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Announced by Angels
Terry R. Baughman
“And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus’” (Luke 1:28–31).
We believe in angels; we just don’t expect to see them every day. As a matter of fact we may live our entire lives and never see an angel. The visitation of an angel is a rare and noteworthy event, but the Gospels begin with several supernatural visitations as God prepares to begin a new work among the people. After four hundred years without a prophetic voice or an angelic visitation, suddenly the texts are filled with prophecies and fulfillments, with holy annunciations. This was a time of momentous change and dramatic events.
The angel Gabriel first appeared to Zachariah as he served in the Temple in Jerusalem. His first response was the common reaction to seeing an angelic visitation; he was afraid. Usually the angel responds with the same statement, “Do not be afraid!” Zachariah and Elizabeth had been unable to have children. The angel’s message was that they would indeed have a child, a son in their old age. When Zachariah returned home from Temple service he had quite a message to convey to his beloved wife. Most importantly the angel informed Zachariah that they were to name him John and that he would prepare the way of the Lord. He would be the forerunner of the Messiah.
Six months later the angel Gabriel visited Mary, a young virgin girl in Nazareth, with a profound announcement, “You have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:30–31). As she was still trembling with fear and struggling to process the magnitude of this announcement Gabriel continued, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32–33).
Excitedly, Mary shared the news of her angelic visit with her betrothed, soon-to-be husband, Joseph. It is no surprise that he was not so excited. He considered the legal ramification of having a child out of wedlock and the shame it would bring on him. As he went to bed, still considering what his next course of action should be, he was also visited by an angel, but in dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20–21).
This visit from an angel confirmed the truth of Mary’s story and Joseph embraced his role in God’s mission. He continued with the plans for their marriage and purposed to protect her until the birth of her son. They named Him Jesus according to the instructions of the angel.
An angel also appeared to shepherds in the field on the night of His birth declaring, “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Angels shared the news of Christ’s coming, celebrated His arrival and worshipped Him!
“I am covered by your covenant of mercy and love. So I come to your sanctuary with deepest awe to bow in worship and adore you” (Psalm 5:7 The Passion Translation).