When the angel delivered his heavenly announcement to the shepherds, he started with, "Do not be afraid." But the shepherds, along with all of Israel, lived in frightening times. They were under the reign of King Herod, who was a tyrant. Their land was under Roman occupation. There was fear about the future. Would Rome ever leave? Would they ever be free? Would the Messiah ever come?
Then suddenly there were angels announcing to the shepherds that the Messiah had come: "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people" (Luke 2:10). Having angels appear was frightening in itself. Angels were awe-inspiring beings. That is why, when we read of angelic appearances in the Bible, we often see them starting with, "Fear not."
The message of Christmas is fear not. Have joy. As commentator Ray Stedman said, "The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy."
Yet it can be difficult for us to have joy because we are surrounded by sadness. With all the tragedies in the world, all the acts of terrorism, and all the problems we have, how can we have good tidings of great joy? The answer is this: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).
No matter what happens in life, remember this: You have a Savior. As a Christian, you have been saved from death. You have been saved from eternal punishment and Hell. You have the hope that when you die, you will go straight to Heaven. That is the most important thing about the Christian life. There is a Heaven waiting for you. You have a Savior.