“And the angel said unto them, Fear not.” Luke ii. 10.
No sooner did the angel of the Lord appear to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shine round about them, than they were sore afraid. It had come to this, that man was afraid of his God, and when God sent down his loving messengers with tidings of great joy, men were filled with as much fright as though the angel of death had appeared with uplifted sword. The silence of night and its dreary gloom caused no fear in the shepherds’ hearts, but the joyful herald of the skies, robed in mildest glories of grace, made them sore afraid. We must not condemn the shepherds on this account as though they were peculiarly timid or ignorant, for they were only acting as every other person in that age would have done under the same circumstances. Not because they were simple shepherds were they amazed with fear, but it is probable that if they had been well-instructed prophets they would have displayed the same feeling; for there are many instances recorded in Scripture, in which the foremost men of their time trembled and felt a horror of great darkness when special manifestations of God were vouchsafed to them. In fact a slavish fear of God was so common, that a tradition had grown out of it, which was all but universally received as nothing less than truth. It was generally believed that every supernatural manifestation was to be regarded as a token of speedy death.
THE CURE FOR THIS FEAR, which the angel came to proclaim. It lies in this: — “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
According to the text they were not to fear, first of all, because the angel had come to bring them good news. How does it run? It says, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” But what was this gospel? Further on we are told that the gospel was the fact that Christ was born. So, then, it is good news to men that Christ is born, that God has come down and taken manhood into union with himself. Verily this is glad tidings. He who made the heavens slumbers in a manger.
How wonderful that he should have been an infant, and yet should be God over all, blessed for ever! I am not afraid of God now; this blessed link between me and God, the holy child Jesus, has taken all fear away.
Observe, the angel told them somewhat of his office, as well as of his birth. “Unto you is born this day a Saviour.” The very object for which he was born and came into this world was that he might deliver us from sin. What, then, was it that made us afraid? Were we not afraid of God because we felt that we were lost through sin? Well then, here is joy upon joy. Here is not only the Lord come among us as a man, but made man in order to save man from that which separated him from God. I feel as if I could burst out into a weeping for some here who have been spending their living riotously and gone far away from God their Father by their evil ways. I know they are afraid to come back. They think that the Lord will not receive them, that there is no mercy for such sinners as they have been. Oh, but think of it — Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which was lost. He was born to save.
Note that the angel did not forget to describe the person of this Saviour — “A Saviour which is Christ.” There is his manhood. As man he was anointed. “The Lord.” There is his
Godhead. Yes, this is the solid truths upon which we plant our foot. Jesus of Nazareth is God; he who was conceived in the womb of the virgin and born in Bethlehem’s manger is now, and always was, God over all, blessed for ever. There is no gospel if he be not God. It is no news to me to tell me that a great prophet is born. There have been great prophets before; but the world has never been redeemed from evil by mere testimony to the truth, and never will be. Tell me that God is born, that God himself has espoused our nature, and taken it into union with himself, then the bells of my heart ring merry peals, for now may I come to God since God has come to me. You will observe, dear friends, however, that the pith of what the angel said lay in this. “Unto you.” You will never get true comfort from the incarnate Saviour till you perceive your personal interest in him.
Latest online preaching: Christ our Prophet and High Priest, preached on the Sabbath morning, 26th January 2014 by Rev. Aaron Lewis.