She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Humans know fear. We have felt fear for as far back as we can remember. The causes of fear may change, but the dread does not.
Fear always locks onto a threat. The greater the threat, the greater the fear. We can learn to overcome some fears. Yet, some threats remain untouched. Others grow. These are our greatest fears.
We may fear losing a friend, losing a job, or losing our life. It’s possible to fear losing all of these at the same time. A conjunction of fears can overwhelm us.
Confidence that we can overcome the threat can overcome the fear. So, we look for ways to gain an advantage. We reach out to friends and family, doctors and lawyers. We look for solutions and support. We want answers to our fears.
We look for help—strong help. It makes us feel better when we believe we have found it.
“Fear not!” is a phrase repeatedly spoken from the mouths of heavenly messengers. Abraham heard those words. So did Moses, Joshua, Joseph, Mary—and the Bethlehem shepherds.
Since the messages brought hope, we might wonder, “Why the fear?”
Fear is the natural reaction of the sinful creature to the Holy One. It can be denied by many. It can be disguised in many ways. But only the gospel can remove it.
At the root of the fear is the realization that God can hurt us. Not everyone knows the Bible verse “the wages of sin is death,” but everyone has a conscience. Conscience can be a terrifying voice. It warns of judgment.
No wonder sinners feel fear: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Where is the help for that threat?
We know. We sing, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” And it is.
Joseph of Nazareth had feared that his plan for a joyful wedding with Mary was crumbling into a heap of shame. She was pregnant. He feared he would need to divorce her. An angel appeared to dismiss that fear.
The angel pointed him back to God. The Lord of heaven and earth was sending his own Son to earth as the great Helper. The angel directed him to Mary’s son. He would be the God-man.
David had said he could walk without fear even in the shadow of death because, “Thou art with me.” If God is with us, we need fear nothing.
In one of our hymns, we sing the words, “Jesus, the name that calms our fears.” Christmas shows us why that can be.
The one that would be born in Bethlehem would carry the title, Immanuel: “God with us.”
He is the answer to every fear. The solution to every problem. He is the Destroyer of death.
“He will save his people from their sins.”
The ones saved from sins have nothing to fear.
This is the wonder of Christmas: “Jesus calms our fears.”
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay.
Close by me forever and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with you there. Amen.
(Christian Worship 68:3)
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.