Summary: What Christmas is all about is this: that God hasn’t turned on us; He has turned to us.
First Presbyterian Church
Wichita Falls, Texas
Christmas Eve 1997
THE GOD WHO TURNS TO US
Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)
Not long ago, I heard about a conversation some second graders were having about Santa -- whether old Saint Nick was real or not. One child said that he had thought at one time that Santa was not real. His cousins had told him this. And so the next time he was at the shopping mall, he ran up to Santa and kicked him in the leg. Santa let out a resounding scream. The boy then knew for sure that Santa was real.
Another child confessed that she was not sure whether Santa was real. But she added that she would never tell anyone about her doubts. She explained that as soon as her older sister announced that she no longer believed in Santa, she stopped getting toys and started getting clothes. It looked like Santa had turned on her sister, and that was not going to happen to her!
Some people, I’m sure, think that God has turned on them -- or might. Maybe you have felt that way at times. Maybe you are feeling that way right now. I’m here to tell you that He hasn’t.
In fact, what Christmas is all about -- really -- is that God hasn’t turned on us; He has turned to us. The baby whose birth we celebrate this night was and is God moving in our direction. And so intentional was God about this that He revealed His plan to Isaiah the prophet some eight centuries before it took place. In Isaiah 7:14 we read, “...The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
And when in time this came about, the Gospel records that “all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet,” and then the prophecy is quoted: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ -- which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).
That’s the meaning of Christmas -- not God against us but God with us. He doesn’t turn on us. He turns to us. You know John 3:16. It may very well be the first Bible verse you ever learned by heart: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You know that verse. Do you know the one that follows it? Do you know John 3:17? It says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Some years ago, the news service carried a story about a dramatic rescue. A California Highway Patrol officer received a call. It seems a woman was about to jump off a bridge. Immediately the officer, a woman herself, was confronted with a dilemma. This police officer had an extreme fear of heights, and the would-be jumper was perched on the railing of a bridge 443 feet above the floor of a deep gorge. So, you can appreciate the officer’s situation.
The officer forced herself, however, to walk calmly toward the woman and sit down beside her. There, high above that gorge, they talked for two hours while the officer struggled with her own panic. Finally, the jumper agreed to come away from the railing and get help.