages," the wise men. The apostle Paul explains this revelation: "This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel" (Ephesians 3:6).
In Jesus' day, the outermost area of the Jerusalem temple was called the Court of the Gentiles. Those who were not descendants of Abraham could not trespass beyond that court; those who did so could be put to death. But now, through faith in Christ Jesus, we who are Gentiles "obtain a place" in the courts of heaven, in the presence of God. This "myst'ry great of love divine" is expressed in familiar words that are no mystery: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
THE PRAYER: Lord and Savior, thank You for welcoming me into Your presence, now and forever. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "Hail, O Source of Every Blessing," which is number 409 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. What's your favorite part in the story of the wise men coming to see Jesus?
2. Do you think the wise men spoke about Jesus to anyone after they returned home?
3. How do we know from the Bible that God wants all people to be saved?
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