WOWED BY A WIDE-LENS VIEW OF CHRISTMAS BY A STUDY OF THE REFERENCES TO CHRISTMAS/INCARNATION OF CHRIST BY OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS APART FROM MATTHEW AND LUKE
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
Different writers of the Bible used various styles and imagery to describe the Christmas story. Using Holy Spirit-inspired colors they painted the Christmas Story in a wide range of colors! Yes, Matthew and Luke narrated the historic Christmas story. But other New Testament writers – notably Paul, John and the Hebrews-author – go back to the same Christmas event and explain its theological meanings and implications. Let us look at Christmas using a wide-lens, taking into account the writings of as many different New Testament writers as possible!
Not just Luke and Matthew. Paul, John, and the Hebrews-writer talk about Christmas! We have a mention of Christmas even in the book of Revelation! This article focusses on the non-Matthew, non-Luke stories of Christmas!
Paul described Christmas this way: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman..” (Gal. 4:4). For Paul, Christmas was all about the impeccable TIMING. Jesus came to the planet at the time designed by the Trinity. If God came to the earth as a sinless, perfect human at the right time, he knows the right time to remove that sickness you are presently enduring and give you the promotion you are eagerly expecting! We must learn to salute the Sovereignty of God who is always “on time” when it comes to working miracles on our behalf even though, at times, he may be “four days late” (John 11:39) (as one song-writer memorably put it).
The miracle that God has planned for you, will come at the ‘right time’ – God’s time!
John portrayed Christmas this way: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling (tabernacle) among us…” (John 1:14). For John, Christmas was about the TABERNACLE. This world is not our home and we just tabernacling – passing – through this world! As Jonathan Edwards put it, we go about our earthly tenure with ‘eternity stamped on our eyeballs’.
The Hebrews-writer envisioned Christmas this way: “Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil…” (Heb. 2:14). For the Hebrews-writer, Christmas was all about TERROR-REMOVAL. Jesus was born so that he would die and rise again and thereby open the door to remove the commonest fear among humans – the fear of death. And to die, he needed flesh and blood like us, humans. And during the first Christmas, he chose to cloth himself with flesh and blood! So no fear needs to grip us – the fear of an examination, the fear of a job-loss, the fear of another crippling pandemic, the fear of not being up-to-the-mark in the responsibilities given to us, the fear of …. !
Christmas happened that our fear of death will be gone! Hebrews-writer’s point!
John wrote again about Christmas choosing another thing to focus upon in 2 John. He wrote there: ‘For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist’ (2 John 7). For him, here, Christmas was all about TRUTH-GAURDING. By being born in the flesh – born as a baby into our planet – Jesus was showcasing the importance of the human body. The one who filled the universe would now live inside the body of a woman – her womb! And once he came out of her womb, he would exist in a human body coping with all its restrictions of having to be in one place at one time (something that was strange for the God who was everywhere present)! The human body cannot become a playground for sexual immorality. If you did not believe in Christmas – God’s coming in the flesh – then it would not be a big deal for you to indulge the flesh! So, if you really believed in Christmas, you will motivation to live a sexually pure life! That was John’s point in 2 John.
John was not tired of writing about Christmas time and again! He kept coming back to Christmas to expound the theological implications of Christ as the Spirit of God prodded him to. He gives us a peek of Christmas in Revelation 12, I believe: the Sun-clothed woman’s baby was about to be devoured by Satan the moment he was born (Rev. 12:4). Remember how Herod tried to finish off the new born baby Jesus? This Revelation 12 male child, obviously Jesus, was “destined to rule the nations” (Rev. 12:5). Satan also was keen on waging an ongoing battle with the “rest of the children” of the sun-clothed woman (Rev. 12:17). The rest of the children of the sun-clothed – symbolic of believers and Christ-followers – were to hang in there for 1260 days in the wilderness (Rev. 12:14). 1260 days! Does the number ring a bell? It certainly rang a bell among the original readers of John’s letter! They knew that was a code word used by the apostles often to remind believers of those days to become more and more like the One who ministered on this earth for 1260 days, i.e. three and half years – even Jesus! So, the call of Christmas, from John, from Revelation 12 is that of a TRANSFORMATION – a call to be transformed in character like Jesus’ character, more and more in our “wilderness” journey!
The Sun-clothed woman story narrated in Revelation 12 is a Christmas Story, according to me, calling us to become more and more like Jesus!
Using the “flood” from his mouth Satan (see Rev. 12:15) will try to drown believers. That reminds me of the “flood” of false teaching Satan has unleashed using the mouths of false-teachers who have surrendered their mouths to him. Using those Satan-inspired mouths the teach hell-populating teaching like hyper-grace, immortality on earth, hyper-supernaturalism, etc. to drown believers. John writes, ‘But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth to swallow up the river that had poured from the dragon’s mouth’ (Rev. 12:16). This is simply another way of saying that one day the earth will open up and swallow Satan-inspired false-teachers the way it opened up and swallowed Korah and his rebellion gang in the Old Testament. It is an imagery of judgment: earth opening up and swallowing. It points to the hell-destination of false teachers and those who buy their theology, I believe. So understanding this seemingly-complex-yet-simple imagery of Revelation 12 brings us back to the message of TRUTH-GAURDING. Obeying the commands of God – holding onto the written Word of God and making it our basis for all matters of belief and behaviour – and holding onto our testimony – testimony via life and lips – is what enrages Satan, John writes he wraps his ‘Christmas’ commentary in the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:17). Let’s celebrate a Christmas where the focus is not on being ENTERTAINED by SANTA CLAUS but on ENRAGING SATAN!
Revelation 12’s thrust about Christmas brings us to this: Christmas is not about being ENTERTAINED by Santa Claus but about ENRAGING SATAN by safe-gaurding ourselves from false teachings he brings via false teachers/pastors/brothers!!!
This wide-lens view of Christmas is wow, isn’t it? This Christmas take time to read, meditate, chew, non-typical Christmas chapters such as Revelation 12, 2 John, Galatians 4, John 1, etc.!
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, a Agri. Engineer turned M. Div. Gold Medallist and Doctor Of Ministry Graduation Speaker, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a para-church ministry to present-day people functioning from Chennai. God has graciously opened doors for him to preach in over 20 Indian states and in a few other nations right from the first time Duke preached, as a school boy of 16, in the year 1991. He has authored three books: Straight Talk (Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, Phone Addiction, married-sex, etc., – what the Bible says), Daniel in Dell (practical study of the book of Daniel for modern working professionals), Goodnews for the Google Generation (the Gospel presented the way Jesus did in Luke 13 and the way Paul did in Acts 17). Reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp, +91-8886040605, in case you want to buy these or have a question. Duke is married to Evangelin, a Odisha Missionary’s daughter, and this couple are blessed with two children – Dale, 19, who is a student of St. Stephens College, Delhi, and Datasha, 15, who studies Class X. This article was published in the December 2022 edition of Aim magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke’s ministry, the G4 Mission is a reader-supported ministry).