Have you ever seen an angel? I don’t mean an angel disguised in flesh; I mean a real, bathed-in-the-light, bona fide angel. I haven’t, not even in my dreams, and I can’t imagine how I would feel if I saw one.
Think about the angels in the Christmas story. The main characters went about their everyday tasks when,
a real, bathed-in-the-light, bona fide angel showed up shattering their peace and scaring them half to death.
First, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah who was by himself in the temple. Seeing an angel terrified him, but Gabriel brought good news:
“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord . . .He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:13-17 NIV
John would grow up to be John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, the one who would launch Jesus’ ministry here on earth.
Next, Gabriel appeared to Mary. He shattered her peace with a single word. “Greetings!” Mary was frightened wondering what kind of greeting this might be. But Gabriel told her not to be afraid.
“You have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1: 30-33 NIV
But there was a problem. When Mary told Joseph what Gabriel said, Joseph found it hard to believe. The angels had that covered, too. While Joseph slept, one of them came to him in a dream and said:
“Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:20-21 NIV
The angels were quiet then until the night when Jesus was born. On that peaceful night, an angel made a grand entrance. He appeared to shepherds in the fields, arriving in a gloriously wild (and terrifying) burst of light. And the angel said, (you guessed it) “Do not be afraid . . .
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 NIV
Then the starlit sky tore open revealing a heavenly host of real, bona fide, bathed-in-the-light angels praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 KJV
Wow! Can you imagine what that must have been like? Jesus, the Messiah, entered the world on the heels of messenger angels. Real angels. Bona fide angels. Angels bathed in the glory of God’s heavenly light.
When they finished proclaiming Jesus’ birth, the sky closed up and the angels returned to heaven. Mission accomplished. God’s angels were the thread that wove the Christmas story. They came not to cause fear, but to reveal God’s plan—His greatest plan ever!
This fourth week of Advent is about Peace.
Jesus came to bring peace
to everyone who would ever believe in Him—
The peace that comes with the promise of eternal life in heaven.
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