What Do New Year’s Eve & Salvation Have In Common?: A Chance To Hit The Reset Button

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Luke 7:11-17 — As we sit here on the last day of 2014, there are mixed emotions for many of us. Another year is ending. For some, the year has been one that they would like to forget. For others, it was a so-so year. For still others, it was a great year. For all, the year ends. It is time to hit the reset button. In a matter of hours, a new year will begin. 2015 is close at hand. The end of an old year and the beginning of a new one is an arbitrary dividing line that offers us an opportunity to leave the old behind and start anew, to get a fresh start, to start over, to hit the reset button and begin the game again. In that sense, a new year is a lot like salvation. It is an unearned new opportunity. It is given to us by the mere rolling around of the calendar. We do not get this dividing line by our own effort. It is simply given to us by the progression of time.

Jesus saw her suffering and his heart overflowed with compassion. This scene illustrates salvation for us. Because Jesus set His glory aside when He came to earth as a man, He could not be everywhere all at once. Although He was omniscient still, He could not be everywhere at once. So, here in this scene depicted in this passage, He happens upon a funeral possession. He was moved by seeing a widow leading her son’s funeral possession. He had great compassion for her situation. As a widow in the first century world, He knew that the woman’s situation was now desperate. As a woman in the first century, she was dependent on men for her livelihood and even her place to live. Inheritance did not go to women. Not only was she mourning the death of a loved one, she was also mourning her very bleak future. Without a husband and now without a son, her situation would quickly become desperate. She could be destitute within days and have to resort to begging for food and her very existence would become threatened.

Jesus intervenes. He had so much compassion for the situation that He stops the procession and performs a miracle. He raises the widow’s dead son back to life. There was nothing done by the widow or the son that drew this great favor from Jesus. It is apparent that Jesus and the widow were not acquainted with one another. She did not offer Jesus anything. She did not pay Him to do this. It was a completely unmerited act of compassion and kindness by our Savior Jesus Christ. He had compassion. He understood the situation and for no reason other than the love that Jesus has for all mankind, He broke forward into this family’s life and changed it forever. This unwarranted favor changed their lives forever. Although the son surely would die another physical death later as we are all limited dying humans, it is a sure bet that the lives of this mother and son were never the same again after this encounter with Jesus.

This momentary glimpse in the narrative progression in Luke offers us a look at salvation. Our lives are on a trajectory where we will intersect Jesus at some point in it, just as Jesus happens upon this funeral possession. Before we intersect with Jesus, we are lost in our dead and decaying sin life. We are like the widow who had no hope. Her situation was headed for desperate times. She could see no future. She could see no way out. We are the same way when we intersect our paths with Jesus. We are sinners in desperate situations. We see that our fate is a life of desperation, without joy, and feeling like we have no alternatives. We, as this widow, have hit rock bottom. The circumstances of our lives have led us down wrong paths and we are dead just as the son in this scene is. We are fixed in our circumstances and there is no change that can be made to it. We mourn. We cry out. We cannot fix anything. We need help but we see no way to change it ourselves.

Then, we intersect with Jesus. He has compassion upon us. He has the power to change our situation. He has paid the price for our situation even before we knew who He was. He walks into our lives and raises us from the death that is our life. He changes everything. Do we deserve this unmerited favor? Of course not. He raised this son from the dead. He had done nothing to deserve it. Jesus did not ask questions of the people in the procession as to whether this son deserved this miracle or whether the widow deserved this favor. He was moved by their suffering and He changed their situation. Jesus is so moved by compassion for your and my situation that He died for us on the cross as a sin offering to make us clean, whole, and restored to God. All we have to do is believe that He is the Son of God and that His death on the cross was a substitutionary offering for our sins-past, present, and future. And we must believe that He was not your average sacrifice (sacrificial death and that was the end of it). No, He was raised from the dead. He conquered sin and death. These are beliefs that we must have. We do not have to earn salvation. We must simply believe these things. When we proclaim these things with our mouths, we are yanked out of our desperate death spiral. There is nothing more than we have to do than believe and our lives are completely altered at that moment by the Holy Spirit. Forever changed by Jesus’ intervention into our lives. Forever changed by our intersection with Jesus. Forever changed by His compassion for our suffering. Forever changed by something that we did not deserve. No questions about what led us to our intersection with Jesus. Jesus is just filled with compassion for us having found our way into His path. Undeserved opportunities to reset our lives. Jesus offers us that opportunity when we intersect Him in our lives.

Just as the changing of the clock from 11:59:59 tonight to 12:00:00 offers us new hope for a brand new year without us having done anything to deserve a new opportunity, we have the same thing in Jesus Christ at our moment of salvation. The old year is swept away. The new one begins. The old dead life we knew before salvation is swept away and a new life in Christ begins. The calendar changes and gives an opportunity to hit the reset button on our lives. Salvation is the same. Salvation is a fresh start. Leaving the old behind and starting anew. Just like when the clock strikes midnight tonight. As we celebrate new years, new starts, let us celebrate, too, the new life we have in Christ that makes us new each and every day. Jesus – the ultimate reset button.

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