What to my wondering eyes should appear…High and lifted up. Exalted above all the other Christmas decorations…..but a large, inflatable dragon.
It gazed forward like a doe eyed Cub Scout peddling fundraiser popcorn. A candy cane was in it’s mouth, with a second one in it’s hand as if grandmother’s draconian decree of “only one!” had just passed ineffectively out of it’s other ear. A cute Santa hat sat askew upon its head, cocked like the ear of a playful pup.
This air bloated lawn ornament conveyed no impression of a smoky winged serpent battling St. George, nor of the fanged smelter that would melt men’s hearts with fear; evoking feelings of hopelessness, despair, and destruction.
Rather, there was the aroma of whimsy and warmth, mixed with fudge and ham and raucous laughter, wafting out of doors and windows which were slightly ajar to relieve the heat of feasting. But, now my hand is tipped slightly and you see the play I am making.
At first, I was angry, as it seemed an affront to the birth of Christ. Another attempt to devour the effect of the Child; another opportunity to harangue the tired Woman. This, I said, was just more proof of Satan’s quest to sabotage the burgeoning kingdom of Heaven.
How, possibly, is a dragon related to Christmas? First, the evergreen tree, then jolly old Saint Nick, now this dragon. What type of devilish espionage was this that dragons were becoming part of our Christmas heritage? Was this merely a finger in the bride’s eye? Was this his latest tactic to seize the throne; a Trump-like 4-D chess move that in the end would leave all observers slack jawed with their palms to their heads? Would the nations flow to him, bowing at his feet open handed to receive the kingdoms of the world?
From the day he was demoted from prince to dog, Satan, an archetypal bloodhound, sniffed and bayed down the dusty trail of the scarlet thread, hoping to tree and kill his quarry, the prophesied Seed. This he would finally do. He would tree and kill the Seed. But the fruits of his labors would indeed be not what he expected. Listen to the laughter. In providential irony, you hear God’s laughter at rebellion.
Meanwhile, back to the pride of Satan, who thought of all the contingencies and covered every jot and tittle of his insurrection. Cain would kill his brother and that promise of the skull crusher would be rendered null within the first generation!
But Seth, given to Eve from God….
What if Sarah could be impregnated by someone else…? Haha! An Egyptian, no less!
Aaaaaah! This red man Esau. He could give Jacob the Cain treatment…!
Judah, from whom The King would come, what if he and his daughter-in-law…..
Whoah! Didn’t see that coming!
The line of Christ?! Really?
Fine! While Israel is locked up outside of the promised land, he would kill off all the baby boys!
Well, a prostitute can’t possibly….
What?! King David’s great, great grandmother!? Even with the Moabitess in there? Surely that thing with Lot and his daughter should have caused more damage than that?
Well, what if this great king stole a woman from her husband, whom he killed, and…..
On it went until the king of kings, who lived in a city made with hands called Rome, wanted to number his people. Why does Herod rage, and Augustus count in vain?
The schemer now held the high ground. Satan surely thought he was close to devouring his prey when the Son became incarnate. Now God was “touchable”! He could be afflicted. He was already utterly humiliated in His enfleshment, His disgusting entrance into the world involving blood and excrement and a complete lack of fanfare.
There it was again. That loud laugh of derisive irony. No matter.
Aside from that “multitude of heavenly host” thing, which nobody witnessed but a few sheepherders and their bunch of filthy animals, this whole spectacle was a sham and failure. Come on! That star was nothing but a bulls eye for Herod the Great, not so named for his marksmanship as he was a few hundred miles off target. Eliminating this Messiah with a buck shot approach was no more successful than the ancient attempt in Egypt, which is where, more laughter, the target was at the moment!
Finally, the day came when Immanuel was weak under His wilderness testing. Fish in a barrel! That first Adam with all his pomp and glory fell like a house of cards. This would be a piece of cake. This Adam was without a suitable helper…in a wasteland…under the curse of sin. Now was the perfect time for the devil to strike his fatal blow.
The devil decided he needed to work a bit on the mechanics of his swing. Maybe tweak a few things here and there…next time, boy…
Then, in the fullness of time, while prowling about like a roaring lion, he devoured a man named Judas. At last! Immanuel, the weak link in what more properly might be called the scarlet chain, could be killed! What a fool God was to take on flesh and lay His chest bare to the knife! This would bring an end to everything! Unfettered rule on the earth! The bonds of heaven would finally be thrown off! Satan was on the one yard line. One play to win the game. It was over! There was no way he could lose!
The nails went in. The Son gave up the ghost. The spear went into His side, water and blood flowed out into the earth. They threw His carcass into a pit. Last play! Just seal up that hole! It would be over!
This was Satan’s butt-fumble; his cosmic Waterloo. Not due to Satan’s ineptitude, but according to the great power and foreknowledge of God. Yahweh disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him. The greatest victory the world will ever know, orchestrated on the creaturely level by the one who was defeated. Satan’s fatal blow fell upon his own head, in his own strength, through the decree of God. A keystone cops caper for the ages. Utter humiliation. Dude, you were up by a million points with less than a second to go! Millennia of work and planning and all you can boast in now is a bruised heel? Do you own a football team in Cleveland?
Satan’s barking and howling prior to the cross amounted to no more than the hum in the air of the rod of iron, swinging to strike the potter’s vessel at Golgotha. All of his best laid plans are now shards across the earth and beyond, far as the curse is found.
And the humiliation just gets piled on century by century. This is the point, the hand I’m playing. It is not Satan’s guile that gives us the cute Christmas dragon with wings that flap and lights that twinkle. It is the laughter of He who sits in the heavens. It is the derision of the Ancient of Days against the serpent with the crushed head. How humiliating is it to be portrayed as an inflatable dragon in celebration of the birth of the Son of God? How degrading to be cast in the ignominious role of court jester, under compulsion to dance in the festival honoring the very baby responsible for crushing your head? Ask Haman, he knows.
What a victory for the bloody Lamb! Though he was in the form of God, though He WAS God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, to be usurped or seized, though it was good, a delight to the eyes and would make one wise. But He emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Satan’s humiliation is a delightful by-product of the spectacle of the Rider on the white horse, treading the wine press of the fury of the wrath of Almighty God. *shudder*. Jubilation dances on the wooden end of the spear, and rebellion gets the point. He beckons us all to step forward, to place our feet on the neck of our conquered foe, and dance. Let us join in the rout. The dragon, He has thrown into the sea, and He sells him in a store near you for $39.95.
This is a guest post from Greg DeVries, a member of Emmanuel Chapel.