“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son . . . to redeem those who were under the law (Galatians 4:4-5)
The good news was that the Atlanta Police car turned left from Habersham onto Valley Rd. within minutes after my call. The bad news was that the Atlanta Police car turned left from Habersham onto Valley Rd. within minutes after my call.
I would have preferred not to call at all. But after the fender-bender collision I had at Habersham and Valley it seemed like the right thing to do.
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 (a timely response from police) often points to something gone wrong (the wreck).
A tumor is benign . . . but it’s there and it 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.
‘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 randomly pulls into my driveway I will not be relieved. I might be confused and alarmed, 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.
Christmas is not truly good news unless we understand that there’s bad news. Not surprisingly, that message doesn’t get much press in December. But it’s definitely there, plain as day, in the words of the angel. “You are to give him the name ‘Jesus,’ because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Jesus came to save us from our sins. We couldn’t save ourselves, so God did it for us in sending his son. And in doing so, God gave us exactly what we needed.
Before the season ends, O God, we need to get honest and make our confession to you. Our 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.