What Child Is This?
My dear Reyà, long ago I witnessed something. 1 Something strange. I dismissed it as not important. Yet now I cannot drive the events from my mind. Every moment these memories haunt me…not with fear, but hope. I know, I know. Allow me to explain.
A child was born in Bethlehem. Just an ordinary baby. But the birth occurred where the animals were stabled. The mother wrapped him up and put him in a feeding trough. Imagine someone doing that! And I thought, “What child is this?”
Then filthy shepherds arrived. They claimed angels appeared, singing…yes, singing…about this baby, where he was born, and how they would find him lying in a feeding trough. The shepherds came and there he was. I wondered, “What child is this?”
Years later others came, men of great wealth. They said they had been following this baby’s star! They even brought gifts. The gold I’m sure was helpful, but the rest seemed more appropriate for a funeral. So I asked, “What child is this?”
Our minds say, “You do not know who he was.”
These men believed he was special, yet I could tell they were afraid. Then one terrible night, soldiers, intent on killing this baby, entered Bethlehem and slaughtered every child two years and under. But the family had left. And I feared, “What child is this?”
I’ve tortured my soul for the meaning of it all. Some mention a prophecy, the coming of one to save his people. But I’ve heard that before. Many have claimed to be a messiah. They stir the pride of desperate people with promises of wealth, glory, and power. All fail.
Now today there’s talk of another. He has no army or gold to buy one. No position or power among those in authority. And yet they fear this man from wretched Nazareth. But Reyà, be on guard.
I have good report that he is that same child—born in such humble surroundings…proclaimed by angels and a star…sought by lowly shepherds and wealthy foreigners…whose birth led to death. I must see him, Reyà. You must see him. And we must know…What child is this!
But our hearts cry out, “I know Who He is!”
A Christmas hymn begins, 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? 2 We sing the words but often ignore other lines of this beautiful song. Good Christians, fear, for sinners here, the silent Word is pleading. Nails, spears shall pierce him through, the cross he bore for me, for you.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are plays, nativities, and wonderful carols. Many gather with family and friends. Many sit quietly alone. And often we are so caught up in what He was that we forget who He is—God With Us, born to die so we might live.
May you hold Christ in your heart, not for a season but throughout the year, as each day you remember Him and better understand…What child is this.
“This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing: Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.”
Take care and be God’s. Ciloa Forever!
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) Reyà is an ancient Hebrew word which means Friend. (2) What Child Is This, by W. Chatterton Dix, 1865.
Pictures: Banner: Star of Bethlehem, photo by Haylie Gordon, December 13, 2020. (1) Baby Jesus, photo by Simon Dewey. (2) Rachel’s Tears, Winestock Creators, Shutterstock. (3) What Child Is This, Crossway Fellowship, Manassas, VA, crosswayfellowship.org.