This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passages: Mathew 1:18-2:15, Luke 1:1-2:20
Why do holy angels keep showing up in the Christmas story? They show up to announce Jesus’ birth. The first words out of the angel’s mouth to the frightened people are “Fear not!” I think that if God sent an angel to tell me something, I would need to hear the words “Fear not” too!
God’s angel showed up to Zacharaias. The elderly priest had spent his career longing for the opportunity to enter the temple’s Holy Place and burn incense before the Lord. It was the greatest day of Zacharaias’ entire career serving as a priest. Perhaps it was even a once in a lifetime opportunity! That day, God’s angel announced that the shame of Zacharaias and Elizabeth’s childless marriage would be reversed with a miracle child in their old age. Zacharaias heard the voice of heaven’s angel: “Fear not!”
God’s angel showed up to Mary. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a pre-marital Jewish form of engagement that could only be broken by divorce. The words were terrifying. The angel told Mary that she, a virgin, would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit before her wedding had occurred to Joseph! She would then give birth to the Savior of the World–Messiah–Jesus! Jubilant joy mingled with abject fear. Then Mary heard the voice of God’s angel: “Fear not!”
God’s angel showed up to Joseph. Mary had already told him of her angelic visitation and shared the news that sent shockwaves of fear and anxiety through this honorable man. Throughout their betrothal, Joseph had protected Mary from any rumors, scandals, or innuendos against her character. Now this! Mary was pregnant! The baby was not his! Mary said something about the Holy Spirit impregnating her with the Messiah! How can this be? Joseph needed an angelic visitation to convince him of the truth of Mary’s story! Then Joseph heard the voice of God’s angel: “Fear not!”
God’s angels showed up to the shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem. The shepherds could never approach God’ temple–except by the sheep gate to make a delivery of sacrificial lambs–because their lifestyle prohibited them from observing the Law’s requirements of ceremonial cleanness. Shepherds were the most common and despised of the common people. But they were the ones God chose to receive the angelic proclamation of the birth of Messiah. The keepers of the temple lambs were the first to hear of the birth of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. The shepherds heard the voice of the angel: “Fear not!”
Fear not! I pray that God speaks these words afresh to you this Christmas season.