Summary: Jesus was born unto us bearing the gift of forgiveness. Shouldn’t we extend that same gift to others?
I want to start this morning by us all singing a verse of Silent night.
That was great. Singing that song probably brought visions of a Nativity scene to your thoughts.. Maybe of one from your childhood over a mantel. Maybe one in front of a church. Usually they all had the same cast of characters; Shepherds, wise men, barnyard animals. And of course Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.. And some even include an angel or two..
What is the feeling you get as you look at the scene?. Doesn’t it feel warm and peaceful. Much like the words to "Silent Night" or even like when you sing ’Away in A Manger’ ? these are nice feelings and probably much of what is was like…..on the surface.
To coin an old phrase….’Looks can be deceiving…
What you don’t have when you look into that nativity scene…is the whole picture. Of what’s really going on behind the scenes. For this we need to turn to Revelations 12. Starting in verse 12.
The Woman and the Dragon
1A 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. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
3Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
4His 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.
5She 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.
7And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
9The 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.
As author Philip Yancey puts it;
I have never seen this version on a Christmas card.
In reality, it was anything but a silent night. This was the beginning of a war. In simple terms….a war between good and evil. Yancey goes on to call The birth of Christ the Great Invasion,
" a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of good into the universe’s seat of evil"
Spiritually speaking, this is no silent night. It is D-Day. Yet it is the key to truly understanding Christmas. Jesus was born to man bearing a gift that would undermine the evil of the world. The gift of forgiveness.
The story continues in verse 17;
17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
You see, Satan was ticked off. Through out history, Satan was bent on destroying Christ before he was born and up till the time that Jesus was born by possessing king heron to slaughter the babies in Bethlehem. This is why Cain killed Abel…to destroy the seed. And if you follow Jesus’ genealogy throughout time, you’ll notice the trials that each person carrying the seed went though. Many life threatening.
So Satan was ticked that he couldn’t do Christ in, so we are now the target. That offspring is us. All of us who choose to obey God. And whether you like it or not, there are no Conscious Objectors in this war. There is no draft dodging or hiding out in the hills till the dust settles. You have one of only two sides to choose from.
But you know what…It’s already written which side wins in the end. And that’s the side I’m on. Which side are you?
However, this is Christmas so I don’t want to get you too down and out . So let me share a story that some of you may have heard before. It is about the Christmas truce that occurred during World War I, on Christmas Eve of 1914, that first year of the War
German and British forces were facing each other on the battlefield, each in their muddy
trenches, separated by a strip of flat, ugly land intersected with barbed wire.
The air was cold and frosty, of course, because it was winter, and things were very quiet. Both sides had to keep alert, however, as there was the odd shadowy figure creeping across the no-man’s land.