A carol writer, William Dix, of a century ago posed a profound question for us:
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.
So, carol writer, we will think about your question: What Child is this?
Well, He looks like a baby unlike artists’ portrayals; He has no halo or shining aura. He just looks like a new born baby.
What about that question everyone asks when seeing a new baby? “Whom does He look like?” Does He look like His mother, Mary? Perhaps. Does He look like His father, Joseph? No, there’s no resemblance at all. But look at Joseph for a moment. He looks so proud, and protective and full of awe. His expression tells us that he knows he was specially chosen to be called this Baby’s father. His ancestry was right so that this Baby would be of the natural lineage of David; his heart was right so he could hear, believe and respond to angelic messages.
But, back to the Baby. No, He doesn’t look like this special man, Joseph, for He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 1:3 tells us Who He looked like.
This Scripture tells us that this Baby didn’t just resemble His Father but that He was the exact image of His Father, God Almighty. We couldn’t see all that because He was all wrapped up in a blanket of humanity and anyway we didn’t know what His Father looked like to recognize the sameness. He would tell His followers more than 30 years later that He came to show them the Father. Whether we recognized the sameness or not, the fact remains that the Baby in the manger was totally like God, for He is totally God.
The Baby looks so helpless lying there. That’s because He is. This is God being totally human. He has traded the splendors of Heaven to absolutely identify with us. He has traded celestial air for earthly air; hear Him cry, as any baby does, as earthly air filled His tiny lungs- stable air at that. He traded His position of authority, such as speaking the universe into being, for the helplessness of a baby who was totally dependent on His parents for food, shelter, protection, and even His learning.
Yes, this little One is totally God and totally human. Even though He looks like any other baby, He is different. Although all babies look so innocent, this One is not only innocent, He is perfect, not carrying the taint of sin in His veins as all other babies have, including us. So, what Child is this? This is a perfect God-man.
Why did this One Who inhabited eternity so identify with us that He became this Baby? It was the only way to reconcile guilty mankind to a holy God.
Take another look with me at this Baby.
Look at these little hands. These are the hands that would touch blind eyes and bring sight, deaf ears and cause music to be heard and fevered foreheads and health would be restored. These are also the hands that would be pierced that we might be made whole.
Look at the little arms. These are the arms that would take up little children and bless them. These arms would be stretched over the city of Jerusalem as He would cry “…how often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks” (Matthew 23:37). These arms would be stretched out on a cross to embrace humanity.
See His eyes closed in sleep. These are the eyes that would look into the heart of the woman who washed His feet and would proclaim that she loves much because she was forgiven much. These eyes would see Zacchaeus hiding in the tree and invite Himself to his house to change his heart and life forever. These are the eyes that would look down through the corridors of time and see you and me and say, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).
See His tiny lips. These are the lips that would say in tenderness to the woman dragged in by the accusing crowd, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:11). They would say in authority to Lazarus, “Come forth,” and on the cross “It is finished” (John 19:30). His lips would say in mercy, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
These little ears, look at them.
These are the ears of a shepherd, the Good Sheperd, who would continue to hear down through the centuries the bleating of the lost sheep … hearing that has never dulled in spite of all the noises of strife, hurry, confusion, and wrong. He listens to us.
Take a look at these little feet.
They would walk not only the dusty roads of Israel but also with us on our individual roads, showing us the way to walk with our God and with our fellow man. These are the feet which would fulfill a promise of restoration after the fall in the garden just three chapters into the Biblical record: The seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head.
Oh, over the manger cradle where the Little One lies, there appears to be the shadow of a wooden cross. But I also see the outline of an empty tomb.
So What Child is This?
What Child is this?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud (hurry, hurry to bring Him our praise),
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Wanda McLaren, Hamilton (CA)