(Guest Post by: Pastor Dan Morris) Blogmas Day Twenty-Three
When you think of Christmas, you probably think of Luke’s version of the story. Luke tells of angels singing at midnight, shepherds gathering around baby Jesus in a manger, and Mary treasuring and pondering all these things in her heart.
Or perhaps you think of Matthew’s version of the birth. Matthew takes a scholarly approach, showing how Jesus’ birth fulfilled ancient prophecies. He also tells us of mysterious magicians from the east who found their way to Jesus by reading the signs in the sky.
It’s all so sweet, comforting, and lovely.
So lovely that you likely have the whole nativity scene memorialized on your mantle—complete with sheep, cows, hay, and maybe even a little drummer boy off to the side.
But have you ever pondered the other nativity story in the Bible? The one with the red dragon?
He was there that night, you know. Right there alongside the sheep and cows. Right there in the stall with Mary and Joseph. Like the wise men, the red dragon had followed the signs and found the newborn Christ-child. No nativity scene is complete without him. You might even say that the red dragon is the reason for the season because if it weren’t for him, Jesus would never have had to be born.
Let me explain.
In Revelation 12—the other nativity story—we glimpse Jesus’ birth from behind-the-scenes. Unlike the brightness at midnight as the angelic chorus sang to the shepherds, this version of the story is dark and mysterious. It’s an other-world experience that takes us from the physical world into the presence of angels, spirits, demons, monsters, and a red dragon. It’s so enchanted that our minds can barely grasp the images we see, much less comprehend their significance in our lives.
The birth story of Revelation 12 is not the kind of story you tell your children on Christmas Eve just before bed. It’s more like the stories you tell around a campfire late at night when you want to send shivers down the spines of all who listen.
In this version of the story, we read of a pregnant woman crying out in agony as she gives birth. Our ears ring from her screams, and if we let our imaginations fill in the details, we can see the sweat on her forehead, the birthing blood in the straw, and the panicked look on Joseph’s face.
And we can see the dragon.
We can see the red dragon with its seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns. We see him crouching in the hay, looking on as the woman pushes the baby into this world. But the dragon isn’t there to worship, celebrate, or deliver gifts of gold or myrrh. The dragon is there, waiting to devour the child as soon as it’s born; to eat the infant so that God’s plan might be stopped. After all, this child is to be the Savior of the World. The “one who is to rule all the nations,” something the dragon wants for himself.
The scene is grotesque and gruesome. It’s meant to turn our stomachs and send fear into our souls. But it’s intended to give hope as well. The instant the boy is born, just as the dragon is opening his mouth to devour him, this child-king is swept up to the heavenly throne room to be with God. And with the dragon distracted, the woman makes her escape to a place prepared by God for her protection. It’s not an easy getaway, however. In a chase scene that rivals any Hollywood ever produced, the woman miraculously eludes the dragon—but only with the help of a great eagle and the earth itself.
The dragon is foiled, and he’s angry.
Instead of giving up, he doubles down. He sounds the battle cry to rally his forces. War is declared, and swords clash. Angel fights angel. Evil squares off against good. It’s spiritual warfare in its truest sense. The great red dragon, “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world,” tries to claim the throne. But when he can’t take that prize, he turns his wrath toward the woman’s descendants; you and me.
His hatred is desperate and fierce, but, as this nativity story makes clear, heaven’s victory is inevitable. And suddenly, the war is over almost as quickly as it began. Satan is thrown out of heaven, soon to be locked up, tossed in the bottomless pit of fire, and destroyed for all eternity.
That’s when a heavenly voice declares, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down . . . and they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them!”
It’s quite the story.
It’s probably not one you’ll hear at this year’s Christmas Eve candlelight service. But you should. This is the true story of Christmas. It’s the reason the angels sang to the shepherds at midnight, and the Magi brought gifts to the infant. It’s the reason Christ was born.
This story tells us that a war is raging in the spiritual realm, with you as the victory prize. It’s the story of God’s love for you. It reminds us that every tear we shed, every death we experience, and every sorrow or pain we endure is temporary. It tells us that the terrible things we see on our TVs and read about in our newsfeeds are reflections of the furious battle over our souls taking place in that other world—the real world.
So, this year when you sing Silent Night, remember that the night isn’t all that silent. When you pause to give thanks for baby Jesus, remember to give thanks for our King doing battle with a dragon. And this year, when you place your manger scene on the mantle, look for the red dragon. He’s there in the hay.
Soon to be defeated.
NOTE: Pastor Dan Morris is a dear friend of ours that we did ministry with in Fort Worth, Texas! If you would like to check out what he is doing at Lighthouse Fellowship, please click here: https://lfwired.org/