Read Matthew 1:2
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The Parable of the Birds
This is a story about a man. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family and honest. He just could not understand the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man. It did not make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend he believed it.
It was Christmas Eve and the family was getting ready for church. “I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this evening.” He said that he would feel like a hypocrite. Rather, he would stay home while they went.
Shortly after the rest of his family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. It was one of those picture-postcard winter evenings. So he walked back to his comfortable fireside chair and began reading his newspaper.
Soon, though, he was startled by a loud “thud,” quickly followed by another. And then another. “What could that be?”
At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to investigate, he found a pitiful flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large picture window.
“I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. He was, after all, a reasonably compassionate man. “But how could I possibly help them?”
Then he remembered the barn out back. That would provide a warm shelter — if only he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light to show the poor birds the way.
But the birds didn’t come in.
“Food will bring them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house and fetched bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail from near where the birds were into the safety of the barn.
But the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. None of that worked. Instead they scattered in every direction — except into the protection of the warm, lighted barn.
He said to himself, “They find me a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. If only I could convince them… If only I could show them that I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how?” Any move he made tended to frighten the birds and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
In frustration and with a growing sense of urgency as the storm worsened, an odd thought came to him: “If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. If only I could speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand and not be afraid.”
At that moment, he heard the sound of the church bells. He stood there, suddenly awestruck. These were all Christmas carols he had heard since childhood: Joy to the World. Oh, Holy Night. Away in a Manger. But they had never before affected him in the way they now did.
Then, there in the snow, he sank to his knees, gazed heavenward and, choked with emotion, whispered, “God, now I understand. Now I see why You had to do it.”
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him… And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:9,14.)
- How would you have tried to get the birds in the barn?
- What did the man not believe in the beginning of this story?
- The man tries everything before realizing the only thing that would work is if he became a bird so he could communicate with them to tell them the good news of the barn. How does this illustrate what God did by sending Jesus?
- If you were God, how would you tell people about the good news of heaven?
- Who do you know could use this story as an illustration of what God did for us? You could email it to them or tell them yourself!
“God, Thank you so much for giving us the gift of your Son. What an incredible gift! Help me truly understand Your love for us and help me share it with others who don’t really know.”