The popular, traditional Christmas carol, Angels We Have Heard On High, points out one the astounding claims made by Christmas — that supernatural beings from God were communicating to humans and celebrating Christ’s birth with them. The New Testament does not make these claims as myths or as tall tales, but as fact. The Christmas events involving angels either actually happened in the real world or didn’t happen. The Bible claim leaves no middle ground.
An angel appeared to priest Zachariah and told him that he and his wife Elizabeth, who was childless and beyond menopause, would have a son and that they were to name him John. (He became John the Baptist) Although Zachariah saw and heard the angel, Zachariah didn’t believe that having a son was possible. John was born 9 months later.
An angel appeared to Mary and told her the outlandish news that she would become pregnant as a virgin and have a supernatural son. Of course, logically, Mary’s fiance, Joseph, didn’t believe her pregnancy was supernatural, so he was going to break the engagement. However, an angel appeared to him in a dream and confirmed to him that her pregnancy was by the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament claims that “a multitude of the heavenly hosts” appeared to some shepherds (who by the way were considered to be among the lowest people in society) announcing and celebrating the birth of Jesus. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, two more times, warning him to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt and then telling them to return to Nazareth.
The New Testament claim of angels even extends beyond the Christmas season. The Book of Acts shows that many of the early Christians saw and/or heard angels. And The Book of Hebrews says angels can appear anytime: “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels without knowing it.” Just think — someone who you or I encountered may have been an angel instead of a human being.
Personally, I am not aware of ever having seen or heard an angel. However, I know several people who have encountered angels. A friend was experiencing a health emergency and a stranger offered to drive her to the emergency room. He walked her into the crowded waiting room and up to the counter. She spoke to the nurse and then turned around to thank the gentleman, but he was gone. She said to the crowd: “Did anyone see where the man who came in with me went?” Several people replied: “You came in alone.”
I believe that the Christmas claim about angels is factual. And I believe that angels are still communicating to and interacting with humans.