Luke 1:28-30: “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.’
Many times throughout the Advent Season we hear the encouraging words “Do not be afraid.” In numerous scriptures beyond the Advent story we also see the hopeful words in one way or another. In other parts of scripture we are told to fear God. In Proverbs 1:7 it says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Taking all this into consideration, is God talking out of both sides of His mouth? I think not. To fear God is to have a loving reverence for God that includes submission to this Lordship and to the commands of His word. The Lord is our King and Savior and as we stand in awe of His presence we can rejoice at the same time.
A part of us knows that God’s awesome wrath lingers in the background. This makes us uneasy waiting for the Hammer of God’s Wrath to drop. The good news for believers this Advent Season is this: “The Hammer of God’s Wrath” has already dropped. For us believers, we need not fear God’s wrath because Jesus Christ upon the cross took all of God’s wrath that should have been directed to us. Yes, Jesus took it completely, bore all the pain and suffering and in return, we get undeserved forgiveness and grace. We need not be afraid anymore. Yes, we stand in God-fearing awe and reverence when we consider what Jesus has done for us but we need not be afraid. This is the good news of the gospel.
When the God of the universe says “Do not be afraid”, we need not worry about any lingering wrath of God because Jesus paid for my sins. Can we stand in awesome fear and reverence? Yes, but we no longer need to be afraid.
Sleep well Christian, your sins are forgiven and you have been rescued from the coming wrath through Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10: "for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” And Christians remember Jesus watches over you. Be not afraid. Oh Jesus, thank you again. Amen.