What Child Is This?
Every year carries with it many of the same feelings and thoughts about Christmas. What is Christmas really about this year? People will make the futile attempt to redirect people’s attention to what they feel is the true meaning of Christmas is, and yet at the same time they themselves missing the point. Churches will say it is about the birth of Jesus, and yet will themselves neglect or refute what He said during His life, while many ignore or else fail to care about what was done at the summation of His earthly ministry. In other words, in the end there is a sort of moral conscience that activates during such times of the year, and therefore it must be appeased, but only so far as to shut it up. And this is further evidenced when Easter comes around, especially in light of the fact that little to no attention is given publicly to the actual meaning of Easter, nor is little attempt made to rectify this. Instead He is replaced with a rabbit, and His sacrifice is repaid with worthless eggs. And like Christmas, He is mentioned, but completely disregarded in what He actually said and did. And when the churches make a bigger deal of the event of His birth than that of His life and death, a clear fact can be discerned: we’ve lost almost all attention to what child this actually was.
He is the image of the invisible God…
First and foremost is the fact of His deity. Let’s get this out of the way: Jesus Christ is God. The term “image” does not mean “a copy of Him,” as much as it means “perfect representation.” You can’t see God right now. I know, simple fact, right? But what I mean is, you really cannot see Him. Because you would die! (Ex. 33:20) So who is Jesus Christ? He is the exact representation of the invisible God who you cannot see lest you die. He is the version of God that you are allowed to see without perishing, although He Himself still bearing the “likeness/fullness” of God being the “Son of God,” not as offspring, but One who is the fullness of God but not being the Father whose very perfection kills that which is sinful (contrary to His nature). This is why anyone who rejects Jesus Christ rejects in turn the Father Himself, since they are one in the same person (Luke 10:16).
Now let us put this into perspective. This is not some offspring (creation) of God entering the world in the manger scene. This is the non-lethal version of God descending to earth in the form of man, with the primary difference being that He had no sin in the flesh, because God cannot have that which (by its very definition) is opposite of Him. So this child that Mary birthed and to whom the shepherds came to see and the wisemen brought gifts to, was not some man, nor a great prophet, nor the closest thing to God. He was God in the flesh among us (Emmanuel), not in similar traits or some general likeness, but in full reality.
…the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
And yet this Jesus bore a separate role from the Father, despite being One with Him. He is the Creator, the maker of all things, and being so He is not merely descending to sinful man, but to His own creation. John details this in Chapter 1 of his gospel, as the Light entered the world of darkness, and His creation did not recognize Him. And perhaps it is a natural reaction when we read that, and say “Those evil Jews, how could they not see it?” We recreate the scene where Joseph and Mary enter Bethlehem, and there is no room in the Inn! Oh, what a tragedy, how we would have had room for them were we to be there! And yet we fail to see that we would probably have been less hospitable than those who did not have the room, seen in the light of how we treat God today. We claim to have to have room for Christ in the flesh, but cannot even make room for Him in our busy schedule. Oh, yes, we would let Him in for a night, but don’t expect Him to stay! (see Rev. 3:20) We can hardly bear the thought of hearing His Word on Sunday, much less any other day of the week.
If Jesus came to earth in the same fashion today, the world would still not recognize Him. Why? Because little has changed in regards to sin since the birth of Christ, save for its adaptation to His grace, using it as reason for sin. But the sin of the creation is not that it did not know who He was, but rather that they rejected what He said. Amidst all of the creation, there is a common theme: God tells the moon to rise and the sun to set. He calls the stars by name, and tells the dawn to know its place. The wind and sea listened to Him, and in the very beginning of all things He told them to exist, and they did. As He describes Himself in Job 38 through to the end of the book, He is the One who tells creation what to do, and it does it. But there is one glitch in that whole system. While the stars and moon and wind and sea all say “Yes!” mankind looks up and says “No!” Mankind is infected with sin- abject rebellion- and we love it. We adhere to it like a set of laws, managing to constantly mold it into whatever situation we find ourselves in, justifying the worst of sins with the best of excuses. And so when Jesus Christ, the Creator, enters into the world, its sin is not found in the fact that it didn’t know Who this was, as much as when it heard Him speak and rejected what He said, they crossed the ultimate line. It is one thing to know God exists, it is a whole different matter to do what He says. So it matters little whether you “have room for Him,” because a failure to do what He says will reveal your hypocrisy and condemn you all the more.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
He is literally the sustainment of all things. The air we breathe is given by Him, and the blood that flows through us was supplied by Him. The food we eat, the clothes we wear and the life we have is from Him and held by Him, so He can cease any of these in His own time. No amount of exercise or healthy eating can change this, nor is there a way around it. He keeps you alive, and holds the cells of all created things together. And at the end of all things, He will end them all in the first creation, before the Judgement. So let’s get this understood up front: the child in the manger was holding that manger together, and woman who birthed His earthly flesh was kept alive by Him. He was not ignorant nor helpless, but in full control. Thus, the humility shown by those who attended, and seen in the angels who came to worship Him. Though the creation did not know Him, He still received the treatment of a king at His birth- just not by those who, to this very day, fail to see Him as He is.
He would also found the church, which we claim to be a part of. Therefore when the church should worship in memory of His birth, it ought not to be in common vanity, but it distinct separation of our time and energy from the usual to the Divine. We are to give our all to Him, claiming to be His own, and it is in the very knowledge of who He is. Because unlike the world, we do know the nature of this King, that He is God. And that knowledge should result in complete devotion to Him, not a vague memory of Him when it is profitable to me.
And finally, He is the firstborn of the dead. Before Him there was no sufficient sacrifice for sins, nor were there any after Him. He is the culmination of God’s plan and grace, and fulfilled the Law to the very end that He might die for those who did not. You see, it was of little concern that the world did not know Who this was, and He was not here to show them who God was. They were not ignorant, nor would the knowledge of God’s existence save them. Rather, He came regardless of the attention they would give Him, good and bad, as there was a more specific reason He came. He did not come to show people that He is the Creator, because that wasn’t the problem. Sin is, and always has been. So He came to deal with sin, not ignorance (which He “overlooked” (Acts 17:30)). And He therefore has “first place,” bearing the rights over death and Hell and the right to open the book of life (Rev. 1:17-18).
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
And here we find ourselves again. The Father’s fullness (His attributes, His perfection and His will) filled up Jesus, and made Him separate (holy) from the rest of the world. And in this deity, He came to reconcile men to Himself, to free them from their master (sin) and purchase them to Himself, so that He might change who they are. He redeemed us through the work of the cross, and that by the hands of those He came to save. It was the ones who spit at Him of whom He said “Father, forgive them!” But He does not leave us in ignorance and sin, but pulls us out for the purpose that we would be righteous in His sight, intentionally glorifying Him through holiness in nature and works. And this righteous which each Christian bears comes through the cost of His blood, since we ourselves had little desire for salvation from the Lake of Fire and absolutely nothing to show in regards to good works before Him.
And it is through this God, this Creator of all things, that Paul writes in Colossians 1. The Bible is not some mere book of philosophical sayings, but the words of God the Creator to us. We are not to acknowledge His existence and leave it at that, as the world will do that in His second coming, but will do so with hatred and bitterness. Whereas to us His will is revealed, that we would purposefully do it. So when we celebrate Christmas (and Easter alike), we are celebrating the One who came to do the will of the Father, and to show us how we ought to live, and finally gave us the ability to do so, and the right to become children of God Himself so that we would never drift away again. Do not celebrate Christmas in ignorance or arrogance, but in the knowledge of the Truth. What Child is this? Jesus, the God of righteousness and Creator of all things, who saved those who would believe. And it is His Word that carries more weight than any ruler or authority, so let’s read it as such.