Why Did the Angels Say "Fear Not"?
by Rev. Kurt H. Asplundh
"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, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
On this day of the celebration of the Lord's birth, we remember the glad news the angel announced to Mary, and later, to the shepherds keeping watch over their sheep: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
We remember this glad news, but I would like you to remember something else that the angel said: "Fear not!"
Notice how many times this was said in the time of preparation for the birth of the Lord. When the angel of the Lord first appeared to Zacharias in the Temple he was troubled and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, "Fear not, Zacharias" (Luke 1:13).
When the angel appeared to Mary she was troubled at his saying. And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary" (Luke 1:30).
And, on the night of the Lord's birth, when the angel appeared to the shepherds, they were "sore afraid." And the angel said unto them: "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10).
It may seem a strange thing to speak of fear, and being afraid, at Christmas time. It is a time of great joy and gladness. But the fact is that we cannot feel joy and gladness while we are afraid.
Let us now think of things that make us fearful or afraid, and let us see how the Lord has taken away our fears by His coming.
First, there is fear of the unknown. We are afraid of what we do not know. So in ancient times people were afraid of God because they did not know what He was like. Even when angels came to visit people on earth, those people were afraid because they thought this meant they would be punished or die.
When the angel came to visit Zacharias, Zacharias was troubled and fearful. He did not know what would happen to him. But the angel said: "Fear not!"; and told him that he and his wife would have a son, a wonderful event that they had longed for. This child would help prepare the world for the Lord's birth.
So long as God was unknown to the human race, people feared Him. But the birth of the Lord brought the Lord close to us, where we could know Him, and not be afraid of Him. Therefore, one of the fears that the Lord's birth has removed is the fear of the unknown. He has shown us how wonderful He is.
When the prophet Isaiah spoke about the Lord who was to come he said His name would be called "Wonderful." And so it is, for He is wonderful and He has shown us the wonders of His love and wisdom.
A second fear we all feel is fear of being lost. Every child has had the experience of losing his parents, perhaps in a crowd of people.
That child then becomes afraid, not knowing where to turn, where to look, and how they can be safe again. There is a similar fear we feel as adults when we feel a separation from the Lord, when we feel that He has let go of our hand, and we are wandering by ourselves, not knowing where He wants us to go.
When the Lord came on earth, the spirits of hell had risen up like a great crowd to separate the Lord from us. But remember the angel's words: "Fear not!" For the Lord came on earth to be with us, and not be separated from us. He has come on earth to lead and guide us by His wisdom and truth. And so the prophet Isaiah said the Lord's name would be not only "Wonderful," but also "Counselor," or guide.
A third fear we may feel is the fear of evil. Some evil is easy to see. As children, we fear the pain and suffering caused by bullies. We may read of robbers, kidnappers, even killers. These evil things frighten us. But even more frightening are the evil things that evil spirits can do to us.
The Lord came on earth to remove our fear of evil, to protect us, and to give us strength against evil spirits. So the prophet Isaiah said that the Lord's name also would be "the Mighty God." For as a mighty God He protects us from evil.
A fourth fear is the fear of death. Most people fear to lose their life.
The Lord came to show that there is life in heaven after the death of the body. We need not fear death because the Lord showed by His resurrection that everyone lives after death in the other world. Therefore the prophet called the Lord's name: "the Everlasting Father" because He is our Father to eternity.
A fifth fear is the fear of going to hell. The Lord overcame this fear by His birth because He came on earth to save us from our sins, and bring us into the peace and happiness of heaven. For this reason the prophet called His name: "the Prince of peace."
At Christmas, as we think of the Lord's birth, we can think of all of the things He has done to take fear out of our lives. We should rejoice that the Lord has come to take away our fears.
So the angels said to the shepherds, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). And His name shall be called: "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:11).
-New Church Home 1979;44:66-67