Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! (Lk. 2:8-9 NLT)
There is a certain element of fear involved at the birth of a child. At some point during the pregnancy questions enter a woman’s mind such as: Will I have a healthy baby? Will he or she be a normal child? Will the delivery be long or short? Will I carry this child for the full term?
Our first boy came right on schedule. He was born on the exact day and time that the doctor had predicted and was a healthy well developed baby weighing in at 7 lb. 11 oz. I remember the joy and relief we felt at his birth. The same could not be said for our other five children. Our second child, a boy, was born four months premature and lived for only about 12 hours in an incubator. Since he lived for a short period of time we had to give him a name (Donald) and arrange for his burial which the U.S. Navy took care of. We don’t know where he was buried, nor have we ever seen his grave, but we are assured from God’s word that we will see him when we get to heaven. (2 Sam. 12:23) Three of the four remaining children were born prematurely and weighed in at a little over 5 pounds.. All of these premature births caused anxiety and fear even though we were trusting in the Lord for their safety.
I wonder if the same kind of questions entered Mary’s mind as she carried the Messiah in her womb. The Bible tells us that she was “confused and disturbed” when the angel Gabriel first appeared to her and her first question was, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” (Lk. 1:29 and 34) I am sure other fearful questions entered her mind: What will Joseph think when he finds out? What will he do? Will he get rid of me? Will I become an outcast? Will I be accused of adultery and be stoned to death?
Mary did the same thing that Elaine and I did during the birth of our children. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” (Lk. 1:38a NLT)
The next occasion for fear came out on a darkened hillside. Shepherds were standing night watch over a flock of sheep. Suddenly, an angel stood in their midst and the sky lit up in a blaze of the Lord’s glory. They were overtaken with fear. How would you feel if you were sitting around a fire with your cloak wrapped around you because of the cold night air, and an angel popped up beside you? Wow! That’s reason enough to be scared to death.
The angel told them the good news that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. After the shepherds’ fear subsided, they said to one another, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Lk. 2:15 NLT)
They raced into the village and found Mary and Joseph residing in a stable with the Messiah Jesus lying in a manger. How excited they must have been as they gazed down upon the Savior of the world. Their terrible fear that they had experienced out by the fireside had now turned to reverential fear as they stood in awe at the scene before them. I have no doubt that this was a life changing moment for the lowly shepherds also. Their lives would never be the same again. They left and hurried to tell everyone the good news.
As you and I revisit once again the birth of our Savior, let us show our reverential fear by sharing with our friends and neighbors the Good News that salvation has come.