Each Christmas, millions of holiday greeting cards are shared by friends and family members. Those of a spiritual nature usually feature angelic choirs, gift-bearing wise men, a baby in a manger, or some other fond image found in the Christmas stories of Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
But we never see Christmas cards based on Revelation’s version of the Christmas story…and we never will.
The versions of the Christmas story found in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 get all the publicity. Their renditions of Emmanuel have inspired dozens of hymns, thousands of theatrical productions, and millions of sermons. Far and away, these two Gospel accounts are the most recognized versions of Jesus’ birth. In fact, most might say they’re the only accounts of Jesus’ birth.
But take a closer look at Revelation 12:1-11. It tells the exact same story…but from a very different perspective.
A great and wondrous 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 his heads. His 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 he might devour her child the moment it 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 desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
And there was war 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 Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame 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.”
Can you imagine opening a Christmas card that featured a woman caught in the pains of childbirth? How about “Merry Christmas!” written above the depiction of a menacing, 7-headed dragon? What…you don’t like scenes of “war” and “death” on your Christmas cards?
Neither does anyone else.
Everyone wants messages of hope, joy, and peace on their Christmas cards. But let us not forget that were it not for the terrifying experiences of this Child, we would have no hope, joy, or peace.
No, Revelation’s version of Jesus’ birth certainly wasn’t the one that inspired the writing of Silent Night…or anything for sale in Hallmark stores. But let this version inspire us to celebrate the great victory our God has given us through His Son Jesus.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)