Posted by: James McDonald | December 24, 2007

What Child Is This?

This past Lord’s Day we continued our study in the Book of Ecclesiastes, covering verses 2-9 of chapter 8. The focus of this section of Scripture is the basis for government and the Christians response to governing authorities.
Before preaching, we sang together the old carol, What Child Is This? As we sang, I focused on the first verse of the hymn, noting the words:

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?

I was inspired to use this as part of my opening illustration.

In our day, keeping the Sabbath is not very popular. But, many do attend church on the Sunday before Christmas. For most established churches, this day often sets attendance records! But this begs the question: why do so many forsake assembling together to worship God the other fifty one Sundays of the year?

I believe this hymn presents an answer to the problem. Like the characters in a nativity set on the mantle, our focus is on the Babe in the Manger. Most see the Babe Christ as sweet and helpless. Babies are dependent on us for food and shelter—we certainly don’t rely on them for anything. They can’t go where they want. They don’t meddle in our affairs. Christ, as a Babe, seems cute—even beautiful …and weak. We can gather together once a year to gaze upon the spectacle of true innocence without feeling threatened—without fearing change. Thus, we assume we can do whatever we want the other Sundays of the year.

We don’t mind Christ in this fashion. What Child is this anyway? Why should we worry about what He demands of us?

But the hymn goes on:

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Now this is offensive! If Christ is King, then He is much more than a harmless Babe. He is the One in control – He is our Sovereign!

Ponder for a moment the prophecy of the Birth of Christ:

Isaiah 9:6-7: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Notice the focus – on government, on a kingdom!

Consider what this is saying. The governing structures in our society rest upon Him! He is the One Who has decreed their order and their structure. In the family, in the office, in the church, and in the state, King Jesus is to be acknowledged! He is no longer a Babe in a Manger; He is Lord of lords and King of kings, from this time forward and forever!

Friend, if you face turmoil in your home, in your church, or in your office, perhaps you should ask yourself if the problem could be your failure to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in your life. Do you know He is the One on Whom the governments in your life rest? Do you recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the reigning King of the universe? Are you willing to trust Him and follow His precepts concerning your role in your family, in His church, at your place of employment?

If you want to experience real peace in your life, the only way you can is by seeing Christ not as a Babe, but as your King.


  1. Merry CHRISTmas!

  2. James, thank you for sharing this. Great insight and very challenging.

    Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and your family.


  3. Thank you brother for this blog! This is a very life challenging blog, and the more that the Lord convicts me of his Lordship in our lives , I am convinced that according to scripture that we can not have Him as our saviour and not as Lord. Although it is so much easier to just acknowledge Christ as saviour , there is no challenge. The challenge is not only acknowledging Him as Lord but understanding what comes along with that.

    That is why the focus in my opinion at this time of the year is always on Christ the baby and not on Jesus Christ The Lord! But him being Lord means that we can no longer have this innocent and unchallenged view of Christmas in which we claim that it is Christ who is supposed to glorified and praised during this time of the year. Well, what about the rest of the year, and is He Lord of our lives, if so, we must really take a closer look at our hearts and lives. But if he is not Lord then we can just continue on with buisness as usual. Thank you for the opportunity to respond!


%d bloggers like this: