13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. – Luke 1:13
30 Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:30
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:20
We live in a world plagued by fear. Fear is a commodity used like currency in our current social climate. Almost every political ad, consumer message, and newscast is saturated with fear, dread, and worry. In unprecedented numbers, children and teenagers are afflicted with anxiety.
History, as is often said, repeats itself. And 2,000 years ago, like now, fear of what would come next was on everyone’s mind. Israel experienced significant social unrest. Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and many others lived under the pressure of a tyrannical government, cultural darkness, financial pressure, and difficult living conditions.
Yet, when God sent word of the pending Incarnation to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph – each announcement was accompanied by the same encouragement: “Do not be afraid.”
Zechariah: He’s been chosen to go into the Holy of Holies, a solemn and weighty privilege that would only come once in a lifetime, if at all. He was shaken when he saw the angel of the Lord. In an instant, thoughts of terror must have raced through his mind. “What have I done?” he must have fretted. But the angel was there to tell him what his God had done. God had heard his prayer and was giving the aged Zechariah and Elizabeth the child they had longed for.
Mary: She was “troubled.” The word troubled in the original Greek text is diatarasso, meaning “confused or perplexed.” Of course she was. How could a virgin be with child? But the angel was there to proclaim that the impossible is possible with God.
Joesph: It’s hard not to be sympathetic to Joesph’s fear. He had learned his betrothed wife was pregnant but knew he wasn’t the father. The social ramifications for this were severe, especially for Mary. But Joseph didn’t need to be afraid. God was working His plan to introduce not only Joseph and Mary’s Savior, but the Savior for all people to the world.
“But…” – a grammatical conjunction used to signal a contrast is coming. Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph are afraid, but no longer need to be because God is at work. Each of the three was being given the same principle lesson: God is bringing about His purposes and can be completely trusted.
Two thousand years later, the message is the same for us. Do fear, dread and confusion run through your heart and mind? Do not be afraid. The faithful God of the ages is at work and will bring His purposes to fruition in you. Fear need not reign in your heart today because the Christ child was born as a King, a King who would triumph and rule over fear.
The season of Advent is a reminder that God came near to drive out fear. (1 John 4:18) When you face worry and fear, keep in mind that the antidote is the birth of Jesus Christ!
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11
Reflection: What are you fearful or anxious about? Take some time to reflect on the Scripture promises above and trust God with what you are facing today.