One of the most important roles of angels is to serve as God’s messengers, and angels played a key part in the life of Jesus Christ, delivering a number of messages about the coming of the Messiah and Savior of the world.
The story of Jesus starts before his birth, beginning with the forerunner of Christ – John the Baptist, and is found in Luke 1.
The elderly parents of John the Baptist were a priest named Zechariah, and his wife Elizabeth, who is a descendant of Aaron, and was unable to conceive.
But the angel Gabriel appeared before Zechariah and told 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” and the angel added that this son “will be great in the side of the Lord” and “bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.”
It would be John the Baptist who baptized Jesus.
In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel appears in the town of Nazareth to a woman named Mary, who is a virgin and is pledged to marry Joseph, a descendant of David. Mary is also related to Elizabeth.
The angel tells Mary that she “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 Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
However, Mary’s confused, and asked the angel: “How will this be – since I am a virgin?” The angel goes on to tell her that the Holy Spirit will come over her and cause her to be impregnated by supernatural means.
This is what has come to be called the immaculate conception. The angel also told Mary that her relative Elizabeth is also going to conceive a child through intervention from the Lord.
In Matthew 1, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream. Naturally, Joseph was concerned at how, Mary, his virgin wife-to-be, could conceive of a child. Joseph had planned to divorce Mary quietly. But the angel told Joseph “do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. The angel went on to tell Joseph that this son will “save his people from their sins.”
The angel also reminded Joseph that all this was to take place to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote in Isaiah 7:14:“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Which means, God with us).”
After the visit from the angel in his dream, Joseph did as the Lord commanded, took Mary as his wife and did not have sexual relations with her until after she had given birth to Jesus.
In Luke 2, we are told about a Roman census being required which caused Mary and Joseph to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. While there, they had nowhere else to stay and had to take up lodging in a manger. Mary gave birth to Jesus.
Out in the nearby fields, shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel appeared to the shepherds and told them that the Messiah had been born.
The angel told the shepherds, “this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Then more angels appeared. The Bible tells us that: “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.'”
In Matthew 2, King Herod heard about a child “born King of the Jews” in Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2).
King Herod decreed that all the male children two years old and under be killed. This fulfilled the words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:15).
But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, warning him, saying: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
This fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet Hosea (Hosea 11:1) and (Exodus 4:22-23).
In Matthew 2, after the death of King Herod, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream while he was in Egypt with Mary and Jesus.
The angel instructed Joseph to take his wife and child back to the land of Israel. They return to the city of Nazareth, where more of the words of the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus Christ the Messiah.