What Child Is This?

Verse two of the Christmas Hymn, “What Child is This?” provides much to ponder this Christmas. Read these words slowly and carefully:

Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading
Nails, spear, shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you
Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary.

Why does the hymn writer include this line in a song celebrating the birth of Christ?

Nails, spear, shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you

What Child is this?

He was a child born for the nails, the spear, the cross. These are not pleasant thoughts, not the thoughts of Christmas joy.  

But the hymn writer is good to remind us of the truth of the Advent. If there were no nails, no piercing spear, no agonizing cross, there would be no joy, no celebration, no peace.

Christ came as a human, what we call the incarnation. He came  because we made the choice to live for ourselves. Rather than worship the God of heaven, Mankind chose to worship anything or anyone but God. We chose to suppress the wonder of God in exchange for the lie that we know is best. We were all born in rebellion to God and cherished our dreams instead of cherishing the Lord of heaven and earth.

This is why the prophet Isaiah says:

But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.

What Child is this?

He was a child born for death, a cruel death. He was born for the nails, the spear, the cross.  Why?

You and I are the ones who live in rebellion to God.  Why was Jesus pierced and crushed for our sins, for following our heart instead of his?  YES, We are like wandering sheep, going our own way; walking blindly and willingly into harm’s way. 

The baby in the stable was born to endure suffering and pain that is unimaginable to us. He was born to sweat drops of his righteous blood for our sins. He was born to be the perfect sacrifice so that by his punishment we could know and worship God for who he is.

What Child is this?

He is the child who was born to become guilty for my sin and for yours.

Paul tells us that

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became guilty for my sin, for your sin. Not just symbolically guilty, not sympathetically guilty, but truly guilty to the point where God’s only response to his own Son was to pour out his terrible wrath on Christ. All of the sins that you have done, including the dark, “secret” sins that you think no one else knows about, all of your sins became Christ’s sins. 

He was totally, wretchedly, guilty as he hung before God on the cross. Because of my sin he became so ugly and wicked that God, his Father, turned way from him, leaving Jesus to cry out

My God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus was born to live the perfect life before God so that he could become the perfect sacrifice and be pierced for your sin.

What Child is this?

This is the child who has prepared a table of grace for you. A table where you can come after you have walked through the darkest valleys.  A table where you can come and rest and be fed as one who is holy and pure just as Christ is holy and pure.

He is the child who has redeemed you from darkness and has made you to be as white as snow.  He is the savior who invites you to come and eat and remember him once again. 

What Child is this?

Shepherd Press