“…the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord'” (Luke 2:10-11, NIV).
What an awesome and terrifying sight it must have been for the shepherds, when suddenly the night sky was illuminated by all of Heaven’s glory! An angel stood before them, prefacing the announcement of Jesus’ birth with the words, “Do not be afraid.”
“Of course, we’re afraid,” I imagine the shepherds saying to one another. “We’ve never seen anything quite like this!” But, the angel meant not to alarm them, but to bring them the very best news – a Savior had been born for them!
I personally have never seen an angel, at least that I’m aware of, for they do sometimes come in disguise. To see an actual angel, even one bearing good news, would be quite memorable, and likely a bit scary.
I think a lot of people have the same fearful feelings concerning God. And who could blame them? We often view God as judgmental at best, and petty at worst. At other times, God seems distant, and some people prefer to keep him that way.
But, God came near in Jesus when he took on human flesh and lived among us. He didn’t come to earth to instill fear in our hearts, but to bring us peace. He came, not in judgment, but in mercy and grace. Perhaps this is why Jesus appeared to man in such a non-threatening way – a baby gift-wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, God’s gift to us all.