The Angel Visitation
“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end’” (Luke 1:30-33). The King of Heaven is worshiped and adored by the hosts of heaven. At extraordinary moments, heaven and earth intersect. On that first Christmas, the kingdom of heaven touched the earth. The immortal took on mortality. “. . . O LORD our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8)
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with honor and glory. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says. . . “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
We are born to die. Until Jesus came, that was the end of the matter. There were hints that the “dry bones” in the desert might once again come to life, but even the Psalmist speaks of life after death in veiled terms. “And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness” (Ps.17:15). No one had visited heaven and returned. Only a few had seen angels or heard the voice of God, yet they saw evidence of his power in nature. When Jesus came, all that changed. Heaven came down to the earth, proceeded by the royal retinue of heavenly hosts.
I recently watched an episode of the Netflix production, “The Crown.” At one point, Prince Charles is invited to have supper with his Welsh professor. There is an awkward moment when he enters the home and is recognized by the wife and child. The future king of England sits in their modest front room, learning how to count in Welsh with their son. What a picture of the manger in Bethlehem. The creator of the universe is stripped of his glory, and laid in swaddling clothes in the manger hay. The divine takes on flesh.
When Nicodemus visits Jesus in the night, he is told, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:13-15). For the first time, heaven has come to us and the King of heaven lives with us, teaches us, speaks in parables, does miracles, is visited by angels and declared by God to be his beloved son. This heaven sent King had to die, as all creatures must die, but then the unthinkable happened: death’s power was broken and he came to life again. This is our only proof that there is life after death. It was witnessed by hundreds in the days following his resurrection, and the church was born out of the confident assurance that He is risen. Heaven bore witness to earth that we too could enter into eternal life. Magnificent.
” Lord, on this night, we remember the impossible—God became flesh and dwelt among us. We don’t know how to handle the divine. Few have ever witnessed it, yet on that night, the angels came to our planet and celebrated God with us. We invite you into our home on this special night of celebration. Thank you.” Amen