The good news was that the Atlanta Police car made the left turn from Habersham onto Valley Rd. within minutes after my call.
The bad news was that the Atlanta Police car made the left turn from Habersham onto Valley Rd. within minutes after my call.
I would have preferred not to call at all. A fender-bender collision at Habersham and Valley made it necessary. As it turned out the damage was so slight that there was really nothing for the APD to do. Still, I’m thankful for the timely response. And I’m also aware that what comes to us as good news often points to something gone wrong.
A tumor is benign . . . but it still needs to come out. You are told you will not be laid off . . . but the company is in trouble and others still have to be let go. To us a savior is born . . . which means we need saving. We are not well. And what isn’t well is beyond our own capacity to make right.
The angel’s message to Joseph was very clear about two things: where Mary’s baby had come from and what that baby was to be named. As to origin, the angel made it perfectly clear that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” And as to the child’s name, he was to be named Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).
Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua which means “the Lord saves.” At Christmas time we hear this as a “glad tiding.” The angel’s announcement is good news; it reason for great joy and thanksgiving and glory to God for his favor to us.
But these glad tidings carry with them a quiet implication – a verdict on the condition of the human race. The announcement of a savior being born is only good news to those who need saving.
If I’m sitting in my house watching TV and eating Oreos and an ambulance pulls into my driveway I will not be relieved. I might be confused or annoyed – but not relieved and thankful. But after too many years of watching TV and eating Oreos a day may come when I am not well. Something goes wrong. Maybe, by God’s grace, someone can call 911 and the ambulance will come. And when it does there will be relief and gratitude and hope placed in the paramedics.
At Christmas, spiritually speaking, there are plenty of us eating Oreos and watching TV, feeding on the goodies and taking in the sights of the season. Many have no idea that something is wrong. They might hear about the birth of a savior but it has nothing to do with them, or so they think.
Christmas is not truly good news unless we are convinced that there’s bad news. That message doesn’t get too much press in December. Too negative perhaps. But it’s definitely there, plain as day, in the words of the angel. Jesus came to save us from our sins. We couldn’t save ourselves, so God did it for us in sending his son.
So the real question is this: An ambulance has pulled up into your driveway in the form of God’s infant son. What is your response?
Before the season ends, O God, we would get honest and make our confession to you. This world is not well. We are not well. We need a savior. Thank you for sending your son. Thank you for loving the world so much that you sent Jesus to save us – to do what we could not do by our own efforts. May this Christmas bring us news that is truly good, because we have faced the truth about ourselves and turned to your grace through Christ our Lord. Amen.