Advent Devotions from Good Shepherd (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38)

angel(Devotion from Bruce Purdy)

Luke 1:26-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1:18-25 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

The Gospels foretelling the Birth of Christ

Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38

Two Gospels and two different accounts foretelling the Birth of Christ.  Both include an angel of the Lord coming to deliver the news.  One came to Mary and one came to Joseph.  Both Mary and Joseph listened to the angel and believed the news that God sent to them.  When Gabriel came to Mary, we don’t know whether he came in a glorious light, or just suddenly appeared. We do know that the angel came to Joseph in a dream. But something about both appearances allowed each of them to believe.

These passages both stuck with me because the common interpretation of an angel is in a white robe, wings and a halo.  Yet that description was not included in either story.  Could it be that the angel looked just like another human being? After all, it was not the appearance, but the greeting itself that seemed to trouble Mary.

Today people don’t talk much of angels except when describing another person as “such an angel.”  Bu maybe we don’t see angels as we are blinded by the business of the world around us.  Maybe we do not hear them giving us God’s messages as we are deaf to other distractions. What it Mary and Joseph had not heard or listened to the angels?

As we celebrate Advent and the coming celebration of the Birth of Christ, may we all open our hearts and minds to listen to the angels in our lives.

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