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Do you believe in angels?

I believe I have a guardian angel--several, perhaps. I also believe angels have visited this planet, repeatedly.

Two millennia ago, the largest known visitation of angels to earth announced the very first Christmas.

That we are a visited planet is what Christmas is all about. History is divided before and after this singularly profound event-the birth of Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus? A heavenly messenger? In a sense, yes. Yet He's much, much more.

How radical is the idea behind Christmas? The religious leaders at that time scoffed at the shepherds' report of the angelic announcement of Jesus' birth. They no longer believed in angels. They certainly couldn't imagine God Almighty-creator and governor of the vast universe-humbling Himself to visit planet earth.

Yet the Scriptures clearly foretold this. Among other things, the prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would be born of a virgin and called "Immanuel" (literally, "God with us," Isaiah 7:14) and "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6b).

Furthermore, an angel of the Lord told Joseph, the Messiah's adoptive father: "`Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins'" (Matthew 1:20b-21).

So profound was the incarnation of Jesus Christ that . . . Do you believe in angels?

I believe I have a guardian angel--several, perhaps. I also believe angels have visited this planet, repeatedly.

Two millennia ago, the largest known visitation of angels to earth announced the very first Christmas.

That we are a visited planet is what Christmas is all about. History is divided before and after this singularly profound event-the birth of Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus? A heavenly messenger? In a sense, yes. Yet He's much, much more.

How radical is the idea behind Christmas? The religious leaders at that time scoffed at the shepherds' report of the angelic announcement of Jesus' birth. They no longer believed in angels. They certainly couldn't imagine God Almighty-creator and governor of the vast universe-humbling Himself to visit planet earth.

Yet the Scriptures clearly foretold this. Among other things, the prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would be born of a virgin and called "Immanuel" (literally, "God with us," Isaiah 7:14) and "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6b).

Furthermore, an angel of the Lord told Joseph, the Messiah's adoptive father: "`Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins'" (Matthew 1:20b-21).

So profound was the incarnation of Jesus Christ that thousands-perhaps millions-of angels celebrated it in a very unusual way. In Luke's account of the Christmas story, we read:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. but the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.


Yet shortly thereafter, warned by yet another angel, Jesus' parents fled for their lives from wicked King Herod and settled in an obscure village a day's journey from the tyrant's palace. For several decades after the grand angelic announcement, almost no one outside His home town knew Jesus, let alone grasped His divine identity.

To be certain, Jesus' manner and character impressed many in his town. He epitomized the Jewish ideals of truthfulness, wisdom, reverence, and love. But no one outside a small circle- by A.D. 25 perhaps only His widowed mother-knew He was God become flesh.

Shortly after turning thirty years of age, however, Jesus embarked on a most difficult task-revealing His true identity to a people long convinced God is in His heaven, period.

To the transcendence of God, Jesus revealed God's desire for immanence-nearness to us. How much closer could He have come than by becoming one of us? Not one of us in the usual sense of the word-only human. Rather, one of us in the best sense-human, yet divine. Perfect. Without sin, yet full of emotion. Fully God and at the same time fully man.

I reject the misconception popular in certain pseudo-religious circles that Jesus was passionless, mild, weak. How pathetic-and how utterly unsupported by the earliest historical records, which paint vivid pictures of Jesus' emotions.

Here is a man who loves and rebukes, who laughs and cries. In every circumstance, He plays the part and plays it well. Far from a caricature, we see Jesus four-dimensionally, fully alive in time-space.

This is opposite of all other religions, of course. Instead of man searching (in vain) for the God of eternity, God searches for man in time. Peter Kreeft describes the Lord as "the Hound of Heaven, the divine lover, the Father looking for his prodigal son, the shepherd for his lost sheep." Always knocking on our heart's door. Always seeking entrance into our lives.

Bigger than myth, Jesus made His identity the point of every miracle, every teaching. Why? Because if He truly was (and is) God, someday every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

Not surprisingly, many people have sought to remake Jesus in their (less than divine) image: Jesus as enlightened teacher, Jesus as New Age mystic, Jesus as black Messiah, Jesus as patron saint of Marxist revolutionaries.

Cuban president Fidel Castro says, "I've always considered Christ to be one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of humanity." I couldn't have said it better, but I doubt Castro and I have the same thing in mind.

Jesus wasn't a prototypical Marxist-Leninist. He had no desire to overthrow the oppressive Roman empire by force. Yet because of His death on the cross (Good Friday) and resurrection from the dead three days later (Easter), the Jesus of the Bible can revolutionize your life. I've seen Him miraculously revolutionize marriages, families, even entire communities who have placed their trust in Him.

Nor was Jesus simply a first century wonder-worker. Henk Kamsteeg makes this clear: "God is not David Copperfield. He doesn't do magic shows. Jesus' earthly miracles were pointed and purposeful because they were all related to the kingdom."

In his Gospel, John calls these miracles "signs." Signs of what? That Jesus is truly God-become-man. Signs of God's mercy and power. Signs that demanded a response: do you believe Jesus is God-become-man, or not?

It's not enough to believe in angels, as real as they are. The Lord of heaven's angelic host invites you to join His eternal kingdom, to become one of His sons and daughters, to receive the forgiveness of your sins and the assurance of heaven when you die.

What does it mean to truly believe in the Lord Jesus? How can you express that inner choice? By praying a short prayer of faith, in your heart, like this one:

"Thank you, Lord, for sending Your angels to announce the wonderful news when You were born on the first Christmas so many years ago. Thank You for stirring my own heart to believe the good news of Good Friday and Easter, too. By Your death, You've paid the penalty for my sins. Thanks to Your resurrection, I gladly receive the hope of eternal life. Please come into my heart. I love You and will serve You all the days of my life."
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