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Bible Reading / A Deeper Look into the Christmas Story

Day 2: The Fear Factor


Read: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:8-20

Additional verses:

  • Isaiah 41:10

  • 1 John 4:18

When the unexpected happens, often our first response is fear. “What should I do? How will I deal with this?”

God knows our fears, and he specifically addresses fear in the Bible more than 100 times with the repeated phrase, “Do not be afraid.” He knows fear sometimes prompts us to attack problems and create solutions of our own, instead of trusting and waiting on him to work things out and show us the way. In the Christmas story, the major characters experienced great fear. And in each case, God reached out to them with encouragement.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and announced she would give birth to a son who “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Mary’s initial reaction must have been fear, because the angel immediately said: “Do not be afraid.” This was decision time for Mary. Would she yield to her fears about this unexpected, divine pregnancy, or would she remember the Lord’s unfailing love and choose to trust?

Meanwhile, Joseph, a faithful man who loved the Lord, was experiencing fear of his own. Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant — and not by Joseph. Fear reared its ugly head as he considered quietly ending the relationship. The Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife...” Would Joseph succumb to fear, or make the choice to trust God’s love?

And the shepherds, watching their flocks on the night Jesus was born, weren’t just afraid. They were terrified. But the word of the Lord through one angel was declared, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy.” What would the shepherds do with their fear?

Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds grasped the opportunity to trust their fears to God and to lean into the One whose love overcomes fear. They trusted God for what they did not understand.

What causes your fear? We have a choice to make every day that those in the Christmas story did - choose the example of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds and lean into this promise of God: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)