Christmas 2012 - What Child is This?
Isaiah 9: 6 One of the many important decisions confronting new parents is, “What shall we call our baby?” Names are important because once you pick out a name the child will be stuck with it for a long, long time! Babies have no choice in the selection of their names. They have to live with them. Every so often you’ll run across a person with multiple names, such as Charles Phillip Arthur George Windsor. That’s sounds odd until you discover it’s Prince Charles. If you say that is a heavy load to lay on a baby, remember he’s royalty and he needs a long name. So it is with Jesus. Even before his birth, he was a child with many names. The prophet Isaiah, writing 700 years before He was born, prophesied that Messiah would have 4 names: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This verse reveals 4 names for Jesus. Each one unlocks an aspect of his character. They teach who he is and how he can help us today. One of our carols is in the form of a question: “What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” If this morning you have that question in your mind, listen to Isaiah’s divinely-inspired answer. These 4 names speak to us about wisdom, power, security, and assurance. Name # 1: WONDERFUL COUNSELOR It speaks of the wisdom of His plan. The word “wonderful” means “astonishing” or “extraordinary.” The writers of the OT used it for acts of God which man cannot understand. The word “counselor” means “advisor” or “ideal ruler.” This means he is a reliable counselor. Those who come to him will never be led astray. People like Dr. Phil and others all make their living giving advice to other. But they cannot claim perfection. Psychiatrists routinely make R1000 an hour for their counsel. Much of it is good, some not so good. But the Lord goes to no one for advice. And when anyone comes to him, he gives them the counsel they need. He is therefore the perfect teacher and the ultimate counselor. This gives us insight into his working. His plans are not our plans, His ways not our ways. He will accomplish things beyond human comprehension and he will do it in ways we cannot fathom. He will do the greatest work ever accomplished and he will do it successfully. A violent death would not be man’s way to victory but it was God’s plan and our Lord carried it out perfectly. Let me apply the truth this way. As the Wonderful Counselor, he gives wholesome direction to His people. Those who follow him will not walk in darkness but in the blazing light of day. In this tiny baby we see all the wisdom of God wrapped in swaddling clothes. What Child is This? He is the Wonderful Counselor. Name # 2: MIGHTY GOD It speaks of the power of accomplishment. It is first of all a statement of deity. The baby born in the manger is not just the Son of God, he is also God the Son. All the fullness of God dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the ancient creeds declare, he is “very God of very God.” That can never be said of any mere human baby. There is something else important in this title. The word translated “mighty” is the word which means “strong one” or “the powerful, valiant warrior.” Thus the term “mighty God is actually a military title. He is the God who fights for his people! At the Incarnation, God took the form of human flesh. That’s why one of his names is Immanuel–God with us. Now take the first 2 titles together and what do you have? As the Wonderful Counselor — He makes the plans. As the Mighty God — He makes the plans work. All of his wonderful plans will be carried out with all of God’s infinite might. There is in this little baby all the strength of Deity. The power of God is in those tiny fists. He has strength which is divine. The omnipotence of God is at his commands. Whatever he desires, he is able to achieve. When we meet Jesus, we meet God. If He is not the “mighty God,” then we are deceived and it is blasphemy to worship him. There is no middle ground here. If Jesus is but a man, then all we do at Christmas is in vain. At this point it is important that we not give in to the sentimental nonsense that makes Christmas a kind of feel-good, ecumenical holiday. Christmas is the great dividing line of the human race. No wonder some people want all mention of Christmas out of our public schools and from our public life. They understand that Christmas is based on the belief that at Bethlehem the God Incarnate was born. If that is not true, then we are not only wasting our time this morning, we are actually deluded and deceived. We are of all men most to be pitied. But if He is the Mighty God, then when we rely on Him we are relying on God Himself! He is the Mighty God because we need divine aid to help us in our battle. Satan and sin would every day defeat us…..but He is the Mighty God and He has defeated them. In this tiny baby we see the power of God sleeping on Mary’s lap. What Child is this? He is the Mighty God. Name # 3: THE EVERLASTING FATHER It speaks of the purpose of His coming. Hebrew - literally “the Father of Eternity.” He is before, above and beyond time. He is the possessor of eternity. He is eternally like a father to his people. All that a good father is, Jesus is to His people. Because he is like a father, he cares for his people. Because he owns eternity, he can give us eternal life. That’s so important for those of us who live on this sin-cursed planet. No one lives forever. Sooner or later we will also find our own place in the graveyard. We are not immortal, but transitory. We’re here today, gone tomorrow. A dead Christ will do us no good. Dying men need an undying Christ. Here’s a key phrase: He is a father forever! That’s important to me because I had a father, but not a father forever. I had a father, but he is gone now. All human fathers must go. But Jesus is a father forever! He’s just what we need. When my children need anything, I run to help them. If they cry, I go. If they want me, I will come to them. I never kick them out. They belong to me. They are my children. They bear my name. What I am in a poor way to them, Jesus is in a perfect way to all who believe in Him. In this tiny baby we see the love of God sleeping in a stable. What child is this? He is the everlasting Father. Name # 4: PRINCE OF PEACE It speaks of the effect of His coming. Literally means “the prince whose coming brings peace.” This final title is the climax of all that has gone before. The word “prince” means something like “General of the Army.” It speaks of his high position. The word “peace” speaks of his basic nature. All over globe there are conflicts and wars. Closer to home not a day goes by without word that someone else has been murdered in our city. We see so much killing that it no longer surprises us—or even bothers us. We’ve been immune to violence because we live in a violent world. God’s plan for world peace is focused on a one person—a baby asleep in a manger in Bethlehem. He is the ultimate man of peace. *In the past, his coming made peace with God. *In the present, those who come to him find peace in their heart when Christ comes in. *In the future, his second coming will usher in a kingdom of peace. There is no peace today. So much strife and bloodshed. He is not a failure. We are. The ideal has not yet come. Peace is a wonderful thing, but hard to find in this world. It’s worth working for and waiting for. God’s ultimate plan for peace rests not in treaties, or lessons, or progress or material prosperity. God’s Plan for Peace is the Maker of Peace, Jesus Christ. One writer put this way: *The methods of Christ are methods of peace. *The men of Christ are men of peace. *The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of peace. *The principles of Christ are principles of peace. To know Him is to know blessing and happiness. To live without Him is to be, finally, restless and miserable. He is no warrior, no greedy conqueror, no empire builder. He came to bring peace. He did. He does. He will. In this tiny baby we see the peace of God welcomed by angels and shepherds. What child is this? He is the Prince of Peace. In this 1 verse you have the 4 names of Jesus. This is what they mean to us today: If you are confused…He is the Wonderful Counselor. If you are weak…..He is the Mighty God. If you are scared……He is the Everlasting Father. If you are disturbed….He is the Prince of Peace. You never know what may happen in the world because a baby was born. No doubt the innkeeper didn’t know who he was turning away. Even Mary couldn’t fully imagine what it all meant that night. But that baby born in Bethlehem has become the centrepiece of human history. We even divide time itself by his coming—B.C. and A.D. What child is this? He is … the Wonderful Counselor … the Mighty God … the Everlasting Father … the Prince of Peace. “For to us...” The most important part of our verse are the first 3 words - “For to us.” The gift of Christ is a personal gift from God to us. A gift requires a response. If I put a gift under your tree, you may acknowledge it, may admire it, may even thank me for it, but it isn’t yours until you open it and take it for your own. God has a Christmas gift for you……..not wrapped in bright paper and fancy ribbon, but in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…….It is the gift of His Son. It is for you. The gift is still there. It must be personally received. You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look in the Father’s Face and tell Him you have received his Christmas gift. Have you done that? How silently, How silently, The wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts, The blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him still, The Dear Christ enters in. So He does! May this be your experience this Christmas season.