The First Sunday of Christmas | December 26th, 2010
Merry Christmas! Our Christmas joy and feasting and gladness continues this morning. In fact, the joy that Christmas brings, the joy of having our God in our flesh and blood, in our place on the cross, and with us in all of our troubles is a joy that knows no end, is a jay and rejoicing that will continue forever and ever, even past death into everlasting life.
We will have this joy this morning in considering the names of Jesus.
There is great joy in parents, when they hold their newborn and look into its face and talk about all the possible names this little child could have. Mary and Joseph did not have this with Jesus, they were told what the Child’s name (or better, names) would be. We know the more familiar ones: “Jesus”, as the angel instructed Mary and Joseph, and “Immanuel” from the prophecy of Isaiah, the promise of the virgin birth in Isaiah 7. “Immanuel” means “God is with us”, and “Jesus” means “The Lord is saving His people from their sins.” These are beautiful names, but the Lord Jesus has more.
In fact, we heard a list of the names of Jesus on Christmas Eve, from the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 9. Here it is again:
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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
There is a Child born for us, given to us, and He will be the great Ruler and King. This is none other than the Messiah, the Savior, our Jesus, but to give us more comfort and joy the Lord gives to the prophet Isaiah four names of this Child. “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These names tell us who this Child is and what He will accomplish.
We’ll take them one at a time, rejoicing as we go.
Wonderful Counselor, or perhaps better, “Counseling Wonder”, the Wonder who Councils, indicates that the Lord Jesus is the Wonder here who stands in the council of God. He speaks to the Father on our behalf, and He reveals the Father to us. We forget sometimes that we would know nothing about God or His love without our Lord Jesus revealing Him and making Him known. “No one has ever seen God; the only God (or, the “only begotten God,” that is, our Lord Jesus), who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)
And how does Jesus make God known to us? Here’s name number two:
Mighty God, or more fully, “God, the Mighty Man.” Can you imagine it. God and man, together in one person, but that is the miracle of our Lord Jesus, the miracle that we celebrate at Christmas and spend our whole lives wondering about. The Almighty God has taken upon Himself our human nature, our flesh and blood. The Creator of all things has a birthday! The One holds the stars in place gets tired after a hard days work. The One who gives and sustains the lives of all creatures gets hungry and thirsty, feels pain, suffers, even dies.
We sing about this mystery in all the great Christmas hymns.
“These are the tokens ye shall mark:
The swaddling-clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid
By whom the heavens and earth were made.” (From Heaven Above, 5)
He whom the sea And wind obey
Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness.
Thou, God’s own Son, With us art one,
Dost join us and our children in our weakness. (O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is, 2)
Once did the skies before Thee bow;
A virgin’s arms contain Thee now,
While angels, who in Thee rejoice,
Now listen for Thine infant voice. Hallelujah! (All Praise to Thee, Eternal God, 2)
But even more wonderful is the reason, the rationale, the motivation behind this mystery. Why did the Lord Jesus take upon Himself our flesh? The answer: so that He could take upon Himself our sin, and our death, and the wrath that we have deserved because of our sin. God becomes a man so that He can become a crucified Man, a dead Man, a laid-in-the-tomb Man. Stunning. All of this mind bending, miraculous stuff is so that the Lord Jesus could be your Savior, to that He could say to you, “I love you,” “Your sins are forgiven.”
And the result of this death and resurrection, well, we see that in the last two names given by Isaiah, Jesus is the “Everlasting Father” and the “Prince of Peace.”
Everlasting Father, and again we hazard a more precise rendering, “Father of Eternity”, the father of everlasting life, and we, dear saints, are His children. Just as our Lord Jesus came from eternity and born into time, we who are born into time have, by the washing of regeneration in our baptism, have been born as the children of eternity. Think about it: the One who has no beginning is born so that we who will die will have no end!
And so our Lord Jesus is our Prince of Peace, the one who has made peace between heaven and earth, between us and God. Remember how Paul gives it to us (Romans 5:1): “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Jesus calms the boiling wrath of God with His blood, wins forgiveness or all our sins. Because of His life and death and resurrection, the Lord smiles upon us and gives us His peace.
So, dear saints, we rejoice that this Child is born for us. Jesus is our Counseling Wonder, God the Might-Man, Father of Eternity and Prince of our everlasting Peace. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO