As noted in an earlier post, the somewhat mystical prologue to John’s gospel has a brief account of Jesus’s birth: the Word became flesh. (John 1:14) Or it may be that John saved his full account of Jesus’s birth for his even more mystical– and eschatological– book of Revelation. It’s worth thinking about at this time of the year anyway.
“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.” (Revelation 12:1-5, NIV) And so forth.
Many interpret this passage of scripture so that the woman is Israel; the dragon is Satan; and the child is Jesus, the Messiah. Some say, though, that the woman should be viewed as Mary.
Did the dragon’s tail sweep away a third of the stars so the Magi could see the one bright star that would lead them to the Christ child? Does Revelation give a more realistic account of birth by saying that the mother cried out in pain?
In Revelation 12:12, we read: “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!” Is that when the angels appeared to the shepherds, singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven?”
Revelation 12:13 says the dragon “pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child,” but did not catch her because of God’s intervention. Does this tie into the Magi refusing to tell Herod where they had found Jesus because Herod wanted to kill him or into the angel telling Joseph to escape to Egypt because Herod was still trying to find baby Jesus?
And when Revelation 12:5 says that the baby was snatched up to God and his throne, is this a precursor to Jesus sitting down on God’s throne after his crucifixion as was discussed in a recent post about Hebrews 12:2?
I don’t know.
But if you want an exciting Christmas story, go to Revelation 12.