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DAY 9: THE GLORY OF THE LORD ACCORDING TO GABRIEL

Kemuliaan Tuhan menurut Gabriel

Indonesian | Luke 1

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.”

– Luke 1:30

 

Fear.

Fear is a universal experience. Fear can be triggered by many factors. Some fear the dark; others fear the uncertainty of the future. Some fear losing their loved ones; others fear being rejected. Some fear failing; others fear for their safety. Some fear because of war; others fear the ever–present shadow of death. In Indonesia, many people fear the spirit world, malevolent spirit–beings, and dark magic. They fear that dark magic and evil spirits might inflict harm on them.

Fear always lurks near us, waiting for the right time to seize us. This is why the message of the angel Gabriel in Luke 1 is important. Twice the angel exclaimed, “Do not be afraid.” When he appeared to Zechariah the priest, Zechariah was shocked and became very afraid. To calm him down, the angel Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:13). Later on, when Gabriel visited Mary, she too was startled. The angel Gabriel reiterated his message, “Do not be afraid” (1:30). In fact, Luke recorded that when Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their sheep. Guess what was the first thing that the angel said. “Do not be afraid” (2:10).

It is true that in the incidents mentioned above, the people needed to be calmed since they were startled by the appearance of the divine messenger. However, the exhortation goes beyond merely calming down the shocked recipients. The exhortation by Gabriel is strongly related to his main message: God is about to execute his plan of salvation through Jesus. To Zechariah, Gabriel stated that his son would be a forerunner to the coming Lord. John the baptizer, as he would be known later, would call the Israelites to repentance (1:13–17). To Mary, Gabriel declared that she would bear a child—a saviour, who is the promised Messiah and king from the line of David (1:30–33). Furthermore, he explained that it would be a miraculous birth through the power of the Holy Spirit (1:35).

When Zechariah voiced his doubt, Gabriel responded by explaining his identity. “I am Gabriel,” he said (1:19). For the Jews at that time, the name Gabriel recalled an angel with the same name who visited Daniel twice (Daniel 8:16; 9:21) and helped Daniel to understand God’s plan. Likewise, in his visit to Zechariah, Gabriel declared that he stood in the presence of God and had been sent to proclaim the good news of God’s plan of salvation (Luke 1:19). Gabriel’s message to Zechariah and Mary was not one of doom. Rather, it was a message of hope.

For Christians today, Gabriel’s message seems to be a thing of the past. Jesus has been born, has died, and has been resurrected. Yet Gabriel’s exhortation still stands: do not be afraid! God’s good news is not confined to the past. It also belongs to us who live in the present. God has carried out his plan of salvation in Jesus. We are now waiting for its completion. We do not wait in fear but in an assured hope.

Fear is a universal experience. Fear can rob us of our joy. The things that we fear might become reality. Nevertheless, for Christians, fear is not and will not be the last word. Gabriel, the divine messenger, has reminded us: do not be afraid! God will certainly accomplish his plan of salvation through Jesus. In this Advent season, may we learn to trust that, while fear might creep in, Jesus our Lord and Saviour will protect and see us through.

Fear not.

 

DR DANY CHRISTOPHER
Jakarta, Indonesia

Dr Dany Christopher is a Langham Scholar who currently serves as a lecturer in Biblical Studies and the head of the ThM program at Amanat Agung School Theology (STTAA) in Jakarta, Indonesia

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