Luke 2:9, “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”
Have you ever felt great fear?
In Luke 2, the shepherds experience a great fear. In the Greek, it says they had mega phobia.
Why? Because we’re told: “the glory of the Lord shone around them.”
The shepherds had great fear because God’s glory shining was a sign of His presence. His glory is the radiance of His perfection and holiness (think of a diamond, in it’s perfection, shining and reflecting light; God’s glory is His perfection shining!). Their fear was because as sinners we cannot abide in the presence of God’s holiness.
So they had great fear at the presence of God. But get this: This is what they should have had as sinners before a holy God. Great Fear. And we would be terrified too, if God’s holiness shone so directly upon us. So we can never live with God.
But here then is one of the greatest parts about the message of Jesus’ birth: God shone His glory for just a moment. And then upon only the shepherds. He did it so that we see what it would be like if He did come in full glory. We’d all be mega afraid.
But the wonder of this first Christmas is that Jesus Christ—who is God—hid His glory. So we wouldn’t have to fear. He hid His glory as a baby, in a manger. In other words: He came the first time not to judge, but to save. He came the first time not to condemn us in our sins, but take away our sins. So that when He comes the second time—and then, in full glory (Matthew 25:31)—then those who have had their sins forgiven by God, through faith in Jesus, will not fear. But only stand in awe at His glory.
Jesus came to take away your great fear. And instead give you great joy (see Luke 2:11). That’s amazing grace. Do you believe it? Do you believe in Him?
Today we can see His glory reflected in sunsets (Psalm 19), and they make us say, “Wow!” So imagine what it will be like to take in His glory directly… It will be like witnessing the light of million of the greatest sunsets all at once roll over us. Oh, for the glory of God to shine upon us! Oh for Jesus to take away all our sins!