“Now ye Need Not Fear the Grave, Jesus Christ was Born to Save”
Everyone seems to having something that they fear. For Indiana Jones, it’s snakes, for my wife, it’s spiders, for me it was an elephant-costumed person dancing around on a certain episode of “Barney and friends”, but that’s probably more than you needed to know about my childhood.
As human beings, fear seems to be inescapable. We live in a world of chaos and disorder that we can’t control. We fear pain, we fear death, we fear oppression, and a whole slew of other things. Many religions tell us that the solution to our fears is God, but if we are honest with ourselves… sometimes we fear him too.
It’s important for us to know that we aren’t unique in feeling that way sometimes. When the angels appear to the shepherds, the good old king James tells us they were “sore afraid”. Why? Was it the sudden appearing, the frightening profiles of the angelic figures? I imagine all of these things contributed, but perhaps most of all it was that “the glory of God shown around them”. In Judges 13:22, when Samson’s parents realized they had been in the presence of an angel, they thought for sure that they would die. Whenever human beings experience God’s glory, they realize they cannot exist in his presence. They realize it would be right of him to destroy them in their sin, and they seem to even be able to feel as though their very existence is at risk of being disintegrated (Isaiah 6:1-7)
But the angel’s (and Luke’s) surprising message is “fear not!” In Jesus’s birth, both our fears of pain and death and the world, and our fears of God’s consuming glory are simultaneously addressed. God has come, and thus all of our fears will be dealt with, and he has come as a child in human form. He has laid aside the fullness of his glory so that we might approach him, and rather than consume sinners, somehow he has come to be with them. There is nothing to fear here, and the greatest sign is the baby, Jesus Christ.
-Are you ever afraid of God? Do you ever do certain things as a way of bargaining with God so that he will bless you or at least not curse you? How does the Luke’s message of “fear not”, and the incarnation of Jesus as a baby challenge this way of thinking?