What Child Is This?

Read: Mark 4:35-41

And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (v. 41)

One of the most beautiful old English tunes is “Greensleeves,” which dates at least to the Middle Ages and was mentioned by Shakespeare. In the 19th century another of those prolific Anglican hymn writers named William C. Dix wrote the lovely words of “What Child Is This?” to fit this tune.

It’s a good question: what child is this? As we see with faith’s eye the baby with Mary his mother watching over him in the stable, and realize that at the same time this helpless infant is the eternal Word of God through whom all things were made, we should be filled with wonder. It reminds us of the question his disciples would later ask, after they saw him silence a stormy lake with a single word of command. “What manner of man is this . . . ?” (Mark 4:41 KJV). And just as the disciples were awestruck and frightened when they caught a glimpse of Jesus’ true nature, so Dix urges us to a kind of reverential fear at the sight of God lying in a feed box. Why lies He in such mean estate, / Where ox and ass are feeding? / Good Christian, fear: for sinners here / The silent Word is pleading.

But we need to do more than wonder at the mystery of God made man. We need to respond to him appropriately. So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh, / Come, peasant, king to own Him. / The King of kings salvation brings; / Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

As you pray, offer Jesus your heart as his throne, today and every day.

Listen along: What Child is This – Don Francisco

About the Author

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.

This entry is part 16 of 25 in the series Carols and Lessons