Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Child is This?

The message of Christmas is so big that its impact is felt around the world. At the same time, it is so small that it was contained in the body of a tiny infant - the baby Jesus.

When I think of the fact that the Creator of all things humbled Himself, leaving the glory and majesty of heaven and taking the form of a baby, I am awestruck. There is nothing in all the world that we can compare such an event to. It is simply without parallel.

The Christmas carol, "What Child is This" paints a picture of the baby in the manger and what the future held for the tender infant.

The first verse asks who this is, lying in the manger, sleeping on Mary's lap, and accompanied by both angels and shepherds. The second verse asks why this baby is being subjected to such a lowly setting and goes on speak of the reason Jesus came - the salvation of sinners. It also talks of the nails and the cross that Jesus will face as an adult.

So many things about this carol touch the heart. But the one that strikes me first is the humility of Christ to come in such a manner. Although He was one hundred percent God, He was also one hundred percent human, and as such, he was so vulnerable, so small, and so very tender. Think of the soft baby skin, the downy head, and the ten small toes and fingers.

It is impossible for us to imagine the journey from heaven to earth, but imagine just for a few moments what it would be like for you and I to simply roll back the clock and go back to being a baby. Hypothetically, if I were asked to undergo such a transformation to help someone else out, it would be a phenomenally tough decision. I would no longer be able to speak, to walk, to perform the smallest of daily personal activities. I would be totally and completely dependent on someone else.

What Christ gave up to come here was so much more! He was not just rolling back time, He was also leaving the courts of heaven and all that is connected with royal position. On top of that, the shadow of the cross was always over Him, even at His birth. The third verse of "What Child is This" tells us to bring Him incense, gold, and myrhh. These are the very gifts that the wise men brought to the child. While their significance is not explained directly in scripture, traditional thought says that each gift has a deeper meaning.

Gold is the precious metal that covered the ark of the covenant. This gift is thought to be symbolic of His divinity. Frankincense was used in worship and is thought to be symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering. Myrrh is a spice that has been used in embalming, symbolizing bitterness, suffering and affliction. Not the typical gifts given to a baby.

But Jesus was not just any baby. What child is this? This child was God in the flesh, born to be Savior of the world.

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