When the shepherds saw the angel, and when God’s glory shone around them, “they were terrified” (Luke 2:9). Literally it says that “they feared a great fear.” No kidding!
But then the angel tells them to not be afraid. After all, he’s about to give them good news, not bad: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (verse 10).
The announcement of Jesus’ birth brings “great” joy. That stands in direct contrast to their “great” fear. Not only does it bring joy, but those who receive God’s favour will experience “peace” (see verse 14).
Joy and peace.
One of the things this story teaches us is that joy and peace are not the absence of fear, but the presence of Christ.
Imagine a bully on the playground. He’s the biggest kid around—that is, until your big, muscular and protective older brother shows up! You feel better—not because the bully left, but because your brother arrived.
What will your new year hold? Have any of us ever been any less sure?
Bring Jesus into focus. Make him a priority. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you.
Joy and peace are not the absence of fear, but the presence of Christ.
—If you don’t have a church home you’re welcome to worship online with me at Westminster on Christmas Eve. The service will be on YouTube beginning at 6pm (and available all evening). As a part of that I’ll share a short message called “Do not be afraid” which is connected to the theme of today’s devotional. Click here to tune-in, and also to see a 36-second preview about what to expect.
–The Up Devotional is going on pause after Friday as I take a week’s vacation. It returns on January 3, 2022.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.