This story combines angels foretelling the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist. Angels actually appear 3 times in the scriptures to foretell the events leading up to Jesus' birth:
Note that each time the angel appeared to someone, their first reaction was to be afraid. But the angels quickly calm them.
The Angel Appears to Zechariah
Zechariah was a priest who worked in the temple and was married to a woman named Elizabeth (who was a relative of Mary). Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have any children because they were well along in years (meaning "really old").
The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple to tell him that he and his wife would have a son, and that they were to call him John. Gabriel told him that John would be special and that he would prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
Zechariah questioned the angel, not believing that this could happen since he and Elizabeth were so old. Because of his unbelief, Gabriel made him unable to speak until John was born.
The Angel Appears to Mary
Six months after the angel appeared to Zechariah, Gabriel went to Nazareth to visit Mary. Gabriel told Mary that she had found favor with God and that she would be giving birth to the Messiah.
She didn't understand how this could happen since she was a virgin, but the angel told her that Jesus would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Notice that Gabriel did not rebuke Mary for asking the question as he did Zechariah. We can't exactly know why, but it is apparent that they received this news with different hearts. Gabriel then told Mary that Elizabeth was also pregnant. So Mary went to visit Elizabeth.
The Angel Appears to Joseph
Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. When she was found to be with child, Joseph planned to divorce her quietly. During those days, an engagement was as binding as a marriage. No on would have questioned Joseph terminating his relationship with Mary under those circumstances.
An angel appeared to Joseph to reassure him and tell him not to divorce Mary as she would give birth to a baby named Jesus who would save his people from their sins.
For younger children: Does anyone know why we celebrate Christmas?
For older children: Have you ever had a cold and lost your voice so you were unable to talk? Was it hard to communicate? Listen in our Bible story for someone who was unable to talk for a while.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?