Christmas is over and this morning I woke to a New Year; as usual, I, together with most of the world, look forward with hope for a better year than the last. It is natural, at the end of a period of time that has had its ups and downs, to look forward with hope – yet I wonder why so many times I have felt disappointed by the end of the year rather than fulfilled?
As we went through Christmas, my attention was drawn as it always is to the account of the birth of Jesus. What an event it was; announced in hope and, as His life unfolded, it was filled with miracles. I imagined the joy those felt who visited the newborn Christ and their awe as they actually saw the beginning of the world’s redemption.
Matthew 2:10,11 TLB “Their joy (wise men) knew no bounds! Entering the house where the baby and Mary, his mother, were, they threw themselves down before Him, worshiping.”
The long-awaited promise of the Messiah had finally arrived after centuries of waiting (and I complain when I have to wait a week)! The wise men had followed the star announcing the birth of Christ and had come to Herod, asking him where to find the newborn King (Matthew 2:2). Herod, afraid he would lose his authority to a baby, schemed to kill Him before He even had a chance to live. As we know, his plan was thwarted, as the wise men didn’t report to him after finding Jesus.
These wise men were indeed wise, not because they didn’t report back to Herod (God takes credit for that one, He warned them in a dream Matthew 2:12) they were wise in their understanding of the event that had unfolded; their joy “knew no bounds!” Even before they saw Him, when all they had was a dream, a star in the sky, their joy overtook them. They knew the promise had come; God had come through before they even saw Jesus.
Their joy went a step further when they finally found the baby and His mother. Once they saw Him they “threw themselves down before Him, worshiping.” Their joy wasn’t only a feeling but was expressed in worship. Imagine, Jesus had yet to turn water into wine, heal the sick, and raise the dead but they saw the promise.
For the larger part of Jesus’ life, He lived in obscurity. He was not a famous evangelist or political figure. He was first a child in Nazareth and eventually became a strange itinerant preacher for a short 3 years, whose message was one of love, not political, military, or financial conquest. The 12 disciples who followed Him expected a conquering King, instead they had a willing Sacrifice. How could the star that they had followed, that all of Israel had hoped for, not give them an amazing victory over their enemies? Even after Jesus’ amazing resurrection and appearance to them, they still held out hope for their King to put all their enemies to shame:
Acts 1:6-8 NKJ “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ ”
Jesus, yes a King, did conquer. He conquered something far more powerful than legions of soldiers. His conquest was one over the power of sin that held the world captive since the beginning of time. His star was meant to lead all people to that place of conquest, where sin could be forgiven. The power that was given in the book of Acts wasn’t meant to shame the world, it was meant to win the world. Yes, the star always led them back to the humble beginnings of the King Who came to save, not condemn, the world.
Like the original 12 disciples of Jesus, most of us look forward to the New Year as a star, leading us into a better year than the last, a time to bury past failures.
What am I looking for in 2017? What star have I followed and what have I hoped that star would bring? Finance? Success? A new job? None of these things are bad, but they are not the star; they are not what I worship or why I worship. Perhaps this is the reason for so much disappointment in years past? Have I followed the stars and withheld my worship unless and until I saw what I thought was the promise?
As I come into this New Year and I follow the star, may I follow the real star of promise, of love and hope. May my joy grow into unfettered worship when I see the promise before it has come to pass; just as the wise men threw themselves down and worshiped when they saw the babe before He had worked any miracles. They knew the greatest miracle wasn’t to be His great healings or even raising the dead, His greatest miracle was to come and save the world.
2017, a year of promise, promise of Him coming into my circumstances, the world’s circumstances, what more do I need? This year will be different, this year will be the year that I see that the end will be better even than the beginning.
Ecclesiastes 7:8a NKJ “The end of a thing is better than its beginning…”
I would like to specially invite you all to follow me for the next 21 days as I blog during a 21 day season of fasting. I have several guest bloggers joining in at that time. Please feel free to like, follow, comment, and share. It will be a very special time. Blessings! Lea