It is of great comfort to note that the Christmas messages are full of this command: “Do not be afraid.” We find the angel tell this to Joseph (Matthew 1:20), Zechariah (Luke 1:13), Mary (Luke 1:30) and the shepherds (Luke 2:10). Angelic visitations were rare and an occurrence of the same was good enough reason to be afraid. So the primary reason for fear was the sudden and unexpected appearance of angels.
But was that the only reason? Probably not. It could be that the message that the angels brought to them involved dramatic changes in their lives. Those changes were perplexing to them. Joseph was asked to take home as his wife a pregnant virgin. Zechariah was told that a mighty prophet was to be born to him through his barren wife in their old age. Mary was told that as a virgin she was going to conceive a child by the power of the Holy Spirit and that son would be the Son of God. The shepherds, who were considered social outcasts and never part of the mainstream of society, were given the good news of a Savior. And no wonder they wondered how come they were chosen to know that a Savior was born and spread the word about it.
To all of them, acceptance of the message given to them meant great change in their lives. And isn’t it lovely to think that God prefaced all these messages with the command: “Do not be afraid.”
Maybe the message for us today is the same. When we consider dramatic changes that can happen in our lives, it can cause fear to grip us. But the comfort is that if the changes in our lives are initiated by God, then there is no reason to be afraid. Then you will be enabled to accept the unacceptable (Joseph accepting Mary), you will be able to experience the impossible (Zechariah), you will be able to become a channel of bringing Jesus to others even while you wonder how it shall be (Mary), and you will be chosen to hear the good news and transmit it even though you do not have any social standing (the shepherds). Therefore do not be afraid.
The great truth behind the command, “Do not be afraid” is that we have an unchanging God. He declares: “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6a NIV). So we need to be assured that in the midst of our changes He remains unchanging. That means He will be faithful and true to what He promised to you through His word. We find Him fulfilling His messages to Joseph, Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds.
So, do not be afraid. God is there with you when changes are happening in your lives. He is still the same and His message is still the same: “Do not be afraid!”