The Humble King Who Rules the Nations: A Christmas Meditation
(by Dr. J. Mark Beach, professor of Dogmatics and Ministerial Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, author of "Piety's Wisdom: A Summary of Calvin's Institute" and "Christ and the Covenant")
Christmas hardly has a chance nowadays! The community of unbelief has trampled underfoot the meaning of Immanuel - God with us. The community of faith, of course, still knows the meaning of Christmas. Luke 2 - the more earthly perspective on Christmas - shows us David's descendants (Mary and Joseph) scurrying off to Bethlehem because the Roman king ordered them to do so. Caesar taxes them to oppress them. It's a story of humiliation and obscurity which highlights the ordinary humanness of Christ's birth, of God come in the flesh, even amidst the stench of a barn.
By contrast, Revelation 12 - the more heavenly perspective on Christmas - presents David's descendents (the woman about to give birth) shining forth with the glory of the celestial bodies and crowned as royalty. She gives birth to the Ruler of all nations, the Seed of the woman who crushes the head of the Serpent. Here we witness the power and divinity of this birth. Luke's swaddled infant is Revelation's head-stomping Sovereign.
So what is Christmas? Does it still have a chance? Against the voice of unbelief Scripture gives us two perspectives to console us and to consign us to action. Our Savior walks with us in humility in order to bring us to glory. The newborn lying in a feed-trough is the Savior-King who heals the nations - even you!