This Christmas, with huge numbers of people suffering and dying, putting your faith in little, baby Jesus may seem silly. Counting on the Christ child to help you with your grownup challenges may seem irresponsible.
I will confess that more than once I’ve asked, “Lord, what are you doing? Why aren’t you fixing this?” I’m a pastor, for heaven’s sake. I can only imagine what others, especially skeptics and cynics, are thinking.
I suspect my faith falters are why God brought me to the Bible’s book of Revelation a couple weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been reading and reflecting on a chapter every day.
Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is strange and filled with apocalyptic language. As the name suggests, it reveals profound truth about God’s actions in the world, what’s happening behind the scenes of history, and what is to come. Imagery of beasts and a dragon, angels battling evil, fire and smoke, judgement and destruction, stars crashing, burning sulfur and more, can be startling and difficult to understand.
Deck the halls with beasts and flames, Fa La La La La...! No, that doesn’t sound at all Christmassy!
In the first chapter of Revelation, we see Jesus as the grown-up man who has conquered the cross and ascended to heaven in glory. Jesus is described as:
"...someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance" (Revelation 1:13-16).
Here is Jesus in the fullness of his glory. And here is our ultimate destiny, what is to come. The lamb of God who conquered death and sin and rose to life again now reigns in heaven. The day will come when he absolutely finalizes his victory over Satan, the devil, and his dominions. He will judge the living and the dead. He will vanquish all evil forever.
Revelation reveals the faithful rising with Christ in glory, like angels with their resurrected bodies, safe and secure in God’s love, and worshipping him forever. Jesus will create a new heaven and new earth, and there will be no more pain, suffering, sorrow, tears, disease, or death.
Revelation is complex and my summary inadequate. The bottom line is simple: Jesus wins!
This Christmas, as we worship the Baby of Bethlehem, let us remember that the one wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger is also the ascended and reigning King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is Christ, whose death on the cross defeated sin and death. And he is the One who will come again!
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