Nothing can capture for me the mystery and the beauty of Christmas better than the carols we sing. They have the power to recreate in my imagination the scenes of the first Christmas. They seem to be able to set the atmosphere — the crowded inn, the smelly stable, the sleeping city, the great star spilling its beauty down over the waiting earth, the lonely shepherds in the field, the blazing, sudden glory of the heavenly hosts breaking through the darkness, then the contrast of the stable in a cave with the sleeping babe and the wondering hearts that come to worship and kneel before this amazing wonder, Jesus Christ born on earth.
One carol we sing at Christmas asks 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?”
And the chorus answers,
“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the son of Mary.”
I am sure the shepherds asked the same question when they went into the stable on that first Christmas Day: “What Child is this?” But no one had an adequate answer. Mary, you remember, “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart,” Luke 2:19. She did not know what the answer was. You never can answer that question until you have the full record unfolded in the Gospel accounts of the silent years in Nazareth and the coming of age of Jesus, His baptism by John, the trudging up and down the hills of Galilee and Judea with His disciples, the teaching, the miracles, and finally, the last crowded dramatic week in Jerusalem that culminated in the cross and the blazing glory of resurrection.
And then it still was not over. There was the moment in Jerusalem when the Spirit was poured out upon the waiting disciples. The whole city was gathered to hear the great sound of a rushing wind in the wonder of Pentecost.
It is only then you begin to get a full answer to this question, “What Child is this?”
How do you answer this question?