Epiphany as we know means “revelation” and we still talk of having an “Epiphany moment” in common parlance.
No-one in the New Testament demonstrates this better than Nathaniel. He went from a sceptic saying “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” to saying “You are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel” and the catalyst for that change was just one meeting with Jesus!
The most written about conversion in the New Testament was Saint Paul of course. His conversion too came after a meeting with Jesus except in Saint Paul’s case this was a meeting with the risen Christ. Paul or Saul as he was also known heard Jesus speak to him and say “Saul Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
While both conversions, that of Nathaniel and of Saul happened in very different circumstances, the common factor was a personal encounter with Jesus.
Relationships are the most important thing in our life, whether it is with our husbands or wives, children, parents, friends, colleagues etc..
Christianity is first and foremost about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Christianity is about the most important relationship you can ever have – that between yourself and your creator.
The reason God revealed himself through a human life is so that we could get to know what God was like in a way we could understand. Through Christ we know that God is loving, forgiving, righteous, compassionate and sacrificial.
That close personal relationship with God is evident in the lives of the Patriarchs and the prophets in the Bible but for most ordinary Jews God was a distant and fearful entity. So distant and Holy that they dared not even utter his name.
Through Jesus we learnt to think of God in terms of personal relationship. Jesus thought of God as His father and He encouraged us to think of Him in the same terms.
Later on in John’s gospel Philip asks Jesus to show us the Father, and Jesus responds by saying “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” in terms of his nature and character and general will.
And that is what Jesus also meant when he said “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man”
This is a reference to the story of Jacob’s ladder in the book of Genesis (Chapter 28) when in a dream Jacob sees a ladder stretching from the place where he slept reaching right up to heaven.
The spiritual meaning of this allusion is that that place for Jacob was a place connected to heaven, a place from which access to the Lord God himself was possible.
Jesus is saying that He is that ladder, that access point through whom you have access to the Father.
Through Jesus we have access to God, giving us the greatest and most satisfying relationship anyone could ask for.
This central and important relationship is the one that can truly satisfy our deep spiritual hunger. This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the bread of life”. I am the spiritual food that satisfies. Perhaps this morning those are the words that should be on our lips when we take the bread at Holy Communion....”I am the bread of Life”