When angels slip into our world, some of their work is to bring messages from God or assist us with help. From biblical accounts, people who saw angels are described as being very afraid. Often, one of the first things angels said to on their visits was, “Do not be afraid.” The cute trinket angels on lapels and dangling from rearview mirrors do not compare to the awesome-in-appearance angels, who love God, dwell in his presence, and eagerly obey him.
Throughout Jesus’ journey to and in our world, a contingent of angels helped him at his birth, after fasting, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and at his resurrection. They brought heaven’s headlines spreading the news about a wonderful Savior, who brought light into a darkened world.
Besides prophesies about Jesus, the prophets also foretold that a preacher would prepare a generation for the Lord’s teaching ministry. At the right time in the history of mankind, an angel appeared to the priest Zechariah and told him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son to be named John, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news” (Luke 1:19). Their future son known as John the baptizer would prepare the way for Jesus.
For some reason - perhaps Zechariah’s and his wife’s advanced ages - Zechariah doubted the message from God, so this sage teacher of Israel wasn’t allowed to speak until after the miracle babe John was born and named. Sign language, motioning with his hands, and written messages became his method of communication. And I imagine much contemplation began for this aged priest.
A few months after Zechariah’s astonishing news, Angel Gabriel appeared to the young virgin Mary of Nazareth in Galilee, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Mary was greatly troubled by his words and wondered what sort of message she was about to receive from the Lord.
Gabriel brought comforting words to this young woman, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (1:30). Gabriel announced that God had chosen her to bear the Christ Child, who would reign over a kingdom that would never end. Mary knew about child bearing, but being a virgin, she wondered how she would conceive. The angel said that the Holy Spirit and the power of God would cause this to happen and that her son would be named Jesus but be called the Son of God.
The angel then made another startling revelation that her elderly relative, the formerly barren Elizabeth was expecting a child and was already in her sixth month. Maybe Mary’s face took on a shocked expression, because Gabriel stated a truth that anyone can put faith in. “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Mary, a novice worshiper answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). The old priest’s doubtful response and young Mary’s faithful sweet compliance were miracles apart.
The Christmas carol “Angels We Have Heard on High” issues an invitation to join in Jesus’ story. This season and in 2010, worship and adore Jesus:
Angels we have on heard high, sweetly singing ore the plains, and the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains. Come to Bethlehem and see, Christ whose birth the angels sing.
Come adore on bended knee.
Christ the Lord the newborn King.