The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Langworthy, preaching
December 24, 2022
What happened at Christmas is both marvelous, and mind-boggling, both glorious and confounding to those of us who like to figure things out.
The Bible teaches that this happened at Christmas: the immortal God became a mortal human being as susceptible to death as any person, in fact a person who’d 33 years later be killed; and that same God who is also unlimited in power became a helpless baby who couldn’t have survived had not Mary and Joseph fed him and wrapped him in warm bands of cloth.
Though I believe all this with all my soul, I can’t wrap my mind around its reality. But why should I be surprised? There’s so much about God I can’t wrap my mind around, from His infinitude to His being Three and yet just One. But why should my inability to make full sense of God keep me from trusting Him? For, from ordinary life, I’m already well-practiced in trusting what I don’t understand. I take medicines doctors prescribe though how they work is a mystery to me. I rely on computers to do my most important work though what’s going on inside of them is a mystery to me. I open my heart to certain people and depend on them though each of them is in some way a mystery to me.
So I don’t have to understand everything about the God-Man born at Christmas to follow Him; for I do understand Him well enough to know I can’t live without Him and would never want to.
Let me lift up three things I understand about Jesus: 1) He gets us, 2) He got beside us and 3) He’s got us forever if we trust Him.
First, Jesus gets us. Along with our good qualities and potential, He knows our character defects, self-defeating habits, weakness, confusion, guilt, shame and fears.
That’s why He came to us in the form of a baby. For babies don’t scare us away (at least not until they start crying!) That’s also why, even after He became an adult, He never showed His full glory and strength, lest they frighten us. He acted like a tall person who, trying to strike up a conversation with a preschooler, speaks softly and kneels down to the ground to get eyeball to eyeball with the child. In Jesus, God got eyeball to eyeball with us, so that His kindness and goodness might come into our view. And, even as He revealed Himself, He restrained His self-revelation until we could handle more. If He had blazed before us in all His splendor and might, the light would’ve been more than our eyes could bear and would’ve blinded us; and the fire of His awesome holiness and majesty would’ve incinerated us.
It’s because Jesus gets us that He presented Himself in a gentle, humble human form.
Jesus gets us. Second, He got beside us. He crossed the immeasurable chasm between heaven and earth, and moved into our neighborhood. He made a home in our benighted world and shared our trouble, pain and deprivation. He met us where we live that He might lift us up and out of the darkness and raise us up into the bright, warm sunshine of His grace.
Jesus gets us. Jesus got beside us. Finally, if we trust Him, He’s got us to save our lives. He’s got us! That’s why He said no one can snatch us out of His hand, and swore He’d never leave us nor forsake us, but would be with us to the end of the age.
Seven years ago this month, a Christian named Shannon Johnson saved the life of Denise Peraza. The two of them were seated next to each at a training event and Christmas lunch put on by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.
Suddenly, two armed terrorists wearing black face masks burst into the room and started shooting all over the place, killing 14 people by the time they were finished. Everyone dove for cover, and Shannon and Denise ended up huddled under the same table, with a fallen chair shielding them a bit against the 70 rounds of bullets flying everywhere. Shannon then reached over with his left arm and hugged Denise close to protect her with his own body. As the rampage continued, Shannon kept telling Denise, “I got you! I got you!”
During the course of the attack, Denise took a non-fatal shot in the back; but Shannon caught a bullet that eventually killed him. But, with his last dying breath, he told her one more time, “I got you!”
The God-Man of Christmas gets us, gets beside us, and tells those who accept His embrace, “I got you! I got you!” He’s there for us in the worst of times. “I got you!” He’s there for us in the best of times. “I got you!” He there for us all the time, and won’t vanish like the Christmas decorations soon will. He will never stop assuring us, “I got you!”
Jesus is a glory, confounding our minds but consoling our hearts. Let us keep close to Him who hugs us close to save us and to remind us, “I got you!”