From Fear to Joy

It’s the time of year for Christmas movies and my absolute favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I still get chills during the speech that Linus gives when Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what the true meaning of Christmas is. Linus responds by quoting from Luke 2 and telling Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about.”

I’ve always loved reading Luke 2 during the advent season, and meditating on the amazing happenings of that wondrous night. As I’ve read the passage this week, I’ve been struck by two emotions—great fear and great joy:

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11

 

When the angels appeared in the sky, the shepherds were filled with great fear. It seems obvious at first why they would be afraid—they are witnessing a supernatural, mind-blowing event. Heaven has been ripped open and they’re glimpsing something beyond their wildest imaginations. But even more than that, they are being confronted with holiness, with a reminder of their sin and how far short of God’s standard they fall. They’re looking heavenly beings in the eye and seeing firsthand that they don’t meet the standard. They should be afraid, and so would we!

Then the angel turns the tables and tells them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy” (v10). In their moment of greatest fear, they are being given the greatest joy. What is that joy? Good news that will be for all the people—a Savior has been born! In that moment when the shepherds are face-to-face with their inadequacy, the angel gives them the good news that they don’t have to be adequate because the Savior has been born, the One who will meet the standard for us.

This Christmas, don’t be afraid. Soak in that joyful truth: you don’t have to be good enough—in fact, you can’t be good enough—because the Savior has been born, and He will meet God’s perfect standard on our behalf. Then we, like the shepherds, can glorify and praise God for all we have heard and seen (v20).

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About Tobi Henschel

Tobi and her husband, Paul, met at Moody Bible Institute and have been serving in churches together since then. Along with their three amazing boys, they currently serve at a church in the middle of Illinois farmland where Paul is the senior pastor. Tobi has a passion for teaching the Word of God, especially to children, and helps with both the children's and women's ministries of her church. She loves reading, DIY projects, coffee, ice cream, and spontaneous dance parties with her boys.