A New Perspective: On Life
Matthew 2.1–12 NIV
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
With it being a “new year” we want to offer you some new perspectives. Today, that new perspective is on “life.” Many of us take this first part of the year to implement new resolutions, new habits, and new goals in order to work on our life. And every year a lot of us find ourselves going back to the old things we initially set out to leave behind. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who accomplish those goals but we all have things that have fallen by the wayside or just turned out be nothing more than good ideas.
But when it comes to faith, we shouldn’t have the despair that haunts people’s New Years resolutions. Because of Jesus Christ we have real hope; a victory to be experienced here and now and lived out daily in our lives. The writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes penned a famous phrase that gets it right when it comes to most of the world’s day-to-day experience. He writes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time” (Ecc 1.9–10 NIV). There’s so much truth in this statement. If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve come to understand that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. There are conveniences and inventions from time to time, but at the end of the day all they do is replace the ones we had before.
And then, there is Jesus. He’s this wild-card of a person, this incomparable event, a nothing-else-like-it experience. He can reach into our hearts and give us something that no one or no thing else can. Jesus truly gives us a new perspective on life…if we’ll let Him.
His name means God saves and scripture records that the angelic pronouncement before his birth was that He would save the people from their sins. And what is sin but that awful barrier between us and God; that obstacle to a life lived as it was intended to be lived. Without a relationship with Jesus, none of us knows what real life is actually like; we don’t know what love and hope and contentment are, at the very core of their meaning and experience. Without Jesus, life and all that makes life what it is, is incomplete.
I would liken it to watching a movie that was made in 3D but you were never given 3D glasses. You never knew that things were actually so real, so life-like. You didn’t know that you could experience a movie instead of just watching it. Life without Jesus is less than ideal, less than real, and really just the same-old-same-old. A life without the newness that Jesus brings isn’t simply dull—it is numb. Jesus doesn’t come to make life more interesting, He comes to make life new. He is pulling us out of the despair of there being nothing new and says, “Look at this new thing!”
The scriptures say in Isaiah 43.18–19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah saw the Savior coming on the horizon of history. He believed the promises of God and shared with all that would hear what God had laid on his heart.
And so we have this “new thing,” this new perspective on life. We have Jesus Christ, the victor over sin and death. He is the peace that makes the chaos still; the love that covers all our wrongs; the lamp that will guide our wandering feet; the marvelous light that shines in the darkest night.
And the Wisemen in our text for today set out to see something truly new. They followed a supernatural celestial phenomenon to find this new thing. It wasn’t a king in a palace with guards and gates. It was God, being held by a nervous young mother and a father who was hanging on to his faith. It was a promise, wrapped in flesh, that would take a lifetime to witness and a promise that these Wisemen would probably not see unfold in their lifetime. And yet they came and saw this new thing.
Will you come and see this new thing? Will you have eyes to see and ears to hear? Will you start this year off with God? Come to the altar today. Pray to the God who hears. Call me or come see me and we’ll pray together. But come and see this new thing, this new perspective on life. Amen.