This Christmas, we are living in a world that is desperate for good news. A global pandemic has gone from days to weeks to months, and soon now, to an entire year. I recently saw an article that claimed that this pandemic would be with us for the rest of our lives. That’s about as depressing as we can imagine.
Of course, the pandemic is not just the threat of disease. It has had an impact on the economy. Furthermore, the demand for social distancing and the limitation to family gathering has had an impact on all of our Christmas plans. Many of us are struggling as our churches have been reduced in terms of the number of people that are allowed in any one service. We so want to hear good news.
To some, that good news is wrapped up in the hope of an effective vaccine. I myself hope for this. It may well be that the Coronavirus is here for a long time, but an effective vaccine would mitigate the damage of this worldwide plague. Furthermore, it would allow us to return to some semblance of normalcy.
Let me interject one very depressing fact. Once the Coronavirus is behind us, I promise you, there will be another crisis. If history has taught us anything, it is that we are never safe. Oh, how we need to hear good news.
2,000 years ago, a company of shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. Suddenly, the night sky was ablaze with light as the angel of the Lord appeared to them. Luke 2:10 says, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. What then was the cause of the good news? “This very day”, said the angel, “a saviour has been born.”
We only need a saviour if we are in great peril. If all is going well, who needs a saviour?
Years ago, I was on summer vacation with my wife. We were riding our motorcycle and the day was extraordinarily hot. We found a river flowing alongside of a road we were travelling and decided to stop there and cool off. I got into my swimming shorts and waded into the river, about as high as my waist. I noticed as I looked upstream, a dog floating in the river. As he got closer, I could see he was in serious trouble. He was struggling to get out of the fast-flowing stream, but he was clearly losing strength. I waded out as far as I dared, reached out as far as I could, and grabbed the dog by the leash around his neck. In an instant, the water washed over his head, and I thought he would panic and bite me. But he seemed to know I was helping. After some struggle, I managed to get him ashore.
That’s the definition of a saviour. If a saviour does not step forward and rescue us, we will be lost. And that is the Christmas message. One crisis after another sweeps through our lives and the world reminding us, that we do not control our own destiny. Furthermore, our alienation from God is so great, eventually, divine justice will sweep over us. How will we not drown in the river of his righteousness?
And with that, the words of the angel ring out at Christmas time. A saviour has been born! For all the complacent of this world, it is no news at all. But for the lost and desperate, for the transgressor and sinner; what wonderful news!