The Aesop Fable about the lad who cried wolf much to the chagrin of the townsmen is probably the most popular of all Aesop fables. The young man whose job was to tend the sheep had been told to sound an alarm when the wolves did appear so that help would come his way in driving them away and thus keep the sheep safe: simple instruction, simple job.
For whatever reason that suited his fancy, the young man derived some sarcastic pleasure from crying “wolf, wolf” when in fact there was no imminent danger. This joke was done one too many times that his cries of “wolf, wolf” were taken with ever-increasing lightness until when unfortunate day when the wolves finally came-by which time no one took his cries seriously. As the story goes, the sheep were devoured by the wolves much to the ire of the townspeople. There are some lessons we can glean from this fable.
First, the danger of the wolves was a certainty. Whether from previous experience or knowledge of the terrain, the townspeople knew that wolves were a risk. Somehow they realized the inability of the boy to ward off the wolves alone and thus pledged their support.
Secondly, the boy’s trifling with the danger did not diminish the reality of it and rather drifted attention away from it. When the danger came to light, it had been so trifled that people just couldn’t and wouldn’t take it serious any longer.
Matthew writes: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:42)
Whether it is the Mayan controversy of Dec 21, 2012 or the May 25 one or any other prediction, a smaller group of people are “crying wolf” about Christ’s return-a phenomenon which is dulling our senses and numbing us to the reality: Christ will return. You see, the Aesop fable corroborates one vital point:
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”(Matthew 24:36)
That the wolves would come was a certainty. The only thing was that no one knew exactly when. That Christ would come is in a similar vein a certainty but the “when” is the problem. It is just refreshing to know that Jesus has categorically said that no one knows. Should we thus turn a deaf ear to all those who purport to know? Possibly no!
First, we should not be side-tracked by their cries of wolf. In fact they only confirm the fact that no man (nor angel knows). We should rather be reminded that though every false alarm attempts to diminish the reality of the danger or the potency of the message, it only underscores that the danger is imminent. I believe the Christmas story lends credence to this claim.
Writes Isaiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
The Christmas story is essentially about this child that is yet to be born; one whose birth and future exploits are foretold hundred of years of years prior. In a sense, the whole of the Old Testament, particularly the prophets, is a testimony to Christ’s soon-coming birth. The question is how soon is this soon? One could say that the prophets were “crying wolf” and yet what they were “making noise” about didn’t happen, at least not in their life times.
My mind is doubtless drawn to Genesis 6-7; the account in which Noah was charged by God to build an ark because of the impending flood. We have an indication that the people had not seen rain before. It was ludicrous to hear this “mad man” rant on and on about rain and impending danger. In a shorter time span, what he foretold and warned about came to pass in vivid colour and the warnings were justified.
And so this is how Christmas corroborates Christ’s return: the story was told several centuries before the birth of Christ. Over many generations there was doubtless a disbelief in this truth of virgin birth. And yet, time vindicated the prophecy and the virgin was with child and the Saviour was born. Hallelujah!!
By extension, Jesus has Himself spoken about His second return (Acts 1). Many New Testament “prophets” have also attested to the second return of Christ in a manner akin to that of the Old Testament prophets. Once again, words have been spoken and centuries, even millenia have passed and we are inclined to disbelief the claim. If however the Christmas story came into being, we can by extension trust that He whose birth was spoken of will certainly return as it is has been proclaimed (“in like manner.”)
We unfortunately cannot prevent people from crying wolf. We can however be poised to keep our minds renewed and constantly reminded of the fact that His return is sure. Leave the prophets and speculators to their work but remember no man knows.
As we celebrate Christ’s birth this season and beyond, let us remember that it is the sign that He whose birth was foretold will return. Celebrate the season in the knowledge that He will come again. Hear Luke:
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”- Acts 1:11
Songwriter Elder Mmireku asks “Wo gyina bia w)he” (Where do you stand?) You can trample this underfoot or dismiss it as religious garble or you can embrace the reality and continue to live knowing that the event will happen, perhaps in your life time or not; that choice is yours but it does not change the truth: Christ will return.
May the yearly celebration of Christmas remind us that it is not only His birth that has been foretold but His return and may we be strengthened to renew our commitment to be ready knowing that we know not the day, the hour or the time. Selah
Joyeux Noel!! Merry Christmas!! Afrenhyia pa o!