“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” That is how the apostle Paul felt about the miracle of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ. He wrote this to the Corinthians in his second letter, chapter 9:15. In the NLV, this verse is translated; “Thank God for His Son – a gift too wonderful for words!”
And it is this gift of Jesus that we want to consider again this morning. This time, let’s look at the size of the gift, the vastness, the enormity of the gift of Jesus. Do you remember a time when your perception of the value of a gift was based on its size more than anything else? I sure do. You see all these packages beautifully wrapped under the tree, and your eyes are drawn to the biggest one, “Who’s name is on THAT one?” Little packages are great, but the ones that inspire the most curiosity in a child are the great big ones.
At first glance, the gift of Jesus did come in a small package, a tiny baby, maybe 7 or 8 pounds and 19 or 20 inches long. If you’ve had the privilege of holding a newborn, you know that even the babies that are bigger than average are still pretty tiny; most of them fit nicely in the palms of your two hands. And Mary’s child was no different, just a little handful of squirming baby. But time would show that this was no ordinary child, time would reveal that the size of this gift could not be measured in pounds and inches, over days and months and years and generations, this little child would change the course of history.
The familiar Christmas carol asks the question: “What child is this who laid to rest of Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping?” What child is this?
Indeed, that is what the shepherds must have been thinking as they headed for town, excited to see this baby that the angels had declared to them was the Savior, Christ the Lord.
“What child is this?”
And King Herod, who was approached by a group of wise men from eastern lands who asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him.” The Bible says Herod was “deeply disturbed by their question,” in other words, “What child is this?!”
Even you and I, with the advantage of hindsight, having read about;
- His virgin birth,
- His miraculous deliverance out of Herod’s hand
- His temptation in the wilderness and victory over Satan
- His baptism and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him like a dove as the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- His undeniable miracles and teaching
- His death upon the cross
- His triumphant resurrection from the grave
- His ascension to heaven before the eyes of His disciples
- His powerful manifestation of grace through the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
- And the countless lives made whole throughout the centuries by His love and grace.
Even with 20/20 hindsight, our question might reasonably be the same as those living in the time of Christ: “What child is this?”
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it. The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven.
This shows that God’s Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is far greater than their names. (Hebrews 1:1-4).
In the same way our calendar is divided into the time before Christ’s birth and after His birth, so God separates history into two periods of time in which His voice was heard in the earth. First, “God spoke… through the prophets”, and then, “But now… He has spoken to us through His Son.” God formerly spoke through prophets, but now He has spoken through Jesus Christ, His Son.
And what is God saying to the world through Jesus Christ? What is the message that God wants to convey? Well, this passage in Hebrews gives us at least five specific things that God has said in Christ. Answers to the question, “What child is this?” And looking at what God has said in Christ Jesus will give us a new sense of the size and scope of this “gift too wonderful for words.”
1 – What child is this? He is the desire of the prophets.
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. But now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (John 1:45).
Jesus is the very person Moses & the prophets wrote about!
From the earliest days of history, Israel looked forward to the One whom God would send to fulfill all of the divine prophecies and promises. People began placing their hope in this promised one—the “Seed of the Woman” (Geneses 3:15), a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). He would be the Messiah who would set at liberty those held captive by Satan’s sinful power. From Moses to Malachai, all of the prophets foretell a part of the story. His virgin birth, to His suffering, to His resurrection. Thirty-nine old testament books, written over a thousand years, in various styles and by a wide variety of writers, all breathe an air of expectancy that someone special is coming—one to whom all the prophets have foretold.
Someone has said that you could accurately divide the Bible into three sections:
- Genesis through Malachai – Jesus is coming
- The Four Gospels – Jesus has come
- Acts through Revelation – Jesus is coming again!
Jesus fulfills the desire of the prophets! What child is this? He is the one the prophets have foretold.
2 – What child is this? He is the one who frames history.
God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it. (Hebrews 1:2b).
Look how Jesus binds history together like the cover of a book:
First, from the beginning of the past, “..he made the universe and everything in it.” Unlike us, who were born so that we could live, Jesus lived before He was born. Long before He became the Son of Mary, He dwelt beyond space and time as the only begotten Son of God.
In the opening phrase of the Bible, “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1), the word used for God is the plural, “Elohim.” Elohim is used over 2500 times to refer to God—and at least three times in the creation story—clearly asserting the presence of the Holy Trinity at creation, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
In Colossians 1:17, Paul writes that Jesus was “before all things,” and again in John 1:1 where it states that, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” These scriptures speak of a time that precedes even the creation story of Genesis, a time when nothing existed outside of God.
One of the names attributed to the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 even foretells His eternal existence as it says, “For unto us a child is born… and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace.” The Messiah, Jesus Christ, IS the Everlasting Father. And then the wonderful verse in Psalms where the writer declares “His name shall continue as long as the sun.” Psalm 72:17. The original Hebrew there literally reads, “Before the sun was, His name is YINON.” This verse is the only time this word, YINON, is used in the Bible, and Jewish scholarship agrees that this is a name referring to the Messiah. He was before the sun.
So as we look far into the past, there we find the Son of God, beyond time and matter.
And if we go the other direction, to the culmination of the future, we see that the Son is there. Notice verse two again, “God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance…” Jesus will be receiving as His inheritance all that God has promised. We read of His victory in the book of Revelation, look at chapters 19 through 22, and the culmination of history. And there in the last chapter, Jesus tells John:
“See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13).
So Jesus forms the boundaries of history. He is eternally present at the beginning and end, but that is not all. Verse three of Hebrews chapter one indicates that He is personally involved in the current world, and He is the sustaining power in the universe. He is God of the past, God of the future, and He is also Lord of the present. And that is the third answer to the question, “What child is this?”
3 – What child is this? He is Lord of all.
The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command. (Hebrews 1:3).
Notice how this verse is in the present tense: The Son currently reflects God’s glory, and He presently sustains the universe. Colossians 1:17 tells us that “in Him all things are held together.”
If you’ve ever wondered what the cosmic glue is that keeps the universe together, it is Jesus, “He sustains the universe by the mighty power of His command.” Jesus is doing this right now. And notice that it is not only the physical universe that He sustains. After his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples, “all authority is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18). Heaven and Earth.
All the powers that be are subject to Christ. Sometimes it might seem that He has everything under control, and other times it might seem that things are falling apart. But be assured that He is in charge, Lord of Lord’s and King of Kings, and nothing will happen in heaven or earth outside of His view. He sustains the universe by the mighty power of His command!
The remainder of verse three includes the fourth answer, which is where the gift gets entirely personal.
4 – What child is this? He is the one who met my deepest need.
After he died to cleanse us from the stain of sin, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God of heaven. (Hebrews1:3b).
The message of Christmas is that God came to do for you and me what we could never do for ourselves, cleanse us from the stain of sin by His death on the cross. He was born to die for you. “He died to cleanse us from the stain of sin.” Oh, the pain behind this verse. My sin nailed Him to that cross, my greed, my lust, my pride. He bore the weight of my sin, He paid the price—for the wages of sin is death, and then He overwhelmed death and the grave by rising again to life the third day.
This is the most important answer for you to the question, What child is this? He is the one who meets your deepest need. Have you made that decision to come to Him for cleansing from the stain of your sin? If your answer is yes, then you are in position for the final answer.
5 – What child is this? He is the one creation gathers to worship.
This shows that God’s Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is far greater than their names. (Hebrews 1:4).
Angels are always associated with the Christmas story; the angels brought the plan to Mary and Joseph; the angels announced the good news to the shepherds. And the angels will also be around at the end of the story—around the throne of Jesus. In Revelation 5:11,12 we read;
Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. 12And they sang in a mighty chorus:
“The Lamb is worthy–the Lamb who was killed.
He is worthy to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.” (Revelation 5:11-12).
But not only are the angels gathered there to worship, the next verse goes on to declare that every other creature joins their chorus singing:
And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13).
“Every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth and in the sea,” that pretty much covers everything and everyone, doesn’t it? In Philippians chapter 2, Paul describes this scene when he writes:
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11).
That day is coming. Will you be among those who bow before Christ willingly? in love and honor? Or will you bow before Him grudgingly because it is true? You will bow either way, but if you can settle the question today and repent from your sin and turn to Christ, you will begin to know the wonder and glory of this gift from God that is too wonderful for words. And when someone asks you, “What Child is this?” You’ll be able to say in all honesty, “He is my Lord.”