home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > 24th December > WHAT CHILD IS THIS?


One of the reasons every Christian who deeply loves Jesus the Christ should be thrilled around Advent and Christmas is that the songs that are sung and heard at this time – in churches and shopping malls – are among the most profound theological statements and descriptions of the glorious Christ ever penned! While we sing Hark! The Herald angels sing! as a Christmas carol, when Charles Wesley wrote it in 1739, he wrote it as a hymn of worship celebrating the incarnation, and saving work, of Christ. Just one year before he penned this poem, Charles had encountered the Redeemer himself. The joy of his own salvation is very obvious in this carol – “God and sinners reconciled” was a description of his own experience of coming to Christ. In another hymn that he wrote that same year he penned these amazing words:

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?   

Charles Wesley originally sought to follow in his famous brother John’s footsteps. But he failed miserably as a preacher. He was no preacher. Or was he? History now bears witness to Charles Wesley’s greatness as a preacher through hymns. Five years after writing “And Can It Be” and “Hark!” he wrote his masterpiece Carol – “Come Thou Long-Expected Saviour”.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by Thine own sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.

The high Christology in this Carol is impressive. Charles Wesley has captured Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; and Micah 5:2 in this Carol. Chances are that his brother John had preached multiple sermons on these three texts of Scripture. But chances are that no-one today remembers any of them! But chances are remarkably good that there are tens of thousands of people today who could recite – and even sing – every stanza in Charles Wesley’s “Come Thou Long Expected-Saviour”! And by so doing they would again be meditating on these precious and profound Scriptures about the birth of the promised Messiah who was born to rule the world one soul at a time.


William Chatterton Dix was blighted by a darkness that flooded his soul. In his despair he turned to the Bible and trained his heart to consider the Saviour and Deliverer who was born that first Christmas night. He was deeply struck by the opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel and as he fixed his heart on the truth contained in those first two chapters he found the darkness that had shrouded his soul gave way to the light of the truth. In 1865 he penned these words that summed up the truth that had set him free as he came to see that Christmas and Easter are not two gospel stories, but are intrinsically part of the one story, “Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
the Cross be borne for me, for you”. Dix realised that the message of Christmas was not an irrelevancy but was the plea to both the lukewarm Christian and the unforgiven sinner from the God of the Universe to be reconciled, “Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading”. It was Dix’s hope that the profound truth expressed in his carol could open the eyes of the blind, whether they be a “peasant” or a “king”.

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?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

William Chatterton Dix, 1865, Glasgow U.K.

There is something powerful about the grace of beautiful music cradling the truth of God’s revelation to mankind in song (Col. 1:6).

¶ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:14, 17

The grace and the truth expressed in the classic Christmas Carols brings great joy to this preacher who strives to produce biblically and theologically informed followers of Christ. It’s one the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs that use at Legana because I know that most of my sermons are long forgotten soon after they are preached yet what we sing on a Sunday rings in our hearts for years to come. This is no doubt why singing, music, hymns, has always been integral to Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). The consolation that us forgettable preachers have though is that most good song-writers were, and are, biblically/theologically informed by faithful preachers. May the magnitude of what we sing this Advent grip our hearts, enlighten our souls and fill us each with joy inexpressible. Merry Christmas.


Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. LYDIA

    “There is something powerful about the grace of beautiful music cradling the truth of God’s revelation to mankind in song (Col. 1:6).”
    There is Andrew.

    Without many knowing they are still singing the Truth of Scripture, the Gospel which we rejoice in – The Immanuel, God with us. Michael Card does a splendid job too in singing his Christmas song.

    “It’s one (of) the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs…”. Thank you Andrew!

    This was THE first thing that hit me when I sat on the Legana Christian Church’s seat…no pews:)…that the music was as I had been used to for 12 years back in NSW, where we also had a preacher who was a faithful gate-keeper of the music used in the church services there. So this meant I knew I was at ‘home’ here. I knew that if the music was sound, theologically sound, then all would be well, irrespective of whether I knew anyone at all in the congregation itself. It was indicative of what I heard and would eventually listen to every single Sunday, the Truth of God’s Word. I guess one could say they go hand in glove. This gives or has given to me anyway security and trust.

    God is good indeed! Praise God for faithful preachers everywhere who use the songs written in love towards Him and have done throughout the ages, coupled with the preaching, to feed their sheep and honour and adore Him!

    Thanks for the Pastor’s Desk writings this year!

    • Wendy Williams

      Beautifully and sincerely written Lydia, and God has blessed all at Legana with your presence in our community.

      • LYDIA

        Thank you Wendy:)

      • LYDIA

        Thank you Andrew. God is good…

  2. Alan

    Totally agree with these excellent thoughts, Andrew. Well done. It will be no surprise to you that I am a big advocate of keeping the great hymns of the faith alive by using them in worship not just at special seasons, but throughout the year. Their words are rich in meaning and they were written to be very suitable for congregational singing without needing complex musical backing.

  3. Wendy Williams

    Andrew, thank you to you and the whole Corbett family for such dedication to Christ. And for the sacrifices you all make to enable the Legana community to access Jesus teachings and the excellent biblical knowledge transfer via Andrew’s Spirit filled gift of the truthful, outpouring of God’s love.

    Not an easy gig, but one undertaken by you Andrew, with grace filled commitment, proving how our present reality is supported, day after relentless day, with Jesus gift to us of the Holy Spirit. For Christians, nothing is “happenstance” or “coincidence”. Our lives are daily impacted by the Holy Spirit. It’s only a matter of saying Yes to Christ.

    Picked that up from some bloke standing at a gate, spruking the love of God😁👍.

    • Legana Christian Church

      Thank you Wendy. That’s very gracious of you. You are a great encouragement to me and to many in our church family.


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Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 


Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…


We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.


Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!


THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.


Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 3 – Before He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal LBefore He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal Lordord

For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.


The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better.