John 3:16-17 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Paul Harvey was a well known radio personality, He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt (1918-2009), and that man had a way with words. I remember tuning in to listen to “The Rest of the Story” back in the 1980s. At that time I was working at the Movie Star factory prior to going to college. Paul Harvey’s boisterous voice rang out on the radio shortly after the lunch buzzer rang. He would tell a story and end the broadcast with “and now you know the rest of the story.” It was good, clean radio, and anyone listening could tell that this was a good, godly man. The story I am sharing today is a bit long, but it is a good one. This is a parable shared by Paul Harvey every year for many years. After a little research, I found that the parable was written by Louis Cassels (1922-1974) from South Carolina. You many have heard it, but it is worth a repeat.
The man I’m going to tell you about was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe in all of that incarnation stuff that the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to Earth as a man.
He told his wife I’m truly sorry to distress you, but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve. He said he would feel like a hypocrite and that he would much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then he went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.
Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another … and then another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against the living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled outside miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. That is what had been making the sound.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures just lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter. All he would have to do is to direct the birds into the shelter.
Quickly, he put on a coat and galoshes and he tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light so the birds would know the way in. But the birds did not come in.
So, he figured that food would entice them. He hurried back to the house and fetched some bread crumbs. He sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail of bread crumbs to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs.
The birds continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them but could not. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction … every direction except into the warm lighted barn.
And that’s when he realized they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Any move he made tended to frighten them and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
He thought to himself, if only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm … to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see … and hear … and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.
“Now I understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why you had to do it.
The story ended there, but that wasn’t the rest of the story. That man finally understood. He finally understood the true meaning of the Christmas story. He finally understood that Jesus came to earth to mingle with His people and to speak their language. He finally understood that Jesus came to show us the way…the way to be safe in the shelter of the Most High. He finally understood that we are in the dark and lost without Christ! The idea that God became man and walked among us is one of the most profound claims of Christianity. God didn’t have to send Jesus to be born those many years ago, but He wanted us to know Him. Without Christ, we are like those poor, cold, scared birds. Oh but God! God sent His Son into the world as a man – to demonstrate his love for people, to show his intimate understanding of human life and to personally deliver the message of salvation. Because of this remarkable act, we no longer have to be cold or scared or in the dark. The Light came to us! ….and now…you know…the rest of the story!