Rising to the Occasion

What the Angels Said About the Manger and the Tomb

Last year a man told me of patrolling a dangerous patch of ground in a foreign war. A voice behind him spoke clearly: “Stop! Take one step back!” He complied. He felt a tug at his left sleeve and heard the crack of gunfire. He later found a bullet hole in his sleeve and realized the voice saved his life. He’s convinced it was an angel.

The Bible is heavily populated with angels. All four Gospels contain references to angels, for there was a lot of angelic activity during the earthly life and ministry of Christ. Two angelic announcements are very dramatic in the Gospels—at the birth and at the resurrection of Christ. Luke 2 and Matthew 28 say:

  • Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
  • Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.

Notice the similarities of these pronouncements, which were made 33 years apart:

First, both announcements are succinct. The birth announcement runs 60 words in the English. The resurrection announcement runs 66 words. It takes about 20 seconds to read either one of them. When we become Christ-followers, we can tell people in precise terms what has happened to us. The blind man healed by Jesus in John 9 had the simplest testimony of all. He said, “I can’t explain much about it but one thing I know, I once was blind, but now I see.”

Second, both statements contain a “behold.” This is a great old Bible word that means to look at something with attention, to see something other people are missing. When the Bible says, “Behold!” it means: “Don’t miss this!” When we become Christ-followers, we discover what others are missing. We take in the most important things in life, things that will matter in the long run.

Third, both announcements begin with the words: Do not be afraid. The Christmas angel said: Do not be afraid, for I bring… The Easter angel said: Do not be afraid for I know…. Back in the days when everyone read the King James Version, the words were: “Fear not.” In earlier generations, people would study the Bible’s 75 “fear nots.” Books were published on the “fear nots” of Scripture. When we become Christ-followers we have access to all the “fear nots” in the Bible. This doesn’t mean you’ll never again have a moment of fright ; but it does mean you’ll have an entire armory to use against the fears and phobias that come against you. The fears of life cannot prevail against the “fear nots” of God

Fourth, both announcements invite us to come see where Jesus lay. When did any press secretary or government herald invite you into the monarch’s bedroom or to the presidential living quarters? Yet the angels said: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger…. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. It’s likely the manger was hewn of stone from a rock, a miniature version of the tomb. Jesus began and ended His earthly life by being wrapped tightly wounded clothing and laid in a stone enclosure, where He slept until awakened to do His Father’s will.

Fifth, both announcements identify Jesus as “Lord.” When we become Christ-followers, we recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. We turn the control of our lives over to Him.

Sixth, both announcements invite us to meet Jesus up close and personal. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.… And: He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Notice the words: “You will find… You will see Him.” As Christ followers we have the opportunity to see and know the Lord in a personal and life-changing and eternal way.

Seventh, both statements resulted in the listeners hurrying away to see Jesus and thereafter to spread the news to others. And that’s what we’re still doing today. He rose to the occasion to give us heaven and eternal life. Isn’t it time we heeded the voice of angels, the message of Scripture, and the call of God? Let Jesus take control of your life. For as Hebrews 2 says, “If the message spoken by angels was binding… how shall we escape if we neglect to great a salvation?”

–To hear this message or read the entire text, visit the website of The Donelson Fellowship (www.donelson.org) and select the sermon tab.