How comforting are the words, “Don’t be afraid” to you? From most of the voices that shared that phrase, there was no difference. I remained afraid, and in fact, maybe more so. Yet, in the opening proclamations of the gospel in Matthew and Luke, we see this phrase to Zechariah, to Mary, to Joseph, and to shepherds at night. Both Zechariah and Joseph are met by the angel of the Lord. Mary is met by the angel Gabriel. The shepherds are met by the angel of the Lord, and then by a “host” (army) of angels. Why do we have so much angelic visitation with the explanation of the Incarnation (Jesus’ becoming flesh- John 1:14)? Why the need to assuage fear? Because the most glorious, awesome occurrence in history is happening. God is coming the world to dwell among us.
Why so much fear? Because… just a visit from an angel is an awesome and frightening thing. Angelic visits in the Old Testament were usually associated with judgment (see Genesis 19, Isaiah 37, 2 Samuel 24:10-17). But, in these early passages in the Gospels, we discover that God has something to offer to everyone who fears. To Zechariah, the angel explains that he will have son (John), and that joy and gladness will be followed by the rejoicing of many. His son will turn many back to the Lord!
Joseph is told by the angel to marry young Mary, because his Son is conceived by the Holy Spirit and will save the people from their sins. Joseph is told he will be steward of the most prophesied fulfillment of Messiah coming to earth.
Mary is told that she has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that Her Son, Jesus, will be the King that Scripture has anticipated, and He will rule forever. The impossible will be possible, and Mary has received “favor” (“charis”- meaning joy filling grace) from the Lord.
Finally, the shepherds are told good news of great joy. The angel announces that “this day” (signifying the dawn of a new era- things will never be the same again) “to you” has been born a Savior. The word there is used as a possessive, to express the importance that is a “to us” Savior. He is our Savior.
Fear can grip us, and get our attention quickly. However, through the revelation of the good news, we can read these passages and see that God has answers to our fears. He offers us a Savior for the fearful consequences of our sins. He offers us favor in His continual grace (“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:2). He also shares much of the “rest of the story” so that we can see the triumphs that are coming (“He will save the people from their sins.’’ “of His kingdom there will be no end.”).
Look, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you deal daily with the fear of sin finding you out. God has a solution. It’s why He said, “don’t be afraid.” He has your life covered by Jesus id you will only believe on His Son, the Savior.
We have a gospel that answers fear. We can be gripped by our sins. We can shudder in uncertainty. We can tremble in our weakness. But, God has powerful offerings for our fears. What are you fearing today? Have you sought an answer from God? Have you believed what God has already promised? Even better awaits us…
Prayer- “God, You delight in taking away fear and replacing it with joy and peace. Take my fears. I share them with you now. Release the grip of my flesh that doubts and can not see the end of my story. Grip me in your grace and fill me with faith. In Jesus Name, Amen.”