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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Keeping the Gospel in Christmas

What Child is This? is a well-known carol written by William Chatterton Dix, first published in 1871. Bill (if I can call him that) was a manager for an insurance company in the UK. After a severe illness, he underwent a spiritual renewal. He ended up writing several poems, including The Manger Throne, from which this song was taken.
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?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
The song asks questions. This one is "What child is this?" Who is Jesus? The answer is loud and clear: Christ the King. He is guarded by shepherds and lauded by angels. He is the son of Mary. But He is none other than Christ, the King.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
The second question, then, is "why?" Why is He in a stable? "Mean" is a reference to "lowly", not "unkind". And, in that, what is He doing here?

The call is for fear. Fear? "Good Christians, fear." The Babe, silent here, is the Word of God (John 1:1) made flesh. And He pleads for sinners. So fear Him, respect Him, hold Him in reverential awe.

Why is He here? Jesus was born to die. "Nails, spear shall pierce Him through." Beyond that, He was born to die for you and me. This is the point of Christmas. God became flesh to die for us -- this Babe, this Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
At last, then, is our response. Christ, the King, is come in humble attire, the Word made flesh, to die for you and me. In response, we need to enthrone Him in our hearts. In a quite unique twist, we are to respond in joy that this baby was born to die. Not just any baby -- God, the Son.

When you celebrate Christmas this year and you try to keep Christ in Christmas, remember that the celebration isn't just about His arrival; It's about His purpose and the sacrifice He came to make on our behalf so that you and I can be made right with God. Truly something marvelous. Truly something to celebrate. We must absolutely keep Christ in Christmas, but, more to the point, we must keep the Gospel in Christmas.

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