Don’t Be Afraid


So, the correct picture to get is that, yes, Jesus was born in a cave.  For a humanity, as Plato had observed, that was imprisoned in a dark cave watching shadows on the wall, God with us, Emmanuel, comes into the cave.  He’s born in a cave!!  And this child born in a cave is the one who will free us from our chains and lead us out of the cave and into the light!!


East of town, in the rugged hills around Bethlehem, were shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night.   Shepherds would have been pretty low on the socio-economic ladder.  But, of course, we remember the great King David had come from among those shepherds, so you never know what great things might happen among shepherds around Bethlehem.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”


An angel suddenly (you cant anticipate this) appears to these shepherds.  The first thing the angel says upon appearing to these shepherds is what angels always say, Fear not.  The angels say this because this is what heaven has to say to earth.  Don’t be afraid.   This is what heaven has to say to humanity, Don’t be afraid.   This is what heaven has to say to you today, as we come out of Christmas and into a New Year, I’ve got a New Years prophecy for you.  Thus saith the Lord – Don’t be afraid.   That is what heaven has to say to earth, Don’t be afraid.

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The angel continues –  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  The moment the angel says For unto you is born this day, that should recall for us the words of the prophet Isaiah.  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:6-7‬.  


So the angel says Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.   A Messiah, a savior, a saving King, who is Christ the Lord…The angel also says And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.   There will be a sign.  You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths.   Nothing significant here, there could be lots of babies around Bethlehem.  Swaddling clothes is how you wrap a baby, that could be any baby.  The sign is lying in a manger.  This is the sign.  We don’t really use the word manger, it is just a stone feeding trough.  The sign would be finding a baby lying in a feeding trough, because you just don’t see that every day.


So as the shepherds go out to look for this baby whose been announced to them by the angel, this baby who is born to be the savior-king, they are not looking in the houses and inns of Bethlehem, they are looking in the caves where the livestock are kept.  Suddenly, there is a whole choir of angels singing   “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭KJVA‬‬. The Good News of great joy is that the worlds true king has been born into our cave, where we sit in chains, watching shadows on the wall.  This savior king is going to free us from our chains and lead us out of the dark.   Do we believe that?


What we think oftentimes is that reality is nothing more than shadows on the wall.  What we thought is that life is actually imprisonment in a dark cave.  It’s not enough for God to stand outside the cave and shout in “Hey, free yourself  and come out of the cave!”  That’s not enough.  Just as we in recovery need someone to come meet us in our mess to lead us out of the mess, so someone has to come down from above, into the cave where we sit chained in darkness watching shadows on the wall, loose us from our chains and lead us out.  That someone is Emmanuel, God Himself coming down into the cave with us.  That is this baby born in Bethlehem.  That’s what Christmas is about, Jesus is the savior king who leads us out of the dark.


Christmas is the time of year when Christians are called to repeat this sounding Joy, to tell this story all over again.  That this savior king born in the cave is the one to lead us out of the cave of fear.  That cave is mostly just fear that swallows us up on every side.  It swallows us up on every side, and we can not find our way out.  We are swallowed by fear, we are chained to fear, and the shadows that we watch on the wall, though not true, are mostly terrifying.


So an angel comes to us and says Fear not, don’t be afraid.  This really is what heaven has to say to earth.  Why do angels always say Fear not?  Because they are messengers from heaven.  They says what heaven has to say to earth.  This is what heaven has to say to earth.


Don’t be afraid.


“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” Luke‬ ‭2:1-14 ESV. 




John Lewis
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