Advent 2011

Advent 2011 November 28, 2011

Advent 2011

Four times, different individuals in the gospelsreceive a special announcement of the Savior’s birth. John the Baptist’sfather, Zechariah, was the first, followed by Mary, Joseph, and finally theshepherds of nativity-scene fame. All four of these received a special wordfrom God about Jesus’ coming, and this Advent season we are going to examineeach one of these announcements of the Savior’s birth in turn.

Interestingly, all four include a common theme. Ofcourse, all four mention the birth of Jesus, but there’s something more—aspecific directive from God that appears in each of the angelic messages. Takea look:

To Zechariah: The angel said to him, “Do not beafraid, Zechariah…” (Lk 1:13)

To Mary: The angel said to her, “Do not beafraid, Mary…” (Lk 1:30)  

To Joseph:  As he considered these things,behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph,son of David, do not fear…”  (Mt 1:20)

To the shepherds: The angel said to them, “Fearnot…”  (Lk 2:10)

Inall four greetings, God says, “Do not be afraid” or “Fear not.” Now you mightrespond, “Well, sure! All four greetings were delivered by angels. No wonderthese people were frightened!” But I don’t think that explains it. For onething, the Scriptures don’t indicate that either Mary or Joseph was frightenedby the angels. For another, if you look closely at the angel’s message whichfollows the “Fear not,” they don’t address a fear of angels. They don’t say,“Don’t be afraid; I’m only an angel.” Or “Fear not! I’m not here to hurt you.”Instead, in each case, they speak to a deeper and more abiding fear than that.They say “Fear not,” and then give reasons that go far beyond the momentaryfear of being in the presence of an angel.

In Zechariah’s case, the message is “Do not be afraid,for God answers prayer.” In Mary’s, it’s “Do not be afraid, for nothing isimpossible with God.” To Joseph, the message is “Do not be afraid, because Godworks in mysterious ways.” And to the shepherds, it is “Do not be afraid, for the Savior is born!” Each ofthese messages speaks to a deep-seated need in our heart and overcomes thefears that lurk there. So I hope you’ll join us for our 2011 Advent study: “DoNot Be Afraid!”