“What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” William Chatterton Dix asks a fairly blunt question in the first line of his renowned Christmas carol. Just who is this Child, who was born in such humble surroundings?
The nostalgia created in modern-day representations of the Nativity may cause us to overlook Who we’re really dealing with here. Depictions of a quaint stable on a darkened countryside… a warm yellow glow from within permeating the night air, while shepherds and animals quietly look on under a brilliant, starry sky. The coziness of this imagery can sometimes downplay the absolute magnificence of the occasion. It’s not simply the picturesque manger scene that we celebrate at Christmas time. We celebrate everything that happened as a result of Jesus’ birth – this incredible moment in time when the Son of God became Man!
Nativity scenes of this type are pictured on countless Christmas cards, but Hebrews 1:1-3 isn’t the usual text we see printed in fancy gold script inside. These verses probably don’t jump to mind when we think of the classic Christmas story either. But these three verses are what the celebration of Christmas is all about. The ultimate revelation of God came to us in a Person - the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the full and complete revelation of God to mankind.
Hebrews 1:1-3 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”.
Let’s think about the amazing things these verses say about this tiny newborn, tightly wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger:
- He is the Son of God!
- Through Him, God created the world. (The stable in Bethlehem was not really the beginning for this baby. He was in existence before the world began!) (See also John 1:1-2)
- He not only created everything - He sustains everything by His all-powerful Word (Colossians 1:16-17).
- Because He is the exact image of God, all the attributes of God are seen in Him (John 14:9).
- He was sent by God to communicate directly with us through His life and work on earth, and through His Word (John 1:14).
- He willingly left the majesty of Heaven to become Man, so He Himself could save us from our sins (Philippians 2:6-8).
- He has been exalted to the highest place, and reigns at the right hand of God in Heaven (Philippians 2:9-11).
So at Christmas time, we celebrate Him, His life, and everything that makes His birth so special. At Christmas time, we rejoice that the magnificent Son of God humbly took on humanity to save us.
What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? “This, this is Christ the King!”