Those two words seem like an oddity, don’t they: fear and Christmas? Who would ever think of fear at Christmas? But, the first participants in the first the first Christmas story were fearful. They were not awe struck with blessings, merriment, happiness, or wonderment. Neither did they frolic with a fun-filled day. These people were afraid for their lives and it showed on their faces and in their words.
In Matthew 1:18 – 25 we encounter the first case of fear in the Bible story. Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant with child. That would bring about fear because he had to make a decision as to what to do – either divorce Mary, privately (she was considered his spouse in the Biblical sense of the word) or make Mary a public example. The angel of the Lord (Jehovah God of the Old Testament) appeared unto him in a dream and said: “Fear (emphasis mine) not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” Matthew 1:20b – 21. It would scare any of us if we had the angel of the Lord approach us with any kind of revelation. We would experience fear, too. Once Joseph knew God’s plan for the future of the child, he was obedient to the Lord and took Mary to him to be his wife, Matthew 1:24.
In Matthew 2:1 – 8 King Herod was fearful at the arrival of someone to be King of the Jews. We read in Matthew 2:3 that he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. He got his fear resolved when he got the chief priests and the scribes to tell him where Christ should be born. They told him in Bethlehem. But Herod didn’t submit to this knowledge. He did not plan to worship the child. Herod slew all the children that were in Bethlehem from two years old and under. He remained fearful.
In contrast to Herod, in Matthew 2:9 – 12 the wise men from the east were rejoicing with exceeding great joy – verse 10. They also worshipped the child with their gifts – verse 11. In verse 12 they manifested their fear when they were warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod. They departed another way.
Skipping over to Luke 1:26 – 38, we find Mary was afraid when the angel Gabriel approached her. She was troubled at his saying. The angel could see that Mary was afraid and so he said, “Fear not, Mary,” verse 30. Then the angel proceeded to tell her about God’s plan for the virgin born son. With the full knowledge that she had, she submitted by saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
In chapter two of Luke, we find shepherds watching their flocks by night. The angel of the Lord (Jehovah of the Old Testament) came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. Needless to say they were sore afraid. The angel had to assure them, “Fear not.” When the shepherds knew about the Savior being born they went to Bethlehem to see that which is come to pass.
What can we make of all this? What can we know about FEAR? Fear is the uncertainty about the future. It is only resolved by turning to the revealed word of the Lord. Once you know it, you must submit to it in obedience. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We don’t have to fear at any time of the year, especially at Christmas. We have God’s written revelation, the Bible. We have this promise of not having the spirit of fear. We do not have to be in the dark about what God is doing in this world. May we trust Him this Christmas season.