Friday Dec. 6
Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-7
Jesus’ birth is the fulfilment of the unfulfillable promise of Isaiah 9.
When the earliest Christians learned the Christmas story, the immediately thought of the audacious promises of Isaiah 9:6
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NRSV)
Many Jews had long recognized these words could not be foretelling simply another great military and political ruler like King David or King Solomon. Jews would never refer to such a ruler, no matter how great, with terms like “Mighty God” or “Everlasting Father”. Jesus was condemned by the Jewish authorities for blasphemy due to his thinly veiled claims to be divine, after all.
Mysterious words like Isaiah 9:6 gave rise to Messianic expressions of Judaism comprised of those Jews who believed God’s would send a Messiah, a Savior, who would be something much more than their previous kings. So, when they heard the Christmas story, they recognized Jesus as the child Isaiah promised.
Let’s consider for a moment the names this child is given.
Wonderful Counselor – Jesus is our standard and guide for this life. He shows us the way that leads to life and joy and calls us away from the path of death and despair. We often try to go through life based on our own best thinking and then become disillusioned when it doesn’t work out as planned. Jesus offers us a better way to live guided by wisdom on high which we never could have conceived on our own.
Mighty God – In the Jesus, the fullness of God’s power dwells. He could have called upon the angels to catch him as a leaped from the Temple as the devil tempted him to do. He had an angel army at his disposal to take him down from the cross as the hateful crowds suggested he should. If he chooses not to fully use his in certain circumstances he makes this choice for us and our salvation. When we read Jesus’ promises to forgive the penitent, to bear the burdens of the overwhelmed, and to prepare a place for us in paradise we can trust he is fully able to do so.
Everlasting Father – The child in the manger was present at creation. And his birth among us is for the purpose of restoring us to our purpose given at creation to reflect the very image of God. Like a father who see potential in his child which the child cannot yet see, Jesus sees the image of God in us even when it has become so distorted by sin we can no longer recognize it. And like a loving father, he confronts our character defects, challenges us to fully apply our gifts and talents, and gives us the assurance which can only be found by trusting someone much greater than ourselves.
Prince of Peace – Jesus came to end our war with God, with ourselves, and with those who have become our enemies. He offers the peace that can only be found by looking deep within ourselves discovering our need of God’s grace. And with his gift of grace, he creates a common ground upon which we can forgive and seek reconciliation with even our most hated enemies because we, like they, stand constantly in desperate need of grace.
Will you allow the child born in Bethlehem to be your “Wonderful Counselor”?
Your “Mighty God”?
Your “Everlasting Father”?
Your “Prince of Peace”?
Prayer: Jesus, Lord at thy birth, be my Wonderful Counselor and teach me the ways of your kingdom. Be my Mighty God, redeem my corrupted soul and strengthen my faltering spirit. Be my Everlasting Father, prune my wild branches and shape me into something beautiful which reflects my Maker’s glory. Be my Prince of Peace, give to me a penitent heart, wash me whiter than snow, and let the mercy I have received be the mercy I offer. Jesus, be my Messiah. Amen.