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Let Loving Hearts Enthrone Him


One of the lines of the Christmas hymn What Child is This? encourages people to respond to the newborn Jesus by submitting to his kingship: 'Let loving hearts enthrone him'. This begs a very important question: why would it ever be appropriate to enthrone as baby as king of your life?

The answer lies in the identity of the baby, probed by the question what child IS this? Before I explore this further, let me comment that there are basically two kinds of people:

  • People type 1: those who think every baby is cute, regardless of who they are.
  • People type 2: those who think babies they know, are cute.

People type 1 love babies everywhere; people type 2 love those babies they know. Although these are different ways of evaluating baby cuteness, these two types tend to share this perspective: we care about babies we know; identity fuels concern.

In other words, it is the narrative around a baby - their story, their identity, their proximity to our lives - that causes us to care in particular about a specific baby. And with Jesus, the reason we are invited to enthrone him, to care at all about His identity, is precisely because of his identity. But enthronement requires more than recognition, it requires willing submission. Let's explore this deeper.

What child is this?

The first verse of the famous hymn asks an important question: 

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? 

The various birth narratives about Jesus recorded in scripture all provide descriptions of who this baby is. We're not asked to worship a nameless, story-less, baby; we are provided meaning to the significance of this birth. Consider these examples:

  • Luke 1.31-33: You shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
  • John 1:1,John 1:14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • Matthew 1:21: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
  • Luke 2:8-11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

If we take all these together, here's what we can say about the baby who was born: 

  • The Son of the Most High God
  • The Son of David
  • The King who reigns forever
  • The eternal Word
  • God who became man
  • The Saviour
  • The Christ
  • The Lord
  • The one who saves from sin

That's quite a resume! Especially when, at that time, Jesus hadn't done anything. This is not to imply that this baby Jesus isn't going to do things - he will grow up and he is going to do his saving. But it does remind us that at the moment of his birth, He is worthy of worship because of who he is - his identity

A Saviour, Christ the Lord

The announcement from the angels to the shepherds includes this amazing statement: the baby born is the saviour, he is the Christ, and He is the Lord:

Saviour: To say that He is the Saviour is to indicate that he will do what the angel told Joseph - 'He will save his people from their sins'.

Christ: This is the Greek word for the Hebrews Messiah - the promised deliver. Jesus is the one promised through all the Old Testament - God keeps his word, and his promise is here.

Lord: The Greek word kyrios, translated as Lord or master. Jesus is not only Saviour, but Lord.

Though there is scope for drilling deeper into all these titles, let's reflect for a moment on the Lordship of Christ. This is a theme that runs throughout the New Testament:

Luke 6:46 In commenting on the importance of obedience, Jesus asks, 'Why do you call me ‘LordLord’, and not do what I tell you?'

John 20:28 Upon encountering the resurrected Jesus, Thomas responds, 'My Lord and my God!'.

Acts 2:36 Peter concludes his sermon on the day of Pentecost by saying, 'Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified'.

Acts 16:31 Paul and Silas explain to the Philippian jailer how to respond to the gospel: 'And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved'.

Romans 10:9 In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains how both faith and submission work together in salvation: 'If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved'.

Colossians 2:6 In his letter to the Colossians, Paul reminds the believers that their relationship with God began by submitting to Christ as Lord, and he encourages them to keep going: 'Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him'.

The song confirms the answer given in Scripture. 

This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing Haste, haste, to bring Him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary.

A Fitting Response

What child is this? also tells us how to respond:

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, Come Peasant, King to own Him. The King of Kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

We're also given an indication of how to respond to Jesus:

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh; come Peasant, King to own Him. The King of Kings salvation brings; let loving hearts enthrone Him.

By answering the question what child is this?, we are positioned to respond appropriately. 

Because He is the Lord:

  • Christ is worthy of our worship (bring him laud)

  • Christ is worthy of our best (bring him gold, frankincense and myrrh)

  • Christ is worthy of our submission (let loving hearts enthrone).

Practically, this simply means we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus over the entirety of our lives - the way we use time, our money, our talents, our careers, our families. The Lordship of Jesus touches everything; if we get this right, the other stuff will fall into place. So this week determine that you're going to make room for Jesus by daily enthroning him as Lord.