December 21, 2014: 4th Sunday in Advent

Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we approach Christmas and New Year’s we’re reminded that the time is short. Preparations for both still need to be done. And the most important preparation is: getting our hearts in order for Your coming—both the loving Christmas coming and the end of days coming. Today we ask You to make both possible by means of Your glorious Word of truth. Amen


TEXT: Isaiah 9: 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.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

I have a chime clock in my office and a grandfather clock at the house. I enjoy both. Unlike digital clocks they have a voice and a heartbeat, as it were. Often such a clock is referred to as: the heartbeat of a house. With the passage of each second our lives are winding down, while also winding up to high points—such as the Christmas celebration. This ebb and flow from the mundane to the sublime is a vital aspect of living. One makes us appreciate the other and gets us ready to embrace the other.

The heartbeat of Godly existence and God’s Word is, of course, the Gospel. Today we’re given a profound insight into the Gospel’s meaning for our lives as we consider this glorious text before us.


The Gospel is a promise of God concerning the good news, the great news, of Jesus Christ. And remember: unlike our promises which are often unfulfilled good intentions, God’s promises are etched into the foundation stones of heaven, they are reality. So, 700 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, God gave His people this reality-grounded promise: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.”

We all know that God isn’t talking about an earthly ruler or earthly governments here. Many make the mistake of thinking otherwise. They see all the evil in this world and think: “This supposed son is impotent and powerless. Christmas is not a time of peace, but of terrorism and carnage.” And yet, in “Joy to the World” we sing that verse: “He rules the World, with truth and grace.” Yes, this son is totally distinct because He was and is the Son of God. And ultimate truth, justice, and most importantly: grace comes from Him, alone. How can this all be and how does it play out? Well, let’s see.


“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In this prophecy of God’s Son being born to save the eternal souls of lost sinners, that Son is defined in words that seem paradoxical to the human mind. But remember: we have but One God in Three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. All work together in totally harmony to free us from the chains of sin and death. And Christ was the Point Person is making this happen. Hence the names for Him given here, the first being: Wonderful Counselor. Yes, the Baby Jesus was 100% God and 100% human at the very same time. And He was totally in sync with the Holy Spirit, the Counselor from on High. The Spirit’s work is to implant God’s gift of faith into our hearts and keep it alive and active. Note well how Christ also is united in this effort, thus the name given to Him here: Wonderful Counselor. Indeed, knowing that God Almighty truly loves us enough to care for our every need is Wonderful and beyond human telling!

The second name given to Christ is: “Mighty God.” We usually don’t think of a baby as being very mighty. We also don’t think of God in terms of a baby. It seems so beneath Him. And yet, since Jesus is the God-Man from birth, this Baby is all-powerful. This Baby holds up the universe. This Baby takes the awesome and scary power of God and reduces it down for us to a manageable form—a Baby we can hold. If that’s not comforting, nothing is!

Next comes a conundrum. For this Baby is called: “Everlasting Father.” We can conceptualize the everlasting part. After all, if Christ is truly God’s Son then He is timeless, too. But calling Him: “Everlasting Father?” What’s up with that? Again, although the Father and the Son are distinct, they are totally unified in purpose: saving our souls. Likewise, since both, along with the Spirit, are defined by perfect forgiving love, grace, well; Jesus says it this way: “I and the Father am One.” Ah, the mystery of the Trinity is again held before our eyes and we marvel at it, just as they did in Isaiah’s time.

Now comes the final definition of this foundational Son: “The Prince of Peace.” Perhaps to our ears this is the most beautiful of all these names for Christ, yet it is also the most troubling. We get the royal prince part, but how about the peace part? Every year humans mock this title. They look at the strife in the Middle East, the mini race wars in America, count up the number of armed conflicts around the world and conclude: “there is no peace.” Ah, but what does “peace” really mean? Isn’t all of human conflict and evil a rebellion by arrogant man against God Almighty? But God doesn’t just wipe us from the face of the earth because of it. No, instead He sends His Son to earn eternal peace with Him for us. Christ did this by being born to carry our burdens and sorrows, to suffer in our place, to die in our place, and thereby to win peace, or oneness with God for us. The world may be at war with God, but God isn’t at war with us (good thing!) because Christ came and won eternal peace with Him for us! That’s why Christmas is so exciting and the end times are never totally scary for the believer. We’re at peace with God because of the Prince of Peace!


During these last 15 minutes of this sermon, the clock has ticked off the seconds. And each of you has been transported beyond worry and upset over holiday preparations into God’s reality of peace, solace, comfort and joy. In short, Jesus has lived up to every single Name He’s been given! So, once more God has kept His promise of grace to you in and through Jesus Christ. Continue to focus on that and then such “Ahhhhh” moments as we’ve just lived through will become and norm and not the exception…..Amen