Seeing Jesus – Part 2 – The Crusher in the Crèche

The first promise of Jesus in the Bible is one of violence and destruction. God speaks directly to Satan in Genesis 3.15 to tell him that a day is coming when one of the offspring of the woman he has deceived will crush his head. And while this “Seed of the woman” will suffer injury in the process, by His life and work He will destroy the devil and all his works.

A favorite scene in the classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, involves a harmless looking rabbit. Cute, cuddly, white as snow, the rabbit looks like easy prey for a hungry band of blundering knights. But their guide warns the troop that all is not what it seems. This rabbit is a vicious killer, a fact the questers discover for themselves the hard way. The scene ends with them crying, “Run away! Run away!” as the savage bunny continues to rout the knights.

Sometimes you can see things more by their effects than by their presence. When the wind blows, for example, we see the trees bend, and we know there is power in the wind, even though we cannot see it. When a cuddly bunny attacks a band of knights, well, you know something rather more serious is at work.

When most of us think of Jesus, lying in the manger, we don’t think about the unfathomable, irresistible power wrapped up in those swaddling clothes. More likely, we see Him like that gentle, snow-white rabbit. Cute. Lovely to sing about. Wouldn’t hurt a flea.

But Jesus is the Crusher in the Crèche, and while we may not see Him quite that way, we need only look at the effects of His incarnation on the world of wicked spiritual powers. And to do that, we turn to 17th century Puritan poet, John Milton.

Milton wrote a Christmas poem as a gift to Jesus. “Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” is a lilting and glorious celebration of the Lord’s incarnation. In it, he includes a lengthy section explaining that not all the world rejoiced at the birth of the Savior. The realm of spiritual powers, pagan priests and deities, and Satan himself was thrown into a panic by the advent of the Crusher in the Crèche. Milton provides a panoramic view of the panic of pagan powers, beginning in the lair of the devil himself:

…for from this happy day 
Th’ old Dragon under ground, 
In straiter limits bound, 
Not half so far casts his usurped sway, 
And, wrath to see his kingdom fail, 

Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail. 

Purveyors of false oracles and every make-believe deity flee for the high ground. Lament and weeping issue from pagan high places the world over. Priests and flamens and other religious hucksters hear the bright singing of the angels, and a chill of dread comes over them as they hasten to find a place to hide. The old pagan gods of Canaan flee their temples, dousing the lights as they go. Moloch ducks into the shadows and the gods of Egypt, having once tasted the wrath of God, hasten from their wonted haunting grounds. All these purveyors of darkness, lies, wickedness, and death feel “from Juda’s land/The dreaded Infant’s hand.” The bright rays of Jesus’ birth blind the devil and his ilk, and none dare any longer abide their familiar hearths and altars.

Milton sums up the power of Jesus to crush the devil and all his minions in a surprising couple:

Our Babe, to show his Godhead true, 

Can in his swaddling bands control the damnèd crew.

The Crusher in the Crèche was loosed on the world in that humble manger in Bethlehem. Jesus has bound the strong man and is plundering all his holdings and constraining his most evil plans and schemes. And we have power from the Holy Spirit to resist the devil and send him packing—power that comes from the Right Hand of God and His Word!

Where the kingdom and power of the devil and his minions is concerned, Jesus is crushing them.

Our sweet carols and peaceful nativity scenes might give the impression that Jesus is as gentle as a cuddly bunny. But don’t count on it. We can see by the effects of Jesus on His spiritual foes that He is powerful beyond anything we can imagine.

So today, when temptation seeks to prey on you, or sin gets you down, look to the Crusher in the Crèche. See Jesus, the King on His throne, and call on His victorious power to enable you to resist the devil and his tempting ways. As you do, he will flee from you just as he fled the Crusher in the Crèche.

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