Beauty and You
Text: Matthew 2:1-11
Proposition: We are attracted to beauty in a way that goes beyond our understanding compelling us to look, to wonder, because its very origin is God.
Introduction: This morning I want to talk with you about one thing, one thing so compelling, so familiar that we often miss its deeper intents. The one thing I want to draw your attention to is ‘Beauty’. It’s an appropriate subject when you think about Christmas. The images of beauty resonate in Christmas, the birth of child, the glory of angels, a star lit night, the purity of worship offered by poor shepherds in a humble stable. No human writer could have constructed a scene as beautiful as the birth of Jesus Christ. If you searched the pages of Scripture you’d see the way beauty is referred to again and again. It describes women like Bathsheba, Abagail, Tamar and Sarah. Beauty describes the infant Moses, beauty describes the sparkle in the eyes of David when he was a shepherd boy. Beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel. Beauty is attached to the Temple and even the entire city of Jerusalem. Things, creatures, places, people and even circumstances are beautiful. What is it that makes them all beautiful, perhaps even more importantly, why do we find ourselves noticing and being attracted to all beauty? Let me share a beautiful story with you this morning that may begin to answer that for us because beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, beauty calls you. All beauty beckons you to its origin. Turn to Matthew 2: 1-11 with me.
I. Sometimes There Is More Beauty in the Unseen than the Seen.
We’ve talked about beauty in appearance, in majestic scenes and creatures that inspire us with their beauty like Arabian horses with tails held high. Yet what about the beauty that is even more prevalent, even more at work so to speak. I’m talking about the beauty of character in people, the beauty of design that is beneath the surface but holding the surface up at the same time. In the story before us there is reference to this kind of beauty. The Magi or Wise men come from a great distance east of Jerusalem because they have seen a star. Not only that they definitely connect the sighting of this star to the emergence of a new King in Israel. How did that come about, what triggered this extravagant and time consuming response as they travelled over 500 miles by camel? I think the answer comes back to the beauty of design that culminated in the beauty of their actions as they eventually came before the Christ Child. The magi were astronomers and the appearance of a star meant something of great significance. But that alone would not have been enough to link it to the birth of a king in Israel. Years earlier, over 600 years earlier, Israel had been in captivity in Babylon. Their history and the Scripture would have been with them in the captivity in Babylon, a place not far from where the Magi were. In those Scriptures were passages like Num. 24:17, “…A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel…”. Or in Psalm 72:10,11, “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him.” Or in Isaiah 60 which begins by saying, “Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you…” In verse 3 it adds, “The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising”. Verse 6 says, “…All those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense and they shall proclaim the praises of the LORD.” The point is simply that Magi came because the star meant something, it meant something because the Scripture gave location, title, significance to what was happening there. They had the Scripture because of a captivity that had happened over 600 years earlier. That’s design and it is a beautiful design that brought about a beautiful response. There is beauty in the design of mathematical equations, beauty in the score sheets of music and beauty in the unfolding of prophecy written centuries ago. There is more beauty in what is unseen than in what is seen because the design of beauty is for the discovery of the greatest beauty, Jesus Christ.
II. Sometimes Beauty is More About the Actions of the Heart.
The wise men come to Herod as the most logical of beginning places, who else would better know where this great new King would be than the ruling monarch? Herod calls the Scribes and Chief Priests because who else would know where this Great One would come from? The Scribes do their research and say that it is in a small town just a few miles away from Jerusalem, a little town called Bethlehem. Though the wise men have travelled for perhaps years, though they are obviously wealthy and powerful people and were people of great credibility, neither Herod nor the Chief priests act on this information. Is it possible that the unbelief of the heart hardens it to feeling the beauty of design and paralyzes the persons will to act? What is clear is that the intent of the Magi in coming all this distance because of the design they had seen as unmistakably clear, led them to see great beauty. Their hearts were open to believe that God was at work showing them something they really needed to see because beauty was calling them to see it. Hundreds of years earlier a king called David wrote this in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.” The one thing that David would ask of God, of all the things he could have chosen was this, “to behold the beauty of the LORD…”. We are attracted to beauty in a way that goes beyond our understanding, compelling us to look, to wonder, because the very origin of all beauty is resident in God. All other beauty has merely been hinting at this, pointing to and whispering about the beauty of the LORD. The beauty of the star caught the attention of the Magi as they left Herod and it says they rejoiced with great joy when they saw it. That is they didn’t so much rejoice in the beauty of the star but in the renewed promise that it pointed to. Soon they would see what the beautiful was calling them to see. They come to the house where the Child now is, perhaps about a year or more since He was born. When they see Jesus in the arms of Mary they are overwhelmed, surprised, amazed, awed. They fall down before Jesus and worship Him and give to Him all they have carried this long way.
III. The Beauty of Christ Is the Shared Beauty of God Almighty.
Before the world was created, God Almighty was. Before angels were created, Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit were, and the radiance of all who They were is what beauty originates from. If anything can be called beautiful it will be because it is attractive, there is nothing like it. It will be because it is complex and yet pure, it will be because in it there is design. It will be considered beautiful because of its magnificence, because of its compelling us to look again, to take in the wonder but never be able to comprehend it. The writer in Ecclesiastes 3:11 captured it well, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” The incarnation of Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger and now before the Magi, was this Beauty now made evident in its time. The beauty of Christ is the interplay of all His attributes with all the attributes of God the Father and the Holy Spirit is the active reflection of each. It is resplendent glory that to human eyes is so beautiful it is has a quality that could only be called a terrifying beauty. For human eyes to behold the unveiled glory and beauty of Christ would be like what the Apostle John saw on Patmos in Rev 1. John’s response would be as our response, ‘he fell at His feet like a dead man.’ Beauty is what the encapsulated glory of God looks like, if ever the glory of God could be encapsulated. The radiance of His holiness is not just visual it penetrates to the depths of a sinful soul and we are undone in the presence of His beauty. This is why Christmas is, when the radiant beauty of God encapsulated in the Christ Child came to us that we could behold Him, have Him dwell among us, hear His words of direction for our righteousness, ‘repent and believe’. Jesus Christ your Savior, is here and there is none like Him. Perhaps the words of the prophet Isaiah went through the minds of the wise men that day as they bowed before Christ, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Beauty calls out to you this morning, it beckons you like Wisdom and invites you to an intimacy with the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. It’s where beauty came from and it’s where beauty draws us to. Whatever you see in these next days that you would call beautiful, whatever you feel that is beautiful, whatever you do that is beautiful know that this is the direction it seeks to head you in, the beauty of the righteousness and glory of Jesus Christ.