Angels for Jesus Christ
Angels play a very important role in the birth of Jesus Christ and his life. Even before Christ is born, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist is privileged to receive a special messenger. Angels appear at the birth of Christ, after the devil tempted Jesus 40 days, before his torture, ridicule, disfigurement and crucifixion as well as his resurrection and later his ascension.
The first appearance of an angel in the Gospels concerns the father of John the Baptist. John is an instrumental person in paving the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. Zacharias and Elizabeth are 'well stricken in years' and Elizabeth has been barren. Zacharias has a ministry in the priest's office once a year to burn incense. While he is in the temple Gabriel, one of God's archangels, appears:
:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord
standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled,
and fear fell upon him.
:13 But the angel said unto him,
Fear not, Zacharias:
for thy prayer is heard;
and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son,
and thou shalt call his name John.
:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness;
and many shall rejoice at his birth.
:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord,
and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink;
and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,
even from his mother's womb.
:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, [Elijah]
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just;
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
What a message! When we go about our daily business you never know when an angel might show up. And when they do 'fear not' (which must be a natural reaction at times, Zacharias thought he was alone). The message Gabriel delivered is astounding; they are going to have a child that will prepare the people for the Lord, the redeemer of Israel. Now Israel has been without a prophet for close to 400 years (since Malachi). This could be as many as 8 generations. I could see how Zacharias found that hard to believe and God temporarily muted him so could he speak no unbelief (Luke 1:18-20).
The next visitation is to Mary. Her reaction and obedience is a wonderful example of trusting God and a manifestation of the Word that she had hidden in her heart.
:26 And in the sixth month
the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee,
:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David;
and the virgin's name was Mary.
:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said,
Hail, thou that art highly favoured,
the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women.
:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying,
and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
:30 And the angel said unto her,
Fear not, Mary:
for thou hast found favour with God.
:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb,
and bring forth a son,
and shalt call his name JESUS.
:32 He shall be great,
and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
:34 Then said Mary unto the angel,
How shall this be,
seeing I know not a man?
:35 And the angel answered and said unto her,
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing
which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God
:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth,
she hath also conceived a son in her old age:
and this is the sixth month with her,
who was called barren.
:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
:38 And Mary said,
Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it unto me according to thy word.
And the angel departed from her.
What a message!! Her initial reaction also was to be afraid or troubled. There must be power in those words "fear not" for what Gabriel spoke to her after that was not an ordinary conversation. Put yourself in her shoes/sandals. Ok, even if you are a guy, think about it. Gabriel just told her that she will bear the messiah-the Christ child-the redeemer and her cousin Elizabeth (who is old) is six months pregnant. Culturally this is not any easy situation. She is engaged and God is going to create seed in her causing her to become pregnant. It is a disgrace and an action worthy of death if it is found out that she is pregnant before she is married. They stone people to death for that. She decides to trust God and her believing is unfaltering. She consents, "be it unto me according to thy word." She then goes to visit Elizabeth and the revelation is confirmed.
Now we need one more angel appearance for Joseph who is espoused (engaged) to Mary. Note that this will be the third appearance and the biblical significance of three is completeness. Joseph is also aware that it is highly scandalous for a woman to be pregnant without being married. When Joseph finds out he is troubled, yet decides to do the decent thing and put her away privately-he sure loves her and is an honorable man.
:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: [known]
When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph,
before they came together,
she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
:19 Then Joseph her husband,
being a just man,
and not willing to make her a publick example,
was minded to put her away privily.
:20 But while he thought on these things, [how is he going to do this]
behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, thou son of David,
fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
:21 And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name JESUS:
for he shall save his people from their sins.
:22 Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child,
and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is, God with us.
:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep
did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him,
and took unto him his wife: [married her]
:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son:
and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph decided to brave the social consequences also in favor of God's message and married Mary anyway. To consummate the marriage they had to have intercourse and God said she would be a virgin so the token of her virginity must have still been present on their wedding night (God said it would be). Where God says "And knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son" that is Joseph had intercourse with Mary but not resulting in pregnancy (for she was already pregnant). Consequently Mary was not a virgin at the birth of Christ, just at the conception which is what God said would happen; no more and no less.
The next appearance of angels is at the birth of Christ.
:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.
:10 And the angel said unto them,
for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.
:12 And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.
:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
:14 Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men.
:15 And it came to pass,
as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem,
and see this thing which is come to pass,
which the Lord hath made known unto us.
:16 And they came with haste,
and found Mary,
and the babe lying in a manger.
:17 And when they had seen it,
they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
This angel brought the best news since Genesis 3:15 when God said he would bring forth seed of the woman that will bruise Satan's head. They have been waiting for this since the fall of man 6,000 years ago. No wonder they told everyone.
After Christ was born there came wise men, Maggai, to King Herod and they asked him where the King of the Jews was. These Maggai had been watching the stars and knew that when a certain condition existed the messiah would be born. Herod then asked the Maggai to find the child and report back.
:9 When they had heard the king, they departed;
and, lo, the star,
which they saw in the east,
went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.
[young child- paidion not the brephos-babe that the shepherds saw]
:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
:11 And when they were come into the house,
[not the stable where Christ was born]
they saw the young child with Mary his mother,
and fell down, and worshipped him:
and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts;
:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod,
they departed into their own country another way.
:13 And when they were departed,
behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying,
Arise, and take the young child and his mother,
and flee into Egypt,
and be thou there until I bring thee word:
for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
:14 When he arose,
he took the young child and his mother by night,
and departed into Egypt:
:15 And was there until the death of Herod:
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Out of Egypt have I called my son.
:16 Then Herod,
when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men,
was exceeding wroth,
and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem,
and in all the coasts thereof,
from two years old and under, [Jesus must have been less than two]
according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
God sent an angel to Joseph again to warn him so that the Christ child would be protected. The maggai's gifts (which were costly) came in handy so they could travel to Egypt and escape Herod's murderous proclamation.
:19 But when Herod was dead,
behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Arise, and take the young child
and his mother,
and go into the land of Israel:
for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
:21 And he arose,
and took the young child
and his mother,
and came into the land of Israel.
God spoke to Joseph by way of angels so that the Jesus Christ would be safe from Herod. One question that I asked myself was why did the angels appear in Joseph's dreams? Mary and Zacharias saw the angel face to face. God will speak to you the way that you will understand and believe. Neither way is better or more prestigious than the next. It is simply the way you can receive God's message.
There are many appearances of angels for Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. First, God sent Gabriel to Elizabeth for John the Baptist to be born to prepare the way, then to Mary and Joseph to notify them, build their believing, then to protect him. We will see next week that angels are also sent to minister and to validate God's actions.
Continued next week . . .