What Child is This
Study Guide, December 13, 2015 – Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the most profound questions ever asked was in the title of a Christmas Carol – “What Child Is This?” You remember the question: ‘What Child is this, who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping?’ Of course, the great answer in the song is that ‘He’s the King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him.’ And that should be the great response of all people: They should enthrone the King Jesus in their hearts and minds as their Lord and Savior.
And yet the question of ‘What Child Is This?’ really leads us to a further quest to discover as much as we can about this Child who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. And the more we discover the more we will want to and see the need to enthrone Jesus more and more in our lives.
So let’s go back, not first to Bethlehem, but back to the Garden…the Garden of Eden. Because it was in Eden that we are told that Christmas was coming…not in those exact words, but…well, let’s take a look. Gen 3:15- (Speaking to Satan, and in the hearing of Adam and Eve, the Lord said) “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” NIV This amazing passage is what is referred to as the ‘Protoevangelium’, or the ‘First Gospel’. God is informing our first parents and all humanity after them that the crisis that had just occurred in creation and the curse that would follow due to sin and Satan would be corrected and conquered by the offspring of a woman, a human being that would one day come into the world. And even though Satan would strike His heal, this human being would crush Satan’s head, picturing a complete and total victory over Satan and deliverance for God’s people.
So from the very beginning, God put mankind on ‘Messiah Alert’, on ‘Deliverer Alert, on ‘Savior Alert’. Think about it: Now, it doesn’t say, but Adam and Eve may have thought this Messiah might be one of their children. And then their children probably thought this coming Messiah might be one of their children, and on and on it went. And as the years passed more and more clues were revealed as to the Messiah’s identity, as to how they would know that this child, this person would be the One. But the point is, from that day on all mankind was put on alert that there would come a time when this seed of a woman, this offspring of a woman, this human being would come into the world to conquer sin and Satan. The entire Old Testament can be summed up by saying all who were followers of the One Creator and God were on a continual ‘Messiah Alert’. They were on ‘Messiah Watch’.
And here’s another ‘of course’…Another ‘of course’ is that ‘of course’ this human being would have to be more than just human, because no human being can conquer Satan and remove the curse of sin. Only God can do that. So not only do we have the revelation of the First Gospel in the Garden of Eden, but we also have the revelation of the Incarnation. There was coming a time when One would come into the world who would be both human and Divine, and would be the Conquering Messiah, the Christ, the Deliverer, the Savior. Which, another ‘of course’ is just what Paul revealed happened that first Christmas: Gal 4:4-6- “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”” NASU
Another discovery and clue came through Jacob while he was giving his last blessings to his sons. And when he came to Judah, by the Spirit of God he said this: Gen 49:10-12- “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk.” NKJV This Promised One, the Messiah, would come through the line of Judah. ‘Shiloh’ was a reference to the Messiah, the One to who all rule and authority belonged, and thus the words in the song; ‘The King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him.’ In fact, His rule is characterized by a paradise-like environment, as in: ‘Back to Eden’!
Later the prophet Isaiah elaborates on this theme and speaks about what it will be like when this ‘Shiloh’ has taken up the scepter over all the Earth. Isa 11:6-9- “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.” NLT
Can you imagine, living in a setting like this? Even the entire animal kingdom is going to be at peace with each other. Keep that in mind the next time you are watching a National Geographic nature program, where the animals are fighting and attacking each other and, well…you get the idea. But imagine walking through the Jungles of the world in the coming Kingdom. It will be like going to the Petting Zoo! When the Prince of Peace takes up the scepter to rule over His world, He’s going to make His world like it was when He made Eden.
Now, the Messiah’s sovereign rule in His second advent was not to be confused with the Messiah’s salvation sacrifice during His first advent, but still, the prophets and the people then, and the church and the world now needs to know just ‘Who’ it is that we are talking about when we sing songs like ‘What Child Is This?’ He’s the One that goes by a number of majestic titles, like what we read in our Chapel By The Sea memory verse and then with the additional revelation of verse 7: Isa 9:6-7-For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” NASU
It’s like Isaiah saying, “Just so you know who it is exactly that we’re talking about when we say ‘This Child’, as in ‘The Child’ that God told Adam and Eve was going to come through the seed of a woman; Yeah, ‘This Child’ is also our Mighty God and our Eternal Father!” He’s the One that comes through the family of Abraham, and through the line of Judah, and in the genealogy of David. And besides that His birth will be a ‘virgin birth’.” Figure that out.” No, Isaiah didn’t say, ‘Figure that out’…
But the point is, the whole Earth was put on ‘Messiah Alert’, so that when the Messiah arrived and someone asked ‘What Child Is this?’, they would absolutely know! In fact, there were over a hundred prophecies made about Jesus even before His birth! What more was necessary to put the the people on alert for watching for His coming?! From the first revelation to our first parents about this coming child, what should have been first in the minds and lives of every person on Earth was to find out as much as they could about ‘What Child Is This?’ And interestingly enough, the same is to be true of us today. Foremost in our mind and life should be the discovery of everything that we can learn about and then live out in answer to the question of ‘What Child Is This?’
‘What Child Is This?’ Remember, As Mary looked at ‘This Child’ that had been made in her, she was also looking at the Creator who had made her. The Apostle Paul made that crystal clear when he later wrote: Col 1:15-16 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He created all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether they are kings or lords, rulers or powers—everything has been created through Him and for Him.” GOD’S WORD
How strange that so many people around the world this Christmas will sing about and talk about ‘This Child’ in the manger without understanding the fact that ‘This Child’ is also the Sovereign Creator of all things in heaven and on earth, including them! This is the One who made them! He is the ‘Weaver’ of Ps 139:13-16- “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” NLT This is what those living even a thousand years before ‘This Child’ was born understood about ‘Who’ ‘This Child’ would be. He would be the Messiah, who was both Savior and God.
And speaking about what the Psalmist knew about the Messiah, David was granted one of the most amazing experiences ever, in that he was allowed to hear a conversation between God the Father and God the Son and then he recorded the words they said for all mankind to read. Look at this:
Ps 110:1-7- “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet. The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.” NASU
David said that the Lord, the Father, said to his Lord, the Messiah, that He is going to be given all rule and authority over all the the world. And, of course, by calling the Messiah his ‘Lord’ David revealed that the Messiah is both God and Man. David also revealed that the Messiah would not only be King over all the Earth, but that He will be the eternal High Priest. This unity of Priest and King would be a unique order and would end the line of Aaron’s priesthood. Remember, this is exactly what Hebrews tells us, that Jesus became both our final High Priest and the final sacrifice. And as the promised Messiah King He united both offices in One Person. That’s why we are told in Heb 4:14-16- “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” NASU
‘What Child Is This?’ He’s the Conqueror of sin and death and Satan. He’s the Mighty God, Creator, Prince of Peace. He’s the Great High Priest, the one Mediator between God and man, and the final sacrifice for removing our spiritual death sentence from us. He’s the promised Messiah, the Anointed One of God, who would deliver us out of the kingdom of death and darkness into the Kingdom of life and light. He’s the coming King who reminded us that all authority has been given Him in Heaven and on Earth to rule and reign. And soon, He’s coming back to do this very thing because He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords.
‘What Child Is This?’ Indeed!