For some reason Christmas has become too angelic, all lights and glitter and shining cherubs on gaudy Christmas cards. There is some truth to this, of course. When Christ came as a child the true light shineth. But Christmas is also about demons and hell and darkness. It is about the darkness of eternal fire. It is about the terrors of death. It is about the dragons that live in our own hearts. There is nothing wrong with rejoicing in the light, but if we forget the darkness the light loses its potency. It is easy at Christmas time to take the light for granted. To forget what Christ actually came to do.
It may come as a surprise that many of the Advent and Christmas songs we sing mention this darkness and hell. Here are a few lines from those songs to give some perspective on what Christ came to do.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel is one of the best carols to show who we were before Christ came. It views God’s people as in exile and bondage to Satan and in need of rescue. Verses 3 and 4 bring this out.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
The fourth verse of the song Savior of the Nations, Come has these lines in it:
From the Father forth he came and returneth to the same
Captive leading death and hell, High the song of triumph swell.
The final verse of Good Christian Men Rejoice, says, “now ye need not fear the grave.”
Joy to the World, talks about Christ coming to make his blessings flow “far as the curse is found.” This includes redemption, but it also includes victory over all his enemies.
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, says that Christ descends “from the realms of endless day, that the powers of hell may vanish.”
Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming, states that Christ “dispels with glorious splendor/the darkness everywhere.”
Of the Father’s Love Begotten says in verse 3:
He is found in human fashion death and sorrow here to know
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe
May not henceforth die and perish In the
dreadful gulf below evermore and evermore.
I am sure there are some I have missed. Numerous Christmas songs speak specifically of Christ’s victory over sin, which means his victory over death and Hell.
The Scriptures speak of this as well. In Matthew Jesus’ birth is not follow by peace on earth, but by Herod killing the children and Joseph fleeing with his family to Egypt. The battle begins at the Incarnation. Herod knew this. Unfortunately, we often do not.
In Luke we see the same themes of Christ’s Kingship and rule driving out those who oppress His people.
Mary states that when God sent Christ he:
Showed strength with his arm
Scattered the proud
Put down the mighty
Filled the hungry
But sent the rich away empty.
Zacharias says that Christ came so:
We should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us..
That we will be delivered from the hand of our enemies.
Christmas is not just about a child born in a manger. It is about a King who came to banish all the powers of darkness and Hell. When the angel came to Mary and the angels sung to the shepherds the end of our enemies was already at hand. Christ came to destroy all our enemies. So don’t forget darkness, Hell, Satan, Herod, death, and sin during this Christmas. Christ did not come to wear a halo and lay sweetly in a manger. He was King at his birth and came to conquer.