What does the Book of Revelation have to do with Christmas? That was the question I posed to the Adult Sunday School class yesterday as we continue our journey through this book. We were looking at Revelation 12, and there John talks about a great sign in the heavens which was a woman who was about to give birth. In this story she gives birth to a boy who is going to be the ruler that God had promised would become the ruler of the nations. This is John’s story of Jesus’ birth.
The account in Revelation includes an element we don’t often see in the Christmas story. John says that there is a Red Dragon who was going to devour this child the moment he was born. Later in the chapter, John describes this Dragon as “that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan.” This is a reminder that Jesus’ birth was opposed by the evil one who sought to destroy him. It reminds us of the story of King Herod and his effort to destroy this one who had been born King of the Jews. A friend of mine, Mike Godwin, has blogged about how his family began a tradition of including a red dragon in their nativity scene—you can read about it here, and it links also to a great account of Revelation 12 and Christmas which was written by my friend and former colleague, Bob Lowery who was an expert on the Book of Revelation.
Remember this season that Jesus’ birth was opposed, as was his ministry. And Jesus was ultimately killed, but he also rose from dead and was vindicated. He won a decisive victory over the schemes of the evil one for which we are all thankful. As John wrote:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.’” (Revelation 12:10-11, NIV)
Next Sunday the choir will be performing some special numbers. My sermon will focus on the city of Bethlehem today, and I’ll be showing pictures from some of my travels in Bethlehem. I hope to see you there, and make sure to invite a friend!