Just Another Night in Bethlehem
On the first Christmas Eve, there were no brightly colored lights on anyone’s homes. There were no stockings that had been hung with care or any visions of sugarplums dancing in children’s heads. It was just another night in Bethlehem. The census had gone out—that command by Caesar that everyone was to be taxed. But history was about to change in Bethlehem.
All of Israel was living in a very frightening time historically. They lived under the tyrant King Herod who would execute people at will. In addition, the Jews were living in occupied territory. The Romans had taken control of their country. They were no longer free to do what they wanted and live as they wanted. They wondered if Rome would ever leave. Would the violent rule ever cease? Would their world ever change?
Then suddenly angels appeared to the shepherds and told them not to be afraid; the Messiah had been born.
There is a lot to be afraid of in our unstable, volatile world today. It seems that at every turn, we hear about another horrific tragedy happening in our world. It can cause us to be terrified.
Then there are the personal fears: What if I lose my health? What if I lose a member of my family? What if this happens? What if that happens? A lot of things run through our minds.
Here is the message of the first Christmas—and the message for us this Christmas: Don’t be afraid. . . . I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Ray Stedman wrote, "The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy."
Does that describe you? Fear is what Christmas came to remove—and now we can have joy in its place.