Angels and the Birth of Christ

Did you ever notice how much angelic activity surrounds the advent of Christ?

  • Gabriel, an angel, tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will have a son who will go before the Messiah (Luke 1:11-20);
  • Gabriel also appears to Mary to tell her she will bear Jesus (Luke 1:26-38);
  • An angel appears to Joseph to explain Jesus’ conception (Matt. 1:20-25);
  • An angel appears to shepherds to announce the birth of Christ (Luke 2:8-12), and then is joined by a great host of angels singing praise to God (Luke 2:13-14);
  • An angel warns Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus (Matt. 2:13), and an angel tells Joseph it is safe to return to Israel (Matt. 2:19-20).

That’s a lot of angelic activity!  Why do you suppose that is?

Of course, there is a sense in which angels are simply performing one of the duties for which God created them.  After all, our word “angel” comes from a Greek word meaning “messenger.”  But I think this involves more than angels simply being God’s messengers.  I think the birth of Christ is a matter that sent shockwaves through the angelic realm.

What I mean is this.  For the angels who dwell in the presence of God, there is no such thing as a “plan of salvation.”  There is no redemption from falling into sin.  And yet angels were aware that God had promised redemption to a much lower order of creatures—human beings.    This had to be a matter of great intrigue for angels.  Why would God set His affection on such pitiable creatures of dust, especially since they had rebelled against Him?  And just as intriguing as the question “why” was the question “how?”

God had promised that He would send a Messiah, a redeemer, a savior.  But the question remained—exactly how would God go about this?  Angels longed to peer into, to understand, these things (1 Peter 1:12).

And then, some two millennia ago, the fog began to lift.  God began sending angels with His message of salvation, and as He did, the angels themselves were allowed to peer into the mystery.  God’s intent was to take upon Himself the likeness of a human being.  The infinite God would confine Himself to a body.  The eternal God would subject Himself to time.  The God who created nature would submit to the laws of nature.  God who owns everything would come into the world with nothing.  And the ever-living God would even submit to death.  All of this to redeem … humans??

Unthinkable.  Unimaginable.  Unbelievable.  Incredible.

And true.

No wonder the angels sang out together, as they had done when God created the cosmos.  And no wonder the theme of their song: “Glory to God in the highest heaven!  And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!”

gkr1996 posted at 2009-12-24 Category: Theological