The Untold Story of Christmas
Dr. Jim Denison
Over the years that I have been a preacher, I have presented many messages as monologues. I have been Joseph, Mary’s husband; a shepherd at Christmas; I’ve been the thief on the cross; Samuel of the Old Testament; the innkeeper in Bethlehem; even a Wise Man. But I’ve never strained the borders of incredulity more than today, for this day I wish to speak to you as an angel. Not a fallen angel (more appropriate type casting, many would say), but one of God’s heavenly host.
I’d like us to view Christmas through the eyes of an angel who first announced the birth of the Messiah. I want us to see this event, its history, and its significance as one of those heavenly messengers might have seen it all. Let’s listen to his story, and see what it says to ours.
The ministry of angels
Good morning. My name is Malkiah. I am one of God’s angels, sent today as his messenger to you. I can see that you are surprised. Don’t be. This is what we angels do, more often than you might imagine. I’m sure you’ve met some of my colleagues before—you just didn’t know it at the time. But more of that in a moment.
For those of you who are not familiar with angels, perhaps a little introduction is in order.
“Angel” means “messenger,” for this is our ministry. The Holy God created us to worship him and to lead others to worship him. To proclaim his love, justice, and grace to his creation, across all time and eternity.
We are much more common than you might think—we’re mentioned 108 times in your Old Testament, and 165 in your New Testament. David wrote in your Psalm 68 that we number “tens of thousands” (v. 17); John’s Revelation numbered us as 10,000 times 10,000; our Creator said that we are as many as the stars in his heavens (Job 38:7).
We were present at the creation of the universe (Job 38:7). We talked with Abraham, and delivered Lot and his family from Sodom (Genesis 18-19); we appeared to Jacob (Genesis 28:12); we called Moses to deliver the Jews from Egypt (Exodux 3:2,10) and led Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 14:19; 23:20). We led judges such as Gideon and Manoah, protected Daniel from the lions, and appeared often to the prophets.
In your New Testament we freed the apostles from prison (Acts 5:19), directed Philip to Samaria (8:26) and Cornelius to Peter (10:1-7), delivered Peter from prison (12:5-11), and encouraged Paul at sea (27:23-25). We are present all through John’s Revelation, in worship and proclamation.
And most important of all, we worked with the Lord Jesus all through his ministry on earth. We announced his birth to Mary, and led Joseph to make her his wife and raise Jesus as his son. We led Joseph to save Mary from Herod, and to settle in Galilee.
We ministered to the Lord in his temptations by the enemy, and protected and empowered him all through his ministry. We strengthened him in Gethsemane. We rolled away the stone at his resurrection, and announced his return to life. We were present at his ascension back to the Father, and promised his Second Coming to your planet.
And we will come back with him when he returns (Matthew 25:31); we will gather together his people and judge all mankind (Matthew 13:41-42); we will defeat Satan once and for all (Revelation 12:7-9); and we will spend eternity in the worship of Jehovah God.
The grace of angels
All through eternity, our purpose has been one of grace. We exist to help you do what you cannot do without us. To guide you, guard you, empower you, lead you to God and to the abundant life he wants for you. God created us to bring you his grace.
And the single greatest mistake I have watched you humans make all through your history is to reject that grace. To live your lives as though there were no God; to be independent, self-reliant, self-determined. To do life in your own way, and expect God to bless it. To choose works, while God chooses grace.
It was so in the beginning, with Adam and Eve. They knew God’s will, but chose to ignore it. They chose their own power, their own ambitions, their own desires. They chose to become their own gods, rejecting the grace of their Creator. And our God had to send us to drive them from Eden and bar their way to the tree of life. Even this was an act of grace—to keep them from living forever in their fallen state. They chose works, but God chose grace.
Abraham chose to sire a son by Hagar rather than waiting on God’s grace through Sarah. We were sent to offer grace to Hagar, comforting her and saving the life of her son Ishmael. To this day there is conflict in that region of the world between the two sons of Abraham. All because they chose works, while God chose grace.
In your New Testament the Sadducees arrested the apostles for preaching the truth, making themselves to be their judges and gods, choosing the works of legalism. We freed those preachers and sent them back into the temple courts to preach the grace of God (Acts 5:17-21). The religious leaders chose works, while God chose grace.
Still later King Herod jailed Peter, intending to execute that servant of God to please the religious authorities. But we freed Peter to preach his message of forgiveness and grace to the world, and brought just condemnation upon the King who refused the grace of God (Acts 12:1-19, 23). The king chose works, while God chose grace.
The grace of Christmas
But we never brought the message of God’s grace more powerfully to earth than on that night 2006 years ago in Bethlehem. Our Lord had been planning since the creation of the world for this great day.