Several years ago, my family and I were at a family reunion at a lakeside resort in central Texas. Included in the resort were all kinds of activities. One was canoeing. The six of us (my wife, four kids, and me) decided to give it a try – three in one canoe, three in another with my wife and I serving as “captains” of our respective boats. We were a little nervous. The kids were young and neither of us were canoeing experts, but the attendant assured us that this type of canoe was nearly impossible to tip over. Well, you can guess what happened.
The canoe my wife was in tipped over. The water was only waist deep and I sensed no imminent danger, so I yelled out to my drenched wife and kids, “Swim for the shore.” Maybe I should have jumped in (there was no maybe about it in my wife’s mind). But I thought there was no sense me getting all wet as well. Needless to say, it was not one of my proudest moments.
While I was shouting helpful advice I spotted out of the corner of my eye that the attendant had taken notice. He ripped off his shirt, threw off his shoes and dove into the lake, and before you knew it he was there to help my family get safely back to shore.
I shouted advice. The attendant jumped in.
A truth that separates Christianity from every other world religion is that very fact. Other religions have their teachers and prophets shouting advice but only Christianity has God jumping into the lake to save us.
And that is what Christmas is really all about. God jumped in to save us.
The Gospel of John makes the claim that God become flesh in the person of Jesus. Matthew’s Gospel refers to Jesus as Immanuel - God with us. The distinct declaration of Christianity is that God became one of us to rescue us.
No good advice could help us.
No encouragement could get us to shore.
No effort on our part could save us.
Our only hope was that God, in His mercy and grace, would appear in flesh and blood and carry us safely to shore.
Christmas is the celebration that He did just that. Far away and long-ago God became man in a humble manger in the humble town of Bethlehem. He jumped into our messy world. And we are saved.