Years ago, I had the opportunity to work with some really big surface mining equipment. This wasn’t just heavy equipment like the vehicles on a construction site, but more like trucks the size of houses driving around. Safety is obviously a top priority in places like this, but one of the risks is in “getting used to” the size and power of these mighty machines. When they no longer remain a source of some healthy respect (if not a bit of fear), there’s a chance that safety protocols are no longer a priority with some, putting themselves and others in danger.
Continuing with yesterday’s study of the announcement of Jesus’ birth to shepherds by angels, here’s how the angel is introduced:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:9 NIV
As was observed during the Transfiguration of Jesus (see Luke 9:28-36, for example), experiencing the glory of God is generally a cause for sinful people to fear. Even for those who have been reconciled to God, and whose sins have been forgiven, a healthy respect for God’s glory is important. Being terrified of God is no longer necessary (in the sense of 1 John 4:17-18), but remembering His holiness, power, and glory is still important to keep us from forgetting to prioritize our relationship with Him.
However, God didn’t bring reconciliation between humankind and Himself through terror. He didn’t force us back to Himself by “scaring” us into doing so. Instead, Jesus (God the Son) came to earth as a baby, and – after He had grown up into an adult and ministered – He gave Himself as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.
As a result, the angel brought comfort through his words. More than that, the subject of the angel’s message – the Messiah – was the source of freedom from fear for all of us. (See 1 John 4:13-21)
Said another way, I suspect that experiencing the glory of God in Heaven will be amazing, but – as those who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ – His followers will no longer have to fear God’s punishment, since the baby announced to the shepherds grew up and took on all of that punishment on our behalf.
Luke 2:10 was discussed in the previous article (and isn’t repeated here, but you can click on the link to re-read that verse). However, after that verse, the message of the angel continues…
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:11 NIV
Who is this baby? (By the way, although the angel had given Mary the name “Jesus”, my understanding is that the naming process occurred at Jesus’ circumcision, when he was about 8 days old. See Luke 2:21.)
He is Savior, the One who rescues us. However, He didn’t come to rescue us from mere inconvenience, or even from temporary pain and suffering in this world. He came to save us from the worst problem that we had (being separated from God because of our sin) and in doing so, He led us into the eternal company of God Himself.
He is Messiah (or “Christ”, which means the same thing), the One who was promised by God. Jesus didn’t just come with a bunch of claims. He backed them up by fulfilling prophecies from centuries and millennia before. We can read in the Old Testament about who Jesus was going to be, even as we walk with Him today.
And, He is Lord, who we must follow and obey. The baby in the manger may not have been intimidating, but the King (Jesus) who will return someday has authority (see Matthew 28:18). A key difference between Jesus as our Lord, though, versus any human leader whose authority that we may live under, is that Jesus loves us completely and perfectly. His instructions are for our good, and for the good of all who will listen. (See Matthew 11:28-30.)
So, may we retain a righteous respect for the awesomeness of God, even as we remember that His provision for bringing us back to Himself (after we had sinned and separated ourselves from Him) is more than just a baby in a manger.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for December 19, 2021
- The Lookout, December 19, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.