A young lady had been taking an early Sunday morning walk through the College grounds. She stopped to knock our door. She had come across a young bird right nearby that could not fly. But she had failed to catch the bird to find what was wrong with it. It was a young yellow wagtail not long left the nest. It’s long tail wagged up and down on the ground.
Each time I got near it made off in short flights. This was serious stuff. There were cats that enjoyed student hospitality that roamed the grounds. They would not share our appreciation for other species of wild life. So we did need to rescue the bird somehow.
I continued in pursuit of saving a creature that was more concerned about finding safety from me. Persistence paid off. My last undignified dive was successful.
As I slowly uncurled my fingers I discovered why the little bird could not fly. Fine but strong threads in the nest material had become entwined around two of the little fledglings. One pretty young wagtail left the nest carrying the body of a dead fledgling bound to its legs.
We cut the dead bird away from the wagtail’s legs with a pair of scissors. It was now free to fly, and that is what it did. No more threats from big cats! Or from human beings!
The sad part of all that was that the bird did not know I wanted to help it. When I had cut it loose from the binding fibers of its birth, it was afraid of me and flew away.
In my reflections I have thought how many of us have viewed God that way – Someone to be feared and from whom to keep a safe distance. That was once my experience – if God was ‘up there’ He must keep his distance!
The evidence in our world makes obvious what the Bible makes clear, that the whole human family has a sin problem and is in real trouble. We don’t just read or see it in the news; we see it around us. We need someone supernatural to help us out. We need a Saviour. Unto us is born a Saviour, “Christ the Lord”. That is what Christmas should remind us of.
Historians tell us that the custom of keeping Christmas arose during the 4th and 5th century AD. They tell us it originated out of pagan traditions. But if Christmas brings family and friends together; and if it becomes a time for reminding ourselves of God’s greatest act in human history, – then surely Christmas should be of real celebration of hope. Christ’s birth into this world is the Good News.
The announcement was first made to the Shepherds watching their flocks by night in the fields of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. We read in LUKE 2:8-11:
“And there were shepherds living out in the field nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the Town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:4 says, “In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son.” The time of Jesus’ first Advent was specifically prophesied 500 years before by Daniel, in Daniel 9:24-27. So Jesus was able to say, in Mark 1:15, of His own mission to this world that, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand.” The promised Messiah had arrived. And that was the message of the angels. “A Saviour is born who is Christ the Lord.”
The human family has a sin problem. The Bible tells us that all have sinned, and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But it also tells us that God has given us a Gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Being saved from the consequences of sin is not something we can do anything about of our selves. We are like the wagtail that was burdened down with a weight that impeded its freedom.
The story of the wagtail illustrates our human condition. King David spoke of it in Psalm 51:5 when he said, “We are born in sin and shaped in iniquity.” The problem is there with us from birth! It develops with us. It doesn’t matter how much humankind learns, our sinfulness undoes any achievement we make in life. Humanity has tried to better itself through education, through science, through technology, through medicine, through social welfare, through social and political engineering – but still disease, and crime, and fear, and warfare, and general social mistrust dog our steps. We see it on the TV and in the newspapers and in everyday life around us?
This is where the Good News of Jesus’ birth comes in. “Unto you is born a Saviour.” Verse 10 tells us, this message is “to all people.” The message is inclusive and universal in its reach. The message meets a universal need. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
We all need Someone who can cut away the fibers of sin and death by which we are bound from birth. It’s called the ‘New birth’. Only God can free us from the dangers of sin and death to which we are all captive. To repeat what Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This is what the gospel is all about – being captured by the love of Christ for us, and being given back our dignity and our freedom to live with Christ now and in eternity.
Just as the wagtail needed someone greater than itself to free it from its bondage, a bondage that would have led to its death, so it is with us. The text tells us – the Person who gives us back our freedom now and for eternity is “Christ the Lord.”
This is what the Bible calls the Gospel: “Unto you is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.” Without the birth of Christ we would all be without hope in a hopeless world. Jesus became “God with us.” And we are told, “He shall save His people from their sins.”
The great Healer, Restorer and Saviour of this world has already begun His work, through His birth, through His life, through His death and through His resurrection. He is now working as our Mediator through whom we have direct access to God for forgiveness and reconciliation.
And just as He fulfilled His promise to come the first time to give His life for ours, so we can be sure He will come the second time for those who wait for Him (Hebrews 9:27-28).
The message of the Bible tells us that the Saviour, ‘Christ the Lord’, will complete His work of saving those who have allowed themselves to be captured by His love.
I’ve lost two of my family just recently. But death is not the end. In Revelation 21:1-5 the Apostle John foresaw the coming restoration when he wrote: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Jesus said the Good News must go into all the world, then shall the end come. And this is the only true Good News for our world: “Unto you this day is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” While there are many claims in our world to be the good news, this is the only Good News this world has – we have “a Saviour – who is Christ the Lord.”