Encounter with Angels
The birth of Jesus was no ordinary birth. Angels announced his coming and rejoiced at his birth. Keep reading to learn more about who each angel appeared to and what they foretold.
An angel of the Lord first appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of his son, John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. The reality of Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, to have a son was a miracle in itself since they were both very old at this time.
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him. But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ “
Mary’s Encounter with Angels
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Mary’s relative), the angel Gabriel was sent by God to Mary with exciting news too.
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’ ” Luke 1:26-27, 30-32a, 35
More Angel Encounters
Mary and Joseph each had their own encounter with angels!
Can you imagine how this news must have complicated the lives of Mary and Joseph. In this culture, Mary could have been killed for a pregnancy outside of marriage. Naturally Joseph faced some tough decisions but he too had an encounter with an angel.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).’ ” Matthew 1:18-21
Shepherds Encountered Angels Too
As it came time for Mary to give birth, they had to make the difficult trip to Bethlehem to be registered for a census. Jesus made a very humble entrance into the world being laid in a manager because they had no room to stay in when they arrived in Bethlehem. The announcement about Jesus’ birth came in a humble way too…to shepherds who were tending to their flocks in the fields. Another encounter with angels.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ ” Luke 2:8-14
Not exactly the birth we would have expected from the Son of God. Jesus turned the world upside down with his birth and many of his teachings.
Want to learn more about Jesus? Start with our page How to Find God.