My wife collects nativity sets. We have a number of beautiful nativities from all around the world set up in our house. This picture is the nativity set I bought before Jenny and I got married. I searched Amazon for the perfect set, because I wanted to make a special addition to it. That addition was a dragon.
Why do I think a dragon has a place in a nativity?
I thought a dragon was an important addition to the nativity because of the cryptic telling of Jesus’ birth in Revelation 12:
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days (verses 1-6; ESV).
This passage isn’t easy to understand, but one truth we can understand from it is that there was more activity going on that first Christmas than Jesus being born. There was spiritual activity that remained hidden from human sight. From this passage in Revelation it appears that there was a cosmic battle that took place around Christmas. We see a glimpse of this war when we read about the the angelic army that visited the shepherds in Luke 2, but that is the closest we come to seeing the angelic conflict.
The reason why I think it is important to remember the Dragon at Christmas is because it reminds us that there was a specific reason Jesus came to earth. Jesus came to end the rebellion against God that the Dragon began, a rebellion that we have joined through our sin.
To end this rebellion required defeating the Dragon, sin, and death. In His victory over the Dragon, Jesus rescues us from the dominion of darkness and brings us into God’s kingdom.
The Dragon also reminds us that darkness and evil continue to linger in this world. It against this dark backdrop that the light of God’s love can be clearly seen. As we move forward in love, generosity, and compassion we work against the actions of the Dragon.
According to Jesus this Dragon wants to steal, kill, and destroy God’s wonderful creation. He is only interested in corrupting the good creation God made. The Good News is that God has not allowed the Dragon to have his way. At Christmas we celebrate God’s choice to fight against the Dragon and bring redemption to His world!
The ironic thing is that this victory ultimately comes, not through the might of God’s power and army, but through His love and sacrifice. It is the helpless baby in the manger who finally slays the Dragon and brings freedom and life to people.
This has all the makings of a mythic story. A great story that we are still living out today.