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WHAT CHILD IS THIS? – A CHRISTMAS SERMON

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Mr. Noah Song
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 18, 2016

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).


The famed historian Dr. Philip Schaff said,

Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, and Napoleon.

Or Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Tse Tung!

And there are only three possible reactions to Christ. C. S. Lewis said,

You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.

In this marvelous Christmas passage, in Luke 2:7, we learn of the poverty of Christ.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for him in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit placed Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary.

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

But the Son of God was not born in a great palace. He was born in a very poor condition – in a stable. The Bible says that He

“…made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Christ was born in this poor condition to conceal the greatness of the event from a thoughtless and sinful world, and to reveal the greatness of it to those who had spiritual insight.

The birthplace of Jesus was so humble and low that this, itself, was given to the shepherds as a means of identifying Him,

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

The swaddling clothes themselves would not be the sign. All Jewish children, when they were born, were washed in water, rubbed with salt, and then wrapped in strips of cloth, or “swaddling clothes.” Not only would He be wrapped in strips of cloth, but He would be lying in a “manger,” in a box of straw that donkeys ate from in a barn.

Matthew Henry says,

When we saw him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, we were tempted to say, “Surely this cannot be the Son of God.” But see his birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, “Surely it can be no other than the Son of God…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, commentary on Luke 2:12).

A newborn baby, wrapped in strips of cloth, placed in a manger, a trough used to feed animals. Even these poor shepherds had never seen a baby placed in a feeding trough for cattle! “This shall be a sign unto you”!

Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See within a manger laid Jesus, Lord of heav’n and earth!
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, With us sing our Saviour’s birth.
   (“Angels We Have Heard on High,” source unknown).

Jesus came down from the glory of Heaven to be born in a stable and placed in the dirty straw of a cattle trough.

“[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

The Son of God, the Lord of creation, was born in a stable. He lived His life in poverty. He was stripped naked, and nailed to a cross. Why did He allow Himself to go through such humiliation? The Apostle Paul explained it well when he said,

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).

What child is this, who laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Why lies He in such mean estate Where ox and ass are feeding?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping?
   (“What Child Is This?” by William C. Dix, 1837-1898).

What child is this? Please turn to John, chapter one, verse one.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Look up, please. “The Word.” Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity. Verse one says that Jesus “was with God” and “was God.” From eternity past, He has always been with God and has always been God, co-existing with the Father.

Moreover, verse three tells us that “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Jesus created the world.

Now look at verse ten.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10).

Jesus created the world, yet when He was born as a baby, the world did not know Him as its Creator and Lord. Now read aloud verse fourteen.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” That is the incarnation. God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, was made flesh in the womb of the virgin, Mary. He who made the world was born in that stable in Bethlehem.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him;
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
   (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

Jesus came down from Heaven to this earth. But He did not come the way they expected Him. He did not come as a great king. He came as a little baby. He was born in the lowest condition. They laid Him in the straw, in the midst of cows and donkeys.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

This shows that Jesus was fully human. He was fully God and fully man at the same time.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

The poor and lowly birth of Jesus in that stable foreshadowed His humiliating, lowly death. They arrested Him for preaching the truth. They blindfolded Him and beat Him in the face. They spit on Him, and pulled out chunks of His beard. They nearly beat Him to death by flogging His back. They stripped off all of His clothes and nailed Him stark naked to a cross. He hung there dying between two common criminals, who were crucified, one on each side of Him. A full description of the horrible torture and death that Christ went through is given in Mark 15:16-20.

“And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him” (Mark 15:16-20).

They nailed His hands and feet to a cross!

But why did Jesus die on the Cross? He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. Yes, for your sin. Unless your sin is cancelled by Christ’s death you will spend eternity in Hell. Do you think Jesus came down and was nailed to a cross so you could have fun and sing a few hymns? You are wrong if you think that. This morning our pastor Dr. Hymers preached on Hell. He said, “Jesus was not born just to give us Christmas trees and twinkly lights. He was born to die on a cross to save sinners like you from the fire of Hell. So that sinners like you could be washed clean by the Blood He shed on that cross. When you take Hell out of Christmas it becomes just a pagan holiday.” You are a sinner. You do not think about your sinful heart. You do not think about the sins you hide. You do not think about the sins you wouldn’t want your mother to know about. But God knows about every sin you commit!

Christ died on the Cross to make full payment for your sin. He went through Hell on the Cross to save you from burning in Hell for all eternity. Jesus did not come to condemn you. He came so that you “through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). But you must repent and trust Jesus or you will not be saved by Him. I trusted Jesus and He saved me. You can do that too.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

He is not in that manger today. He is not on the Cross today. This Christmas Sunday He is risen – physically from the dead. He has ascended to the right hand of God, in the glory of Heaven above. You can come to Him, like those shepherds did. You can bow before Him and He will cancel out your sins and give you a clean record, and save your soul.

Will you come and trust Christ, the Son of God? Will you be saved by Him from sin, death and the grave? Will you receive eternal life from Him?

The Apostle Paul said,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

Will you believe on Him fully? Will you trust Him with your life? Will you be saved by Him? I pray that you will.

And be sure to make time for the Son of God on Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas, here at the church. Give your full heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, and show it by being with His people here in church both on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve! Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come home to Jesus Christ – the Son of God! Let us stand and sing hymn number 5 on your song sheet.

O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels,
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
   (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).


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(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“What Child Is This?” (by William C. Dix, 1837-1898).