24 December 2012

What Child is This?

Many families participate in great Christmas traditions this time of year.  We have a couple ourselves.  One is a carryover from my wife’s upbringing. 

Growing up in her home, whenever the phone rang between Christmas Eve and Day, they would answer it, “Christmas Eve gift!” The purpose was to be the first to say it to another family member that was calling.  It was fun tradition before caller ID and cell phones. But as traditions go, this one isn't practiced very often now because everyone knows who’s calling before the phone is answered.  The fun was explaining “Christmas Eve gift” to an unsuspecting person on the other end of the line. 

Our own tradition as a family is to go to a local Christmas tree farm every year, ride the hay wagon out into the orchard, and pick out our tree together, which required cutting it down ourselves. While this sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting, it’s not. But that is a story for another day.

During this time of year, Christmas carols are played and sung everywhere.  One memorable song is “What Child Is This?” As we ask ourselves that very question, I would like to let the Word of God answer it: 

What child is this?

Behold Jesus, the baby.  Isaiah prophesied about Jesus before His birth in Isaiah 7:14:  “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.  Which means ‘God with us’” I imagine the listeners of this prophesy would be blown away to hear, 700 years before His actual birth, that the Savior they've been anticipating will be born of a virgin; a birth so historical, it split our calendar in half:  BC -before Christ and now AD - “anno Domini,” which is Latin for “in the year of our Lord.”

‘Behold Jesus, the Lamb of God!’  John the Baptist made this bold declaration recorded in John 1:29.  The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him.  He said, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”  I envision everyone hearing this stopping dead in their tracks.

They would have known what John meant because they lived in a time where there was a sacrificial system.  They would have been annual observers of the Passover, remembering how God delivered Israel from bondage and said, “I’m going to send a death angel to pass over, and everyone who does not have their doors covered with the blood of the lamb will be destroyed.  But, if you have the blood of the lamb …” 

Practicing this in their day, the people would take an innocent lamb, slit its throat, and the blood would drain into a container.  They would take a sponge and paint the blood along the top of their doorpost.  This is an Old Testament picture of the blood of the cross of Jesus.  ‘…and those who were covered with His blood, the death angel would pass over and they would be spared.’ 

Revelation 5:12 says, “Worthy is the Lamb, Jesus, who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”

Behold!  Jesus, the man.  John, chapter 19:5:  Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  And Pilate said to them, “Behold the man.”

Jesus, miraculously, was all God, and at the same time, all man.  He was God in human form.  He was God in the flesh.  However, He was not an ordinary man.  This man was God and was so full of God’s love that He overflowed with compassion.  The Greek word that is translated as compassion is the word ‘splagchnizomai.’  It means to ache from the deepest part within for people.  It is an inner yearning. 

And when He saw people, He would be moved with compassion. 

The very depths of this love Jesus had for mankind is exactly what took him to the cross:  the innocent Lamb of God paying the price for all of our sin…saving us from eternal separation from God.  ‘For God didn’t send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17.  Behold, Jesus our savior!

Who else is Jesus? He is King, to be returning soon. Revelation 22:12 says, “And behold I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and I am the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 
When Jesus was born over two thousand years ago, He entered this world as a lowly servant inside of the manger.  When He returns, He will come as the King!

Who is this Child?  He is Christ, the Lord!

Merry Christmas and “Christmas Eve gift!”

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