DO NOT BE AFRAID
There are so many times this one phrase is said in the Christmas accounts in the gospels:
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Matthew 1:20
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.” Luke 1:13
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30
But the angel said to them (the shepherds), “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Luke 2:10
Suffice it to say, the people involved in the narratives must have been afraid. Each one was visited by an angel and the first thing said was not to fear. I imagine that fear would be the first emotion that many of us would feel when visited by an angel. Not an every day occurrence for sure, hence the fear.
In each of the conversations the news was good. Different, albeit, but ultimately good. With Joseph, he was troubled about receiving the news that his soon-to-be wife was expecting. The angel visited him in a dream and told him not to be afraid, this was God’s doing.
With Zechariah, he was in the Temple, serving God. It was his turn to be doing this service, and it was a coveted time for all the priests
to have this time. He was at the altar of incense when the angel arrived. Imagine his surprise to have an audience in the Temple. And what an audience! No wonder he was surprised. And the news? Very welcome indeed. He and his wife had been childless for years and now, God had deemed that these two devout Jews would be parents.
Mary was going about her usual day. Having no clue what was to come her way. A young woman, pledged to be married. She did not express fear, but the angel did reassure her of God’s favor upon her. And what incredible news awaited her. Wow. And she did not see it coming. In fact, NONE of the people in the narratives do.
The shepherds, as I mentioned in my last POST were getting ready to hunker down for the night after a campfire-cooked meal. The night sky filled up with God’s glory! Imagine! Wow. I am not sure if I were not to be terrified! Probably I would have that emotion, but WONDER, AMAZEMENT, SHOCK AND AWE, would have been right up there.
Yes, each one of these people were not expecting these unexpected visits from an angel of the Lord, yet, each one did embrace the visit. And each one walked away with a piece of a grander story – that of LOVE come down at Christmas. A poem by Christina Rosetti says it so beautifully.
Have you ever seen more potential in someone than he sees in himself? I think it is the same thing here. God sees how we will respond and how we will walk in faith EVEN THOUGH we are initially afraid. Or are initially unsure of the outcome, but we soldier on. God knows that we will respond and not react. In the case of Zechariah, he reacted and it left him mute. A quick lesson for us to listen first and speak second. Nonetheless, God used him and his family line to be the forerunner of Christ Jesus. We should not shortcut ourselves – God doesn’t.
They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them. Psalm 112:7
Exactly. The people in the birth narratives of Jesus did not fear bad news – at least to our ability to see. They were WAITING for the promised Messiah to come, yes. But bad news? No, life was going on at a rapid pace and they were doing what they knew to do. The next thing. They had such a confidence that the LORD would take care of them.
To explain further - fear and waiting are two completely different emotions. Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength....fly on eagle's wings, run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31) Nothing smacks of fear in the waiting of confident expectation
Nothing. Waiting is a given in this life. Choosing to fear is optional - may we opt out.
That is why it is so good to REMEMBER what God has done in the past – so we don’t operate in fear now. He has been faithful, and He is faithful now and will be faithful then. Hebrews 13:5
If an angel were to show up in the night sky, what would be your response? Or if he showed up when you were folding laundry or raking leaves? Would you willingly say:
I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me be true. (Luke 1:18)
I just completed a short Bible Study on Luke 2:8-20 and it is my gift to you this Christmas season. This STUDY was a blessing to me from God, and I pass it along.