An Encounter With An Angel of the Lord
Matthew 1:18-25 : Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
As I look out across society I am saddened by how commercial Christmas has become. Christmas isn’t about bargains but a birth, it isn’t about gifts but the gift – the gift of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ who was born so that I might have eternal life!
And what stands out for me in this passage is the role of the angel of the Lord. The angel, literally meaning God’s messenger, who intervenes into the everyday life of Mary and Joseph and offers a direct message from God.. wow! This event, this birth of Jesus that we remember at Christmas is no normal everyday event, this is God acting in our midst.
My wife Louise and I have just made friends with someone new to our neighbourhood who is what I like to call a pre-Christian (rather than non-Christian!), this past weekend her best friend (also pre-Christian) was walking across the road and was hit by a drunken driver. She survived, but had both legs broken, and a range of other quite serious injuries. She was also pregnant and sadly lost her baby. Shocked by our new friends news we began praying for her. Yesterday our friend shared the most amazing story, she described how while lying in bed, coping with the extreme pain of her multiple injuries, she felt a ‘peaceful comforting presence’, when sharing this with our new friend, she replied, ‘Well yes I am here to support you.’ ‘No’ responded the badly injured friend, ‘this is something else I have never experienced, something bigger.’ Our new friend then told her how Louise and I were Christians and had been praying for her! The injured friend was amazed.
I believe that that presence she felt in the room with her was an angel of the Lord. I encourage you to pray for her healing, both physically and emotionally. And please pray that she and our mutual friend might come to know Jesus Christ personally.
And this is what Christmas is about, Christmas is about remembering the moment our saviour Jesus Christ came to earth, why? So that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
So I will enjoy the gifts on Christmas day, but the gift that will be my focus, and that Louise and I will communicate to our children and friends, is the wonderful gift of eternal life.
Praise God for His Son, Jesus Christ!!
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