A Study of The Gospel of Luke Part 2
The theme of our 2nd study in the book of Luke is “Don’t Be Afraid”
Fear has been a part of the human existence since the fall of man in Genesis 3:8-10. Everyone, regardless of how brave they appear, are afraid of something.
Over the years I have developed a greater respect (fear) of heights. To borrow from someone else, “I would have to say that my fear of heights is really a fear of the sudden stop that awaits me at the bottom of my fall.”
Like I said, everyone is afraid of something. (Snakes, Spiders, Disease, Financial Setbacks, Disappointment, Being Forgotten…)
Even in the Bible, we find examples of those who at times were gripped by fear:
- Jacob displayed fear of Esau – Genesis 32:6-8
- Moses feared Pharaoh – Exodus 2:14
- Moses feared Rejection – Exodus 4:1
- The Disciples feared the storm – Matthew 8:24-26
Nothing has changed! People still get caught in the grip of their fears. We fear not having enough money. We fear not meeting someone’s expectations. We worry over meals and over who will be there and who will not. There are moments when our plans get derailed and our world gets turned upside down and fear can begin to set in.
When this happens we need a Word from our heavenly Father and I believe that we find such a Word from the story before us today. A word from Him who is able to expel our fears and eliminate our worries.
Three times God sent angelic messengers to the earth with messages connected to the birth of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Each time, they brought big news, news which troubled the hearts of their hearers. However, they also came with a message of peace.
Three times the angels appeared. Three times they spoke the words, “Fear not.”
Let’s take some time to examine the messages of these angels and learn for ourselves what “Don’t be afraid,” means.
1. We Do Not Have to Fear Because of God’s Providence (God’s Wisdom)
The Calmness Of Mary’s Life
Providence = The care, guardianship, and control exercised by a deity; it’s divine direction. In other words, it is the overruling watchful care and involvement of God in the lives of His people.
When Gabriel appears to Mary, she is probably about 14 or 15 years old. She has probably grown up dreaming the same romantic dreams that girls have dreamed since the beginning of time. Dreams of marriage, home and family. She is even engaged to a man named Joseph and about to be married. She is living close to the Lord and is living a good life before Him.
Mary seems to have it all together. A bright future is awaiting her, she has everything for which to live.
I really like it when my life goes just as I have planned. Don’t you? Don’t we all? There are times when we sail the calm seas of life, but those days often seem fleeting and few when compared to the days when trials stalk us like savage beasts.
The Challenge To Mary’s Life
When Gabriel makes His announcement to Mary, her life is immediately turned upside down. Mary is called upon to bear shame, reproach and humiliation for the glory of God. Hers’ is to be the greatest honor ever afforded to a woman. But at the same time, it carried with it a tremendous social stigma. (Very much unlike our day!)
When our lives do not go as we have planned, it is easy to fear that which is unknown. Often, God will allow things to happen in your life and in mine that are hard to bear and hard to understand, yet the Lord sends them our way so that we might grow in Him and come to know Him in a better way. When these times arise, it is easy to question the Lord and His judgment. In fact, it’s always easy to question, but it is far nobler to comply with the Lord.
You see, one inescapable part of being a Christian is the area of cross-bearing (Matt. 16:24). No one said such a life was easy, but the end results are worth the trials of this life!
The secret to surviving the dreadful times is to learn to trust completely in the Lord.
Although Nancy earned a meager living by hard work, she was a radiant, triumphant believer. One day a wealthy lady with a very gloomy outlook on life said to her, “You’re happy now, but what about later? Or suppose your employer moves and you have no job? Or suppose…” Nancy broke in, “Stop! I never suppose! The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want,” Then she added, “And it’s all those ‘supposes’ that are making you so miserable. Why don’t you give them up and trust the Lord completely?” That just about sums us up as well, doesn’t it?
The Consecration Of Mary’s Life
Despite the shame that was sure to come her way, despite the humiliation she would bear, Mary was willing to submit her life to the will of the Lord. In doing so, she sets an example of obedience and surrender that every child of God needs to take to heart.
You and I would do well to learn to submit to the will of the Lord in every detail of life. We need never fear the providential hand of God, for He will never do us wrong! Regardless of what may come our way in life, we can rest assured that God is going to use it to bring glory to Himself and to help us learn more about Him.
Joseph was loved by his father and occupied a special place of privilege in his family. Yet, God allowed Joseph to be sold by his brothers into slavery and to spend the next 13 years in either servitude or prison. However, in the end, God proved that His plan was the right plan and Joseph came out on tope of the heap – Gen. 50:20.)
2. WE DO NOT HAVE TO FEAR GOD’s PLAN
The “Fear Not” of Immediate Obedience
The Pain Of Joseph’s Life
Joseph, like Mary, was on the way to having all that a Jewish man could have asked for in that day. He was about to be married to a pure, righteous Jewish girl. Everything was falling into place. Then came the news that shattered his life and brought all his dreams and hopes crashing down to the ground. Mary was pregnant, and Joseph was not the father. With his dreams shattered, his hopes dashed, his pride lost, his life may have already seemed over. To Joseph, there appeared to be only 2 possible solutions…
1. He could divorce Mary quietly and have her sent away until the baby was born.
2. He could divorce her publicly, and thereby subject her to the ridicule and humiliation of the public. This option could also have resulted in her death according to Deuteronomy 24.
Joseph’s life was literally turned upside down by the news of Mary’s pregnancy.
We have all faced a similar situation. You thought you had everything lined up and planned out pretty well, and then the Lord went and did something that was against the rules and messed everything up, or so you thought. However, this simply is what life is like under the curse of sin (Job 14:1; Eccl. 2:23).
This was the problem Job faced. He suffered the loss of everything he had worked for and everything he loved. His was a life of trial and trouble. These times will come to all of us and must be handled, or they will handle us.
The Privilege Of Joseph’s Life
As Joseph pondered what to do about his situation, God sent an angel to tell Joseph that he was about to gain far more than he stood to lose. Joseph finds out that he is the man who has been chosen to raise the Messiah. He had been handpicked by God to provide Jesus with His physical and spiritual training. His is a privilege that is unique to all of humanity.
Sometimes, the Lord’s assignments are costly, but they always pay back far more than they require from us. In fact, just the privilege of being chosen by God to do anything is a privilege beyond description! Thank God, He chooses the common man to carry out His dictates and plans.
The Priorities Of Joseph’s Life
Joseph willingly took the assignment offered to him by God. In spite of the ridicule and the humiliation, he was willing to make the Lord’s will a priority in his life. This is an example that we all need to emulate. It was never a question of “if” with Joseph. He was willing to obey the clear command of God without question.
Do not fear God’s purposes. They may look intimidating in the beginning, but in the end, He will be glorified and you will be blessed (Rom. 8:28; Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:15-17).
Regardless of what comes your way in life, determine in your heart that you will seek the Lord’s will and will do that which He has called upon you to do above all other things, and He will be glorified!)
3. WE DO NOT FEAR GOD’S PRESENTATION
The “Fear Not” of Salvation
The Burden Of These Shepherds
These men were the social outcasts of the day. They were usually vulgar, dirty, smelly and unkept. They were also religious outcasts. By virtue of their very jobs, they were defiled and considered unfit to participate in the ceremonies of the Temple. They were separated from both God and man. If any men every needed hope, these men did! Hope is what they got!
This is the natural state of man. Separated from God by virtue of our sins and doomed to an eternity apart from Him (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 59:2).
The Blessedness Of These Shepherd’s Lives
These outcast keepers of the lambs, are the first to receive the news that the Lamb of God has come into the world. What a privilege has been afforded to these humble shepherds.
Why were these shepherds afraid? Sinners have always displayed fear when they were confronted with the reality of God, because coming face to face with the Almighty has a way of making one have to face his own sin. And that is a true cause for fear.
Sinners ought to fear the Lord. After all, it is the beginning of all wisdom (Pro. 9:10). But we must remember that the Lord’s presentations are also His invitations for us to come unto Him. When He shows Himself to man, God is desiring that men respond in faith and come to Him. Note that the angels gave the shepherds directions as to how to find the baby Jesus. What a blessing for these lowly men to be called to come before the King of glory. Yet, that is the same privilege enjoyed by everyone on earth today (Rev. 22:17; John 3:16).
There is only one reason why men remain in their sins and wind up in Hell. It is summed up in one statement from the lips of the Lord, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Have you accepted His invitation?
The Brilliance Of These Shepherd’s Lives
After these shepherds met the baby Jesus, they were forever changed. They left the manger spreading the good news that the Messiah had come. All those who heard the shepherds marveled at their story. It must have been a strange thing to hear shepherds speak of religious matters.
When the shepherds heard the message of the angel, they reacted with fear, but that fear eventually lead to their salvation. So it is with us. Some may fear to hear the message of the Gospel and to come to the Lord for salvation. You may think that God will not forgive you of your sins, or that you have been too evil for Him to save. The truth is, if He is calling you to come to Him, there is no way that He would ever turn you away (John 6:37). Then, if you come to Him, you will find that He has the power to forever change your life and make you what you never thought you could be (2 Cor. 5:17). He can take a life of wickedness and turn it around for His glory, if you will allow Him the opportunity to do so.
Three times the angels came and three times there was a reaction based in fear. However, when the fear had been dealt with and the Lord’s message was allowed to come through, the message was seen for what it really was; a promise of grace.
There may be those things around you that you fear, but if you can learn the lesson that Mary, Joseph and the shepherds learned, and that is to trust the Lord whatever the cost, then you will find that He can turn fear to peace for you.
An old man was asked what had robbed him of joy the most in his lifetime. He replied, “Things that never happened!” All of us can recall needless burdens that we have put on our own shoulders by anticipating the worst. Certainly the Lord does not lay such burdens on us.
Someone has cited these three keys to happiness:
1. Fret Not – He loves you – (John 13:1).
2. Faint Not – He holds you – (Psalm 139:10).
3. Fear Not – He keeps you – (Psalm 121:5).
W. B. Davidson wrote, “When just a small child, I accompanied my father on a short trip to see Grandmother, who lived 3 miles from our home. We remained longer that we should have, and night overtook us. Between our home and Grandmother’s house was a swamp. That night the frogs’ croaking and the crickets’ chirping, together with the darkness and the shadows of the trees, frightened me. I inquired of my father if there was any danger of something catching us, but he assured me there was nothing to dread. And so, taking me by the hand, he said, ‘I will not allow anything to harm you.’ Immediately my fears passed away and I was ready to face the world, for my father had me by the hand.”
Is there fear in your heart today? Bring it to Jesus!
Is there sadness? Bring it to Jesus!
Is there fear over sin and hell? Bring it to Jesus!
Is there disappointment and disillusionment over the trials of life? Bring it to Jesus!
Are there burdens too heavy to bear? Bring it to Jesus!
Is there brokenness and despair? Bring it to Jesus!
Is there failure and defeat? Bring it to Jesus!
Whatever it is that is causing you to fear, BRING IT TO JESUS!