THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS #3

'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people ... and on earth peace to men ... '

There was every reason for the shepherds to be afraid. Surrounded by the awesome glory of the Lord, they were wise to feel threatened. They knew that no human being, sinful as we all are, can survive in the presence of God. No one can see God and live.

Had not Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and others in the past been overcome with fear and dread when God revealed his glory to them? Had they not feared condemnation and destruction? Had not sheer terror overwhelmed them, men of God though they were?

But the angel says 'Fear not!'

How can this be? How can a sinner stand without fear in the presence of the almighty and holy God, the Judge of all the earth?

The trembling shepherds hear the words 'I bring you good news of great joy ... '. Joy in the presence of God, not fear? Joy, not condemnation?

And then the skies are filled with exultant praise: ' ... on earth peace to men ..' Peace in the presence of God, not dread? Peace, not guilt and judgment? Peace, not alienation and enmity?

This is the meaning that God has embedded into Christmas:

  • That we, sinners though we are, can live in the presence of God without fear - every moment.
  • That we, sinners though we are, can live with complete joy in the presence of God - every moment.
  • That we, sinners though we are, can be at peace with God - every moment.

All because of this Christmas Child.

Like any gift, this gift has to be accepted. This gift of freedom from the fear of God's judgment, of joy and peace in his presence, is offered by God to you.

[Scriptures: Luke 2:8-14; Exodus 19:10-24; 24:1,2,9-18; 33:18-23; 34:1-7; Isaiah 6:1-7; Ezekiel 1:26-28; 1 John 4:17-18; Romans 5:11; 1 Peter 1:8; Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:19-22.]

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2002