For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Christmas is the traditional time of giving, a time to give and receive. When it comes to God what exactly has he given us? What exactly have we received from God? Christmas is about the gift of the gospel. The gift of the gospel is the gift of Christ Jesus. In Isaiah 9:6 we are told by the prophet Isaiah that the gift of Jesus comes in four gifts: the gift of Christ being our Wonderful Counselor; the gift of Christ being our Mighty God; the gift of Christ being our Everlasting Father; and the gift of Christ being our Prince of Peace.
The first gift is the gift of Christ being our Wonderful Counselor. This is the gift of biblical wisdom. But biblical wisdom is knowledge about what’s most important in life, the most important matters in life, knowledge about spiritual things, higher things. Think of all the highly educated people who have gone to universities and graduate schools who cannot answer simple questions like: Who is God? Who am I? Why am I here? Does life have meaning? What is the meaning of life? What is the goal of human history? Is there an afterlife? If so, what’s on the other side? Questions about human origin, human meaning, human morality, and human destiny—these can’t be answered by the wisdom of this world. What we need is wisdom from above. Christ embodies this wisdom from above, and when we receive Jesus, we receive this gift of wisdom.
The second gift is the gift of Christ being our Mighty God. All power and authority have been given to Jesus:
“and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Jesus as the God-Man wields the power of the Almighty God. Jesus wields this power for us. Jesus as Mighty God by virtue of his birth, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into glory demonstrates that Jesus is on our side and empowers us! Yes! We have a friend in the highest place, who died for us, who freed us from the penalty of sin, who has broken the power of sin, and who will free us from the presence of sin! Jesus not only did this for us, but as Almighty God he has gifted us with adoption to become sons of God, and gifted us with the power of the Holy Spirit which is the means by which the Might of God’s power abides in us!
The third gift is the gift of Christ being our Everlasting Father. This has to do with Jesus’ divinity! What’s striking about this third name for Jesus is that God the Father gives Jesus the title “Father.” Now this doesn’t blur the Trinitarian distinction of the personhood of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! But what God the Father is saying is that this promised child that is to be born is every much God as the Father is God! However, I want us to keep in mind that these names of Jesus are gifts of God through Jesus Christ. Jesus as our Everlasting Father means for us that we are members of God’s family, that we are children of God.
The fourth gift is the gift of Christ being our Prince of Peace. St. Augustine famously said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you!” Our age is probably one of the most restless of ages. Why? It’s because so many people are not at peace with God! That is the fundamental problem! We are at war with others; we are at war with ourselves. People don’t know who they are! Why? If you boil it all down—setting aside all the psychobabble and the empty philosophies of our generation—it’s because people are at war with God! We are fighting against God with very fiber of our being because we want to rule our own lives. We want to determine what is good for us, what is fulfilling for us! We are at war with God! And also, God is at war with us! How do you think that war will end? Who will win in the end? John says in Revelation 14:17-19 this:
“Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.”
It won’t end well with us! But the good news is Jesus has overcome this enmity by dying the death we deserved. Jesus as our Great High Priest has bridged the gap, making peace between a Holy God and those who are hostile to him. Peace with God is the fourth gift; because Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we not only have peace with God, we also have the peace of God: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6,7). For us a child is born as Prince of Peace!
In conclusion, the things that we truly need—wisdom/understanding, empowerment, belonging, forgiveness/mercy—are all gifts given by Christ! If you don’t really know Jesus in these ways, my prayer, during this Advent Season, is that you will. My prayer is that Jesus will be your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace!