"He Shall Be Called ..."
December 1, 2001 - It's possible for Jesus to get lost in the hustle and bustle of this season—even for those of us who love Him. We're pushed and pulled from this gathering to that gathering, and it is possible for us to lose track of the One for whom the season exists.
by Frank Riley
A few years ago in the town where we lived, there was a house that had a lot of Christmas lights. These people not only had lights, they had lights on lights on lights! Our family had a wonderful time visiting the home and seeing the lights.
As we walked back to our car, we noticed the house next door. Along the roof edge was a single strand of colored lights, and most of these lights were unlit. A porch light was on, and under a tree stood a little manger scene. The wind had knocked over the figures of Mary and Joseph, which lay partially buried in fallen leaves.
I had my daughter Cora's hand in mine, and together we walked into the front yard, cleared the leaves and set up the figures of Mary and Joseph. This unobtrusive display became for us a place of worship, a place where heaven was seen.
I thought, "How like the world that is." Even while we kneeled in somebody's front yard and enjoyed an incredible moment of worship in God's presence, the whole world was just passing it by. Not even a look into that mangy display, because of the lights next door. Then I thought, "How like the Christmas story that is!"
In the Gospel of Luke we read, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up to the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."(1)
Jesus—the King of kings and the Lord of lords—was born in absolute obscurity. He is the One for whom the whole world exists,(2) the One who the Bible says holds all things together.(3) And He holds us together today.
In Isaiah we read, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."(4)
The Bible says that He shall be called:
Our English translations of that word don't communicate the full strength of the name, because the verb tense sounds odd. Rather than the adjective "wonderful," the word is the verb "wonder."
In Judges 13:18, the English version, God says that His name is "beyond understanding."(5) But in Judges 13:18, in Hebrew, the word used is "wonder": "Why do you ask My name? It is Wonder." It's too marvelous for comprehension, too outstanding for words.
The Old Testament usage of the word "wonder" tells us that Jesus is not Someone who is merely extraordinary; He is One who in His very Person and Being is Wonder. He is that which surpasses human thought and power. He is God Himself.
There's a certain uniqueness about the name Counselor. It suggests that this One has no need to be surrounded by counselors and advisers as human kings are. Rather, Jesus Himself is the Counselor.
"The mighty God"(4)
In Isaiah 10:21 we read, "A remnant of Jacob will return to the mighty God."(6) The word in Hebrew is "èl gibbor." In Hebrew "èl" means God and "gibbor" means Hero. Jesus will be the Hero God. That's exactly who He is. He invades us in time and space to rescue us! Our Hero.
"The everlasting Father"(4)
He's not longing for the empty nest—"Oh, when are these children going to leave?" When our earthly fathers die, we might say, "I remember Dad." God is the Dad who never ceases to be our Father. Our dads are our fathers only for
a time, but He is everlasting.
"The Prince of Peace"(4)
The greatness of the name of Jesus is established in peace rather than through war. Think about the people throughout history whose greatness resulted because of war. George Washington led the revolutionary troops to battle. Abraham Lincoln held the United States together by moving the Union Armies forward. Napoleon Bonaparte. William the Conqueror. All became great in battle.
The greatness of God's name is not in the establishment of warfare but in the establishment of peace. Not just a cessation of hostilities but a restoration of relationship.
Today in the world there is the potential for the outbreak of further and greater hostilities and violence than we have ever seen before. The hostilities are not new; they have been there for centuries. Even now, there are those who would come to the table to try to negotiate peace. What they're really trying to negotiate is a cease-fire. It's the best that they can do. For there to be peace, all the memories of hostilities past would need to be taken away. The parties would have to come to the table to seek, not cease-fire, but relationship.
In our relationship with Christ, Jesus says that all the hostilities between Him and us can end, because He has taken away all of the wrongs that have caused the hostilities. So we can have peace. God says, "I'd like to have peace with you."
What Christmas Is All About
Throughout time God has come to us saying, "I want to give you My heart. I want to give you My life. I took on human form. I placed Myself in a manger. I grew up to suffer and die for you. I did all that to tell you how much I love you."
And throughout time the voice of the Master asks us, "Won't you love Me too?"
Christmas is all about His love for us—about His coming for us—about His stooping low for us.
The question is, what will you do about Him? Christ has given us one gift to give back to Him: It's our hearts.