Summary: Jesus offers us a new life through a relationship with Him. How are you responding to that newness?
Tonight, I would like to start off by talking about a simple word – “new.” What comes to your minds and what do you think about when you see or hear this word?
• CD/Movie releases
• Second chances
What emotions are usually associated with these things? I would say that typically there are two sides to the emotional response to something new. On the one side, there is a lot of excitement and joy. Huge parties are thrown for the opening night of the new, popular movie that is coming out. Think about a wedding or a birth; happiness and excitement usually fill the hearts of everyone who is connected to them. Think about the last big “thing” to come out – maybe the X-Box 360 or some other gadget for you guys or the new fashion to come out of Abercrombie and Fitch or Hollister for you girls – excitement and anticipation surround them, especially if you are one of the lucky ones to bring them home.
On the other side of the emotional response to something new is fear and anxiety. Sometimes new things can be scary because you don’t know what is going to happen. I think about my wedding day and, as much joy and excitement there was, there was also a small part of me that was a little scared and anxious. For some of you, change and new things might be overwhelming because you want things to stay the same, the way you always have known them because it doesn’t require you to change. And still some of you might not like new things because you tend to not have the money to get the new popular gadget or to shop at Hollister so you fear how you will be viewed and looked at by others.
So what does this conversation about “new” have to do with a God that is millions of years old and lived on the earth 2000 years ago? Well, I have a few scriptures that I would like us to read together to help us understand this.
John 3:3 – “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’”
Titus 3:4-5 - “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Galatians 6:15 – “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”
Over and over again in the New Testament, we see this comparison between having a relationship with Jesus and being a new creation or having new life. In fact, if you study the life of Jesus, that was His whole mission while He was on earth. He did not come to keep everything the same or to enforce the old laws and rules that existed but to bring about something new and different.
With this newness that Jesus brought, the same emotional responses were present in the people of Jesus’ time. There is a great story that is actually written in Matthew, Mark and Luke that looks at this idea and can really speak to our own lives as we continue talking about jumping into a relationship with Christ. For our time, we are going to focus on the account in Matthew 9:14-17.
***Read Matthew 9:14-17***
As we think about what is going on in this text, it is important to note what was going on right before this. In the preceding verses, we have the story about Jesus and His disciples going to Matthew’s house for a party that we looked at a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two stories come back to back from one another. Think about it – there were Jesus and His disciples at a dinner party having a blast and hanging out with “sinners.” Meanwhile, the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees were fasting and mourning. How wound you have felt if you were a Pharisee or one of John the Baptist’s disciples?
I can just picture them sitting together and just complaining nonstop about what is going on. Half of them are prideful and are just bashing Jesus and His disciples. “Don’t they know the rules! Today is a day we should be fasting and mourning…and they are out partying; partying with sinners at that! They are not pleasing God! How can they do that?” The other half of them are curious and feeling a little bitter. “Isn’t that Jesus guy a Rabbi and religious leader? How come He and His disciples get to party while we follow all the rules?”