To Us A Child Is Born!
A sermon based on Isaiah 9:2-7
Sunday, December 18, 2016 – Advent 4B
(Children's Christmas Program)
Aaron, Abner, Abraham, Adam, Adan, Ahmad… Every day, expectant parents around the world ask, "What should we name the baby?" And so they read books like "The Very Best Baby Name Book Ever" and "Biggest Book of Baby Names."
Well, Mary and Joseph didn't have to go through all that. Gabriel told them what to name the baby: Jesus, which means, "He saves." But even before the angel announced his name, this little baby had already been given a name. 700 years before he was born the prophet Isaiah gave him several names. And every one of them fit perfectly.
This morning we'll take a look at those names and see how Jesus, a.k.a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace came for us. To us a child was born. He came to bring us a perfect victory. He came to bring us a lasting peace. Isaiah 9:6-7 read…
6 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. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
I. To Bring Us Perfect Victory
What wonderful names God gave the promised Messiah through the prophet! They described not just who the Messiah would be, but what he would do. Isaiah saw in this little baby, the Savior that we need.
"He will be called… Mighty God," Isaiah wrote. And how we need a God who is mighty! Let's face it. As tough as we want to appear to everyone, we're weak—at least when it comes to spiritual matters. On our own, we're walking in darkness. We can't see where we are or where we're going. Deceived by Satan, influenced by the world, led into sin by our own sinful natures, we can do nothing but sin. We rebel against God not only in what we do, but in what we say, in what we think, and in what we don't do.
We sin with our bad priorities in forgetting God in regular worship or in our budgets. We sin when we think we're strong enough to make him love us. We sin when think we only need a little help from God, as if to say, "Nice work on the cross, Jesus, but I'll take it from here."
And even when we do something "good," we ruin it with our selfish motives. I give to a charity, but not out of love for God. I do it because it makes me feel good about myself—like I'm not really that bad. How full of sin we are!
But even if we fool others—even if we fool ourselves—we can't fool God. Because just as it only takes one pinprick to pop a balloon, so it only take one sin to destroy the perfection that God demands of us. We are stuck in sin, "living in the land of the shadow of death," Isaiah said in the verses preceding our text—with eternal death in hell our deserved fate after our physical death.
And there's nothing we can do about it. We can't undo what we've done. We can't unsay what we've said or un-think what we've thought. We can't achieve perfection any more than we can glue a popped balloon back together. How weak we are! In fact, we're worse than weak. By nature we're spiritually dead. We need a miracle—an act of God.
And that's exactly what we have in our Mighty God. Though he hardly seemed mighty as an infant, laying in a trough in a barn smelling of manure… though he hardly seemed mighty as he walked this earth as a poor, homeless man… though he hardly seemed mighty as he hung on the cross being tortured to death for a crime he didn't commit… what a Mighty God he is!
He had the strength and power to defeat our enemies. In fact, that's why he left heaven. That's why the Mighty God humbled himself to be born as a lowly child—to win a victory for us.
As Mighty God, he had the strength to live a perfect life, never sinning—even once! And he gave that perfection to us. As Mighty God that death on the cross could pay for not just one person's sin, but for the sins of the entire world! And by his mighty power he shattered the yoke of guilt that once burdened us. He shattered the bar of sin across our shoulders. He shattered the rod of our oppressor when he undid Satan's work, figuratively crushing his head on the cross. Our Mighty God won the perfect victory for us! To us a child is born!
"And he will be called Wonderful Counselor…" What does a counselor do? He or she gives counsel or advice, helps you with your problems, and gives you the encouragement you need to keep going. Our Wonderful Counselor didn't just win a perfect victory for us, but he brings it to us in his Word. There he advises us how to be rid of our sin: "Trust in me and in my work on the cross," he says, "Do nothing. It's already done." He advises us how to live our lives in thanks for what he's done. And he encourages us, reminding us that though he may not shatter every burden of suffering we face right now, he will when he takes us to glory. And that truth brings us lasting peace…
II. To Bring Us Lasting Peace
"And he will be called… Prince of Peace," Isaiah wrote. And in the preceding verses: "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire." The soldiers' boots and bloodstained clothing could be burned in the fire because they would no longer be needed. When the Messiah would come there would be perfect peace.
But wait a second! Jesus did come! He was born more than 2000 years ago! So where's this perfect peace? There are still wars throughout the world. There are still conflicts on the streets, gang activities, murders, rapes filling the headlines. And even in our own homes there seems to be little peace: There are bitter fights among family members, sickness and surgeries, and financial troubles that leave us feeling anything but peaceful. And we may feel like shouting at Isaiah, "You have no idea what you're talking about!"
But he knew what he was talking about. He wasn't talking about a physical or political peace or a world without problems. He was talking about peace… with God. Through Christ and the forgiveness of every one of our sins, we appear holy and perfect to him. And so we're no longer at war with a holy God who must pour out his wrath against sinners. He already poured out his wrath on Jesus. Because of Christmas (which allowed for Good Friday) you and I are free from sin, death and hell. We have peace with God. And no matter what turmoil we go through, this peace can never be taken away.
"And he will be called… Everlasting Father," Isaiah wrote. "Of the increase of his… peace there will be no end. He will reign… over his kingdom… upholding it… from that time on and forever."
We may fight to win a war and establish peace in some country, but as soon as we leave, some new enemy could quickly rise up and destroy that peace. But that's not the case with God. Just as God has no beginning, so he has no end. Jesus always was, always is, and always will be. And so, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever," (Hebrews 13:8) his work will always last. The peace with God he won for us will never be lost.
In fact, the peace he's established can only increase. His peace will increase as we grow in our faith and learn more and more to put our trust in him and in his promise "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…" (Romans 8:28) His peace will increase as we let go of the petty arguments and the worthless stuff we cling to and realize that soon enough heaven itself will be ours. His peace will increase as we share the message with others—the message of the cross and why he came to be born as a child. And finally, it will increase and become a perfect peace with no more war, or suffering, or struggles or pain, when he takes to heaven forever. This Christmas we receive the blessed gift of heaven!
So amid the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, dear friends, remember this little baby's name: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Remember that your sins are forgiven, satan has been crushed, hell has been conquered, because to us a child was born, to us a son was given. So now, you have a perfect victory in him! And matter what burdens weigh you down, you can rejoice because one hundred years from now, whatever troubles you today won't matter. This Christmas we receive the blessed gift of heaven. And soon we'll all enjoy the perfect, eternal peace that God gave through this child born to us. In his name, dear friends, amen.