What Child Is This?

What Child Is This?

Sunday December 4, 2022


We know so little, really. 

Just a few verses in all of the four gospels mention it. 

I’m referring to Jesus’ childhood – Jesus’ growing-up years – Jesus’ youth. 


For this second week of Advent, let’s reflect on “What Child Is This?”

- this child who, when his father Joseph was warned by an angel of an upcoming boy-massacre, fled with His parents to Egypt to avoid being killed by jealous and wicked King Herod – and as such, fulfilling a word spoken by the prophet Hosea that God would call His Son out of Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)

- this child who, a short time later after his father received another angel-message in a dream, returned with His parents to Israel, and settled in Nazareth of Galilea (Matthew 2:19-23) – and as such, fulfilling a word spoken by the prophet Isaiah that a shoot would spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch (or Nazarene) from his roots will bear fruit (11:1)

- this child who grew up together with his family in the village of Nazareth: “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” (Luke 2:40)

- this child who at 12 years of age went with his parents to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover – but who, when everyone else including Mary and Joseph and all their relatives and friends returned home after the festival was over, stayed behind in the Temple in Jerusalem – “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” – and when his mother Mary confronted him on his behaviour, he answered: “Why were you searching for me? … Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house / about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:41-49)

- this child who, nonetheless, returned home to Nazareth with his parents, “and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51)

- this child who continued to grow up and mature for another 18 years, together with his family, in Nazareth: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)


So: what child is this?

This child, from a very early age, understood what it meant to flee from the jealousy and wrath of a violent king for his safety and his life – he knew what it meant to be a stranger in a strange land – he was familiar with being uprooted: from Nazareth to Bethlehem, from Bethlehem to Egypt, from Egypt back to Nazareth, all within the space of just a few years. 

This child, like every child, grew and became strong. But this child, unlike most children, was also filled with wisdom from above, and the grace of God was on him in a special way. 

This child, at 12 years of age, while most other children are playing on the streets, was in the temple courts listening to the teachers of the Law and asking them questions, amazing everyone with his spiritual understanding and answers – completely clear that he had to be in his heavenly Father’s house going about his heavenly Father’s business. 

This child, nonetheless, lived at home with his parents for another 18 years until he was 30: obedient to them, submitting to their authority over him. 

This child over the years grew into a man, continuing to grow in wisdom and stature, and continuing to grow in favour with both God and men. 

This child knew that: 

“Nails, spears shall pierce him through,

the cross he bore for me, for you…”


“This, this is Christ the King…

Let loving hearts enthrone him”.