In Revelation 12, John describes the story of Christmas as a woman clothed with the sun, moon, and twelve stars, crying out in labor, getting ready to give birth. And there is a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns standing before the woman ready to devour her child as soon as it is born. The woman brings forth a Son, a child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child is immediately caught up to God and to his throne. But now a war breaks out in heaven, and the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan was cast out to the earth and there was great rejoicing in heaven because the Accuser was cast down.
We don’t usually read Revelation 12 at Christmas and you don’t usually see nativity scenes with Mary and Joseph in a stable and giant red dragon with seven heads and ten horns waiting outside – but maybe we should. John is telling the story from a heavenly perspective, with certain features revealed that are usually hidden to our eyes. But notice that John is also collapsing much of the story: the Child is born and the Child is caught up to God in an instant. In this way, we can see that the Great Red Dragon was not only behind Herod but also behind Pontius Pilate and the murderous Jews. And in a somewhat striking way, the birth of Jesus leads directly to the ascension of Jesus. The point seems to be that the birth of Jesus guaranteed the rest. If Jesus was born, then He was most certainly born the Child King.
As we gather for worship this morning, remember that there is far more going on than we can see. By faith, we are in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and we are gathered before the Lamb who was slain, the Child King, the Ancient of Days, with myriads of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. We do not gather here as the accused because the Accuser has been cast down out of heaven; the One born in Bethlehem cast Him out. So we confess our sins, sing our hymns, offer our prayers, hear the Word proclaimed, and gather around the Table as the beloved children of God, eager to be in fellowship with our Father and with one another, and most welcome.
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