“Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:9 HCSB).
Translators handle that last word in various ways:
I like that last one the best because it’s both archaic and descriptive. Though we never use the phrase “sore afraid” nowadays, somehow we know exactly what it means.
It’s the natural reaction when God suddenly enters our world. One moment you and the other shepherds are chatting out in the fields while the sheep sleep peacefully. It’s a beautiful night in Judea, the sky is filled with stars, and you are glad to be a shepherd.
Suddenly an angel shows up and scares you to death. If an angel of the Lord stood before me in the middle of the night, I would be “sore afraid” too.
This seems to happen whenever an angel shows up for the first time:
The angel said to Mary, “Fear not” (Luke 1:30).
The angel said to Joseph, “Fear not” (Matthew 1:20).
The angel said to the shepherds, “Fear not” (Luke 2:10).
Sometimes we need a “divine disruption” so that God can speak clearly to us. When Christ came to this sad world, God sent the angels to say, “Pay attention. Something big is happening here!”
If our greatest need had been education, God would have sent a teacher.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent a banker.
If our greatest need had been advice, God would have sent a counselor.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer.
Are you overcome with worry? Weighed down with fear? Are you “sore afraid” about your future? God’s answer to your fear is not a theory or a doctrine. God’s answer is not a seminar or a book to read.
God’s answer is wrapped up in a baby named Jesus. And not just any Jesus, but only the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the New Testament. He alone is the Lord from heaven. He alone can save us. All that God has for you and me is wrapped up in his Son. No matter what difficulties we face or the decisions we must make, in the end God leads us back to that simple one-word answer: “Jesus.”
In an interview with David Frost on PBS, Billy Graham said he hoped the last word he uttered before dying was simply this: “Jesus.” We can’t do any better than that.
Heavenly Father, may faith rise to banish our fear because if God be for us, and if God be with us, who can be against us? Amen.