I’ve never seen an angel. Have you? Neither had Mary … or Joseph . .. or the shepherds … until, all of a sudden … they were confronted with these amazing heavenly beings. They are an important part of the Christmas story.
Can you imagine what it was like to be Mary and have the angel Gabriel appear out of nowhere and speak to you in your room? He said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you…” (Luke 1:28). “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” he continued. Yeah, sure. How is that possible? I’d be shaking in my boots. And his announcement that she, a virgin, was to bear a child, the Son of the Highest, was shocking, to say the least.
Fortunately, God sent an angel to Joseph also. How else could he have believed such a far-fetched story? This time the angel appeared in a dream. But it was so real that Joseph knew he could believe the message. Again, the announcement included a “Do not fear” clause. And Joseph obeyed by marrying Mary and caring for her throughout her pregnancy. (You can read the story in Matthew 1:18-24.)
When Jesus, the promised Messiah, actually arrived, there was an angel on hand to announce it to some humble shepherds tending their sheep on the outskirts of Bethlehem. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said. “There’s a Savior born tonight. Go and see Him in the stable at the inn down the road.” The glory of the Lord that surrounded the angel was enlarged to encompass a “multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13). I wonder how many there were. And I wonder what their voices sounded like. It must have been glorious!
I believe that angels are active in the world today. They are part of the invisible spirit world that surrounds us. Although they usually are hidden from us, they make appearances occasionally, either in plain sight or in dreams. Sometimes I imagine meeting one. And it makes me wonder If I would freak out or listen calmly to the message they bring. That’s what angels do (among other things). They bring messages from God. I hope I would be as quick to believe and to obey as Mary and Joseph and the shepherds were.
They were real people, remember, like us. Someday, I’m sure we will have the privilege of seeing and meeting angels in Heaven. We will join them in worship around the throne of God. I’m excited about that! Are you?