An Iron Rod in a Baby's Hand
Scripture Reading — Revelation 11:19-12:6
She gave birth to a son
who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.
Revelation 12:5 —
Preachers struggle to make the Christmas story fresh for their listeners. How do you retell a 2,000-year-old account so that it enters peoples’ lives with fresh energy?
Maybe John had a similar problem as he wrote about Jesus’ birth many years after Matthew and Luke had written their accounts. John actually wrote about Jesus’ birth twice. John 1:14—his first report—was simple in form but complex in meaning: Jesus, the baby of Bethlehem, was the Word who became flesh! That was enough to get first-century heads spinning.
John’s second report is in Revelation 12. As John assures suffering Christians of Christ’s all-powerful reign, he inserts this scene to portray how that reign began: a baby was born to a woman on the run. The woman is the nation of Israel, pictured in terms of the sun, moon, and stars (see also Genesis 37:9). She is running from a hideous dragon, symbolic of Satan himself, who wants to devour her baby. But when the child is born, he is whisked quickly into God’s protection so that he can later reign over all the nations.
We don’t often hear this version of the story, especially at Christmastime. But this drama shows in another way how God was busy working to save us from sin and death. (See also Psalm 2.) This baby will one day be the unquestioned ruler of all nations!
Savior of the nations, let us see you again this season. Banish all our fears with the news of your perfect rule! Help us see all the ways you are at work in our world today. Amen.