With today being the Sunday before Christmas, numerous pastors will be preaching on the first advent of Christ. The birth of Jesus will be read and explained today from various passages. While the facts never vary, there can be different angles taken in presenting the glory of the coming of Christ. However, what is unavoidable is the gospel. You simply cannot miss the gospel when reading and preaching these texts (or any text of Scripture).
Though there are many angles that could be taken with regard to the absolute truth of Christ’s coming, there is one that I absolutely loved to read. D.A. Carson discusses the coming of Christ from Revelation 12 and his version of the birth story includes a dragon, which is, well, pretty awesome; not to mention theologically significant. In Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, Carson exposits Revelation 12:1-9 and beautifully describes the impact and force of the Satanic rage against Christ and his coming. I have enjoyed reading this book so far and it is passages like the following that make Carson a true gift to the Church. In this excerpt (p. 84), you will see the importance and eternal impact of dragons, Christmas, and the glory of Christ:
The scene is grotesque. The dragon stands in front of the woman. She is lying there in labor. Her feet are in the stirrups, writhing as she pushes to give birth, and this disgusting dragon is waiting to grab the baby as it comes out of the birth canal and then eat it (12:4). The scene is meant to be grotesque: it reflects the implacable rage of Satan against the arriving Messiah.
Do we not know how this works out in historical terms? The first bloodbath in the time of Jesus takes place in the little village of Bethlehem — in the slaughter of the innocents as Herod tries to squash this baby’s perceived threat to his throne.
Jesus is saved by Joseph, who is warned by God in a dream and flees to Egypt. Herod, in a rage, “gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16). Satan later manifests his rage against Jesus in the temptation, and he manifests his rage against the church in every temptation. Satan’s rage manifests itself when some people try to push Jesus over a cliff, and others take up stones to stone him. Satan is after Jesus and wants to destroy him by any means possible.
Behind all these attempts to destroy Jesus is the red dragon, and behind the red dragon is God himself, bringing to pass his purposes even in the death of his Son to bring about our redemption.