Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah spoke this great prophecy about Him. His coming would be a time of great joy like the joy of people bringing in the harvest, or the joy of victory in battle. In a time of darkness, a light would dawn. God would shatter the oppression people were experiencing.
How? For unto us a child is born. At Christmas we celebrate the coming of that child. It is Jesus who is the light breaking into the darkness. It is Jesus who sets people free. It is Jesus who brings the rejoicing.
Lots of things are said about Him in these verses. The government will be on His shoulders. He will rule. He will be the President or the Prime Minister or, actually, the King. It will be a time of peace and it will never end. He will reign on David’s throne in righteousness and justice for ever and ever.
It is an absolutely magnificent prophecy. Who does not long for peace and righteousness and justice, especially in a world of incredible chaos like ours? What a magnificent promise. And what a magnificent person was foretold. And what a magnificent person Jesus turned out to be.
His magnificence is, in part, summed up in four titles that Isaiah gave Him. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
Over the last few weeks we have been looking at some of the title given to Jesus and we finish with this passage. What do these four things say about Jesus?
A counsellor is someone who gives advice. A wonderful counsellor gives wonderful advice.
We are surrounded by so many views. How to have a happy life. How to be a great parent. How to make money and be successful. The political divide in America (but perhaps throughout the western world) highlights conflicting views on how countries should be run and how we should all live. We have massive confusion over gender issues and social issues. There are plenty of people who will rant and rave against Christianity and some Christians are not above ranting and raving. We have Trump and Brexit and Chinese espionage and maybe fake drones over Gatwick airport. Has the world gone completely mad?
In the middle of all that, we have one whose words are truth and whose ways genuinely do lead to peace and joy. Jesus is a wonderful counsellor.
Mighty God. This is very strange. This child is said to be God and not only God but the powerful, mighty God. A vulnerable human new-born will be called Mighty God. A tour guide I had in Israel – a Christian – said this is one of the passages Christians can share with Jews who do not believe in Jesus. They do not believe that God became a human but this passage in their Bible tells of a child who is God.
These things would be irreconcilable. How can you have a human who is God? But in Jesus it was true. Who could have imagined how God would do this but He did. Jesus was born of a virgin and would be Immanuel (God with us) as Isaiah had prophesied two chapters earlier). He was both God and man.
Not only does the title talk about the incredible mercy of God coming into our world. It says that our Saviour is Mighty God. He can do anything. He is in control even when the world seems out of control. He can care for us and protect us but also perform miracles for us and through us.
Everlasting Father. Here there is an apparent contradiction and a puzzle. How can He be everlasting if he is about to be born? He is not eternal if he has a beginning. Except that, in Jesus, we see the impossible being achieved. Jesus had existed with the Father from all eternity. Nevertheless, at just the right moment, He was born into this world. Both can be true.
But what does it mean to call Him “Father”. Isn’t His Father the Father and isn’t He the Son? Was Isaiah confused? I don’t think anywhere else Jesus is called a father.
But, Jesus did say, “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30, 38) and “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-10a). Jesus is the perfect revelation of the Father.
But, in addition, “father” is used in the Bible to mean a leader or a ruler but it is used to indicate the nature of the ruler. He is like a father. He is kind and compassionate and protecting and strong. The Messiah will be the everlasting ruler who is always loving. That is incredible, isn’t. it? By faith in Jesus, we can become citizens in His Kingdom which he rules like the very best, most benevolent father.
Prince of Peace. The very next words are, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” An everlasting peace.
The problem is: some people would say there has been no beginning. Where is this promised peace? If anything at all, our divided, fractious world shows that Jesus has not brought peace. And so He cannot be the one Isaiah prophesied.
We, of course, Jesus has brought peace. Millions of individuals can testify to the peace they have, knowing they can trust Jesus. And individuals and families and communities and nations have been reconciled by Jesus.
But it is true: there is not yet world peace. Not yet. But can we believe that that day is coming? Faith says, “Even though I do not yet see it, I believe it because God has said it.” When we take everything else into account
- All of the prophecies that have been fulfilled by Jesus
- What we see in the scriptures of His life and His teaching – His compassion, His power. His mercy, His authority
- The love that led Him to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world
- His resurrection
- The testimonies of generations upon generation who have discovered Jesus to be just as He is described here
When we take all of those things into account, can we believe that Jesus is the Prince of Peace who will bring eternal peace to the world?
These titles say some huge things about Jesus. How absolutely incredible that God should give His Son and that Hs Son should be so amazing. How absolutely incredible that we can know this Saviour and we can experience the truth of all of these claims.
Christmas. God came into our world in the person of Jesus: wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.