A silent night? Maybe in one sense, since mankind went to sleep unaware of what was happening behind the scenes.
The incarnation of God’s Son was a declaration of war against the devil:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14)
This spiritual war was millennia in the making. Before the first couple even left the Garden of Eden, God promised the serpent hostility between it and Eve’s seed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
This conflict continued through the ages all the way to the cross. Through death, said the Hebrews author, Jesus defeated the devil. The incarnation made it possible to fulfill the promise of Genesis 3:15.
It seems intuitive that a warrior is victorious by avoiding death in order to vanquish his enemy. But God’s wisdom is higher and deeper and often counterintuitive. He sent his Son to battle the serpent, and through death the victory was won.
“It is finished,” Jesus said with his last breath. God’s wrath was satisfied, atonement was accomplished, and the head of the serpent could not bear the crushing weight of the Son’s mighty heel.