“but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Cor 1:23-24)
Epiphany is the moment of sudden and great revelation or realization: for the wise men recorded in Matthew’s second chapter, a provocatively bright star led them to this – to find and worship the new-born King; for the celebrants at the Cana wedding, turning water into wine drew their eyes and minds upon this miracle worker; for John the Baptist, the heavenly dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit rested on a man who John now identified as the Lamb of God. All these were Epiphanies – the revelation of Jesus Christ as King. Such Epiphanies continue in personal, community and national contexts: Think about Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus, when “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him” (Acts 9) – a total conversion ensuing out of this great revelation. Follow this man to Corinth for another Epiphany.
Who were the Corinthians? When it comes to the task of preaching the gospel, there are places that are very hard – the gospel does not easily penetrate; plenty of birds are present to eat up every gospel seed that falls there, and the rock is so hard that any remnant seed just cannot start growing; or the thorns are so aggressive that any seed that dares germinate will be chocked immediately. Such was the city of Corinth – eminent among all ancient cities for wealth, and luxury, and indulgence. It was a signal illustration of the grace of God, and the power of the gospel, that a church was organized in that city of gay, fashion, luxury, and immorality; put simply, even Corinth experienced an Epiphany!
This shows that the gospel is adapted to meet and overcome all forms of wickedness, and to subdue all classes of people to itself. If it could happen in Corinth, there is not now a city on earth so gay and so reckless that the same gospel may not overcome its corruptions, and subdue it to the cross of Christ.
Albert Barnes’ introduction points to the possibility that ‘Sosthenes, who was the principal agent of the Jews in arraigning Paul before Gallio, was converted, and perhaps some other persons of distinction; but it is evident that the Corinthian church was chiefly composed of those who were in the more humble walks of life’. The two categories of people here in this city are the Jews and the Gentiles, some of high ranks in society, and majority of poor and lowly lowly status. Paul asserts that no matter what the story of Christ’s Cross sounds like to Jews or Gentiles, from both peoples have come a thrid category: those who believe, to whom the truth about Christ has been revealed. And to these that believe – those who have experienced the Epiphany – Christ crucified is the wisdom of God and the power of God. He is the same today – open your eyes, behold and embrace Christ the Lord in your life.