Christmas from the Angle of Angels

by Rev. Terence Groth

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Angels play such a prominent role in the story of our Lord’s birth that we might even tell the Christmas story from their perspective.

The evangelist Luke sets the stage with the story of John the Baptist’s birth in Luke 1:5–25.

John’s parents, the childless Zechariah and Elizabeth, “were both well along in years” (vv. 7, 18 NIV) when the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah with surprising “good news” (v. 19). God had chosen them to have a special son who would “be a joy and delight” to them and cause many to rejoice (v. 14). What role was John to play in God’s long-awaited plan? vv. 16–17

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Gabriel indeed announced good news. But more was to come. Luke goes on in 1:26–38 to tell how Gabriel also paid a visit to a young virgin named Mary. She lived in the small town of Nazareth and was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of the great king David (vv. 26–27). The angel shocked Mary with this news: Like Elizabeth, she too was going to have a child. Who would Mary’s child be? v. 32a

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What would Mary’s child do? vv. 32b–33

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Since Mary was a virgin, how was this to happen? vv. 35, 37

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What bold statement of commitment did Mary make to Gabriel that demonstrated her faith in his astounding message? v. 38

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Giving us more of the behind-the-scenes insight, the evangelist Matthew relates the involvement of “an angel of the Lord” in assisting Joseph (Matt. 1:18–25). We can only imagine the struggle Joseph must have had when his betrothed Mary “was found to be with child” (v. 18). While Joseph labored to determine an appropriate but gracious response, he also was visited by an angel—in a dream (v. 20). This angel too had a startling message. How did the angel explain Mary’s pregnancy? vv. 20–21

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How was Joseph’s faith and obedience demonstrated in his response to the angel’s direction? vv. 24–25

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Meanwhile, as Luke continues the Christmas story (Luke 2:8–20), he takes us to the night Jesus was born. Once again angels are on the scene. To what unlikely characters did an angel gloriously appear near Bethlehem? vv. 8–9

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As usual, the angel tells his hearers, “Do not be afraid” (v. 10). And again Luke underscores that, true to the meaning of angel, this “messenger” brought “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (v. 10). What was the angel’s good news? v. 11

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As a grand finale for Christmas Eve, the single messenger was suddenly joined by “a great company of the heavenly host” (v. 13) who enthusiastically praised God. What was the angels’ happy chorus? v. 14

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After the angels returned to heaven, how did the shepherds show they really believed the angels? vv. 15–20

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The apostle Paul hints that angels are present whenever believers gather in worship (1 Cor. 11:10). Then certainly they fill our churches during the Christmas season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and theirs. Most assuredly on Christmas Eve they join with us in singing the hymn they copyrighted, “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Luke 2:14). Absolutely they rejoice to hear their (God’s!) good news announced again. Do you ever wonder: what does our celebration of the Christmas story look like from their angle? May it be blessed from every angle with God’s grace and joy!

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