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What Child is This?

What Child is This?

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

As the church of Jesus Christ, we celebrate Isaiah’s prophetic announcement every year at this time. Yet, there is more embedded in this verse than the story of a baby in a manger. This child was being sent to unveil God’s new covenant with man. When God gave us His New Covenant, He didn’t set up a new system with a new set of rules. Instead, He sent us a person. In short, Jesus is the new covenant that God sent.

Matthew 1:18-25 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

What child is this? Many children were born at that time. How does this child born in a manger 2000 years ago signify a new covenant between God and man? How does that affect every day of our life?

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John’s gospel helps us to understand who this child is and what difference this child makes in our life. John doesn’t mess around with a lot of details. No angel visitations, no traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, no manger scene. Instead he gets right to the point of Jesus’ birth and he summarizes the whole reason for the birth by saying this, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Jesus is the Word, and the Word was around long before the child was laid in the manger. In fact, He was there in the beginning of time. He was a part of creation. He spoke it into existence. And John reveals that the Word is Jesus, and Jesus is God. Jesus is God come in the flesh. This is more than just a human child, He is God with us, Immanuel.

God came in the flesh to walk among us, to experience the same ups and downs we do, the same temptations, the same heartbreaks, even to experience a brutal death on a cross. Why would He do this? Why would He leave the splendor of Heaven and come to the darkness of earth as a weak human infant, named Jesus?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God loved us, and He also had a covenant with mankind that promised a Messiah—a Savior. The Old Covenant was simply a set of rules based on conditions. It stated, “If you do this or that, then God will give you life. But if you don’t, you’ll miss God’s blessing and suffer eternal death.”

Of course, the people constantly fell short of God’s standard. So they constantly offered blood sacrifices to atone for their sin. But, they were unable to keep His law, which was holy and pure. As a result, their lives were filled with guilt, shame, and despair. This prevented the intimacy that God desired with us. So He became one of us to fulfill the Old Covenant and establish a New Covenant with His blood, which was a mixture of God and man. Think about that. His DNA made Jesus fully God and fully man. No other blood has this combination.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Also, in Matthew 26:27-28 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Under the New Covenant, God’s law was no longer an external standard to strive for. Instead, His law would be written on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 

In the New Covenant, we are filled with the Holy Spirit — the very life of God Himself — to enable us obey His holy Word. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us that we might have this newness of life and intimacy with the Father.

Let’s consider three results this New Covenant. The first result we can experience from the “Word becoming flesh”, and probably the most important, is that we can become children of God. Yet to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

God wants every person on earth, every person here, to be His child. We are not automatically God’s children. Just because we are born into this earth, just because we attend church, doesn’t mean we are God’s children. We must be born again of the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, to become God’s child. As it says in John’s Gospel, we are given the right to become a child of God when we believe that Jesus came in the flesh and have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. When we believe and are baptized in His Name for the forgiveness of our sin, we are born again of the Holy Spirit and we receive all the benefits of being God’s children.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

When we are born again as children of God we receive an inheritance, the same inheritance Jesus, the Son of God, received. This inheritance includes: forgiveness, eternal and abundant life, light, blessings of love, joy, peace—all the fruit and power of the Holy Spirit, and God’s discipline. God works His character in us so that we are able to endure the suffering of this world and be His witness so others may believe in Jesus. Those, who keep the faith through suffering, will receive all this and Christ’s treasures in Heaven, which will endure forever.

The second result we experience, because God came to earth, is life. Verse 4 says, “In Him was life.” Man’s sin brought death upon the earth. This child brought life. Here was the Creator of the universe, who breathed life upon the earth. God has come in the flesh to bring life back to us. In fact, John repeats this over and over in his gospel, that Jesus has come so that we might have life. He even concluded his gospel by stating this:

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

God came to earth because He wants us to experience “life,” and by that, He means two things. First, God wants us to experience eternal life. He wants us to live forever with Him in Heaven. Jesus stated many times that no one could experience eternal life without believing in Him.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.

Second, having life refers not only to a future but to a present reality. We can live an abundant life right now, because of Jesus.

Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Without Jesus, we cannot live life to the fullest, we cannot have abundant life, and we cannot receive eternal life, because He is the source of life and every good thing!

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Do you know what happens when we don’t receive His life? We experience selfishness, pride, hopelessness, guilt, anger, bitterness, and broken relationships. Are you experiencing any of these? God doesn’t want that for your life.

God came in the flesh two thousand years ago so you could experience His joy, His peace, and His love right now, every day and forever. There was no other way for us to receive His life except for Him to come in the flesh, just like you and me. Would you say you are living a full, abundant life? If not, maybe it means you have not received His life. You are still living your old sinful life.

Thirdly, God came in the flesh, not only that we might receive life, but so we could receive His light. John goes on to say in verse 4, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Whether we like to believe it or not, our world is shrouded in darkness. It has been shrouded in darkness since the very first man and woman sinned. It is shrouded in darkness now because people follow the darkness, they make bad choices, say sinful things, and do sinful things.

We like to think the world is getting better, but the reality is darkness still remains and will always remain until every person on earth receives Jesus, the light. God came to earth so that we can escape the darkness, even the darkness which is inside of us.

The light came into the world, as a baby in a manger, so that we might receive the light and never have to walk in darkness again. When Jesus left the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit to be His light. Part of receiving God’s light into our life is allowing the Holy Spirit to enter and light up all areas of our life, including the ugly stuff. Darkness has power when it stays in the dark. Once it is exposed to the light, it loses its power.

One of the ways we open ourselves to the light is to ask God for forgiveness for the dark, sinful areas in our lives. God won’t be shocked by our confession, because He already knows. Just let Him set you free and fill you with the light of the Holy Spirit.

The second way to let God’s light in is by telling one other person we trust. Once the “Cat is out of the bag”, our dark area loses its power in our life. The greatest mistake we can make is to keep our darkness a secret, because we will never experience the Holy Spirit’s complete light in our life.

What child is this, whose birth we commemorate? The Scriptures that answer this question make enormous claims. Those claims are either true or they constitute one horrendous lie. After honestly examining the Scriptures, no man can entertain an opinion of indifference regarding Jesus. If he has considered the subject at all, he must worship Christ or crucify Him. What will you do this morning?

The Scriptures tell us that this child was God’s gift, His only Son, whose blood would establish a New Covenant with mankind. This New Covenant gives us an opportunity to become a child of God, receive His life, and His light—the Holy Spirit.

Have you entered into God’s New Covenant by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, you have nothing to celebrate this week or anytime of the year, for you have a sentence of eternal death and damnation upon your head. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself, but you must receive His forgiveness by believing in Him, repenting of your sin, and giving Him your life through water baptism, so you can be born again of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be a child of God and inherit all the promises of God, including forgiveness, life, light, love, and Heaven. What better gifts could you possibly receive this week?