Summary: There are four visits from Angels in the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Matthew and Luke. There’s no other instance in the bible, where God sent angels and dreams to speak to the key players.
Two Visits from Gabriel
Christmas Eve 2020
There are four visits from Angels in the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Matthew and Luke.
There’s no other instance in the bible, where God sent angels and dreams to speak to the key players.
Gabriel was the angel who also spoke to the prophet, Daniel. He was considered the guardian of Israel.
Luke 1:5-14, 18-19 NIV
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 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 give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
• Zechariah and Elizabeth were normal people with normal routines when God broke into their world.
Luke 1:26-38 NIV
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Elizabeth was shamed for having no children and Mary was shamed for having one at the wrong time.
What do these stories mean for us today?
1. God’s patient with us.
God answers the prayers of people with imperfect faith or imperfect stories.
God responds to our questions.
Zechariah was asking for proof that God was able.
Mary was asking how God would do it. She believed God was able but didn’t understand how.
2. God’s full of surprises.
As we get older, we tend to lose our innocence and our wonder.
Wonder – surprised by something beautiful
"The basic difference between a living God and a dead god is that a living God can still surprise you." Robert Jenson
Luke 1:65 NIV (After Elizabeth birthed John the Baptist)
The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.
We can never experience real freedom until we’re following a more beautiful way.
We need a new imagination, a new way of seeing and thinking.
• Zechariah and Elisabeth were content with their lives.
• Mary certainly was not ready to be a mom.
• Still, God surprised them!
• Are you open to a surprise from God?