Ok, let me start with a question. What do you love about the Christmas season? Is it the lights, the decorations, the smell of fresh fudge or holiday cookies in the oven? Is it the great anticipation of family and friends gathered around a large table eating, talking, and laughing. Is it the twinkle in the eyes of your Uncle Ted as you receive that special gift from him? Is it the excitement of your children when they walk into the living room and see the gifts under the tree? Even if this season brings hard memories, there is typically something that you enjoy about it…what is it?
Now, and I need you to be honest here…did any of you say Jesus? The vast majority of you probably didn’t, or at the very least, it wasn’t at the top of your list. And you know what….that’s ok…for now. Remember what I wrote earlier, Satan has stolen this holiday from us, and no, I’m not just talking about people beating each other up over Black Friday deals…I’m talking about the religious fog that has drifted into our minds and hearts about what really happened that day! The day that Jesus was born.
But back to why hardly any of you said Jesus was your favorite reason for this season…why do you think that is? Why do we feel more emotion and joy from friends, family, and food than we do the coming of our Savior, Jesus? It’s a great question to ponder, and I pray that you will do so, but permit me to offer up an answer.
Because we don’t see any real power in “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Yes, I know, we intellectually acknowledge the power of Jesus birth, the miracle, the angels, and the shepherds…whole bit. but we are missing much of the story. Remember, what we can see (or what they saw over 2000 years ago) is only part of the story. Let me take you back to that day.
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
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.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” – Revelation 12:1-17
John, through the Holy Spirit gives us a glimpse into the happenings in the spiritual realm that day. Yes, this passage speaks of the fall of Satan from his heavenly post, and his mission from then on to hold captive the wondrous creation that God had made here on earth. But we are also given a glimpse into the true Christmas story…and it wasn’t “Away in a Manger!”
Here we see that Satan was cast down to the earth…elsewhere in scripture Satan is called the “Prince of this World.” (John 16:11,John 12:31, John 14:30) This is his home turf, the world, the earth is his domain. So when the coming of Jesus is about to go down, the Evil One is not too excited to just sit by and let it to happen. We read in verse 2-5 and then again in 13-17 of a woman and a child. It’s obvious by the names given to the child that it is Jesus. And I can almost bet that we can correlate the dates and times of the woman and child fleeing to the wilderness as their movement to Egypt and back to Nazareth, and Herod’s genocide of innocent babies (Matthew 2:13-23). As if the dreams that Joseph had, and the reasons why they were given to him are not indication enough! There is SO much more to this story than what we see in the movies about the birth of Jesus!
Now this is my own personal speculation, but I don’t think it’s too far fetched. If you look at the interaction between the angels and the shepherds in Luke 2:11-15, the NIV calls them “A great number” of the heavenly hosts…but the more literal translations use the word “multitude” to describe the number of angels that showed up to praise God. The word multitude literally means too many to count. What really happened the day that Jesus was born was the equivalent of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy during World War 2. It was the great invasion of the Kingdom of God into the Kingdom of darkness. Jesus literally went behind enemy lines as a baby! Again, this is no precious baby Jesus; this is the God of angel armies emptying all of heaven of all the heavenly hosts to protect the coming of the great and glorious King of Kings. And indeed when the first mission was a success, “Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!”
Are your eyes opening? Do you see it now? Christmas is much more than giving and receiving gifts, spending time with family and friends, and even more than the religious stuff we do during this season, though there is nothing inherently wrong with those, that is unless you let them take over your focus in this season. Christmas is about the promise that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. It is the beginning fulfillment in the larger redemptive story that the Christ will usher in. Without this invasion of the Kingdom, there would be no Easter Sunday. Without this Jesus going behind enemy lines as a baby, we would still be dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-5), without hope and without God in this world (Ephesians 2:12)! There would be no Kingdom, there would be no Church, there would be no movement, no good news! Amen, the fog is lifting!