“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel…And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (from Isaiah 7:14; 9:6)
Back in Bible times, a name was far more than just a way to address individuals – names were given to identify something about one’s character or personality… or were reflective of an event in that person’s life.
Simon Peter is an example. He was simply known as Simon until he was the only disciple to openly confess that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16). From that time on, Jesus called him “Peter” which meant “rock” (as reflective of Jesus’ conversation with Simon about the “rock upon which I will build My Church”).
The point is that names tell us something ABOUT the person – and in some cases, many names were given to describe a great deal about that person.
This is the case for the promised Messiah. Hundreds of years before Jesus ever appeared, He already had many names attached to Him… to describe and identify Him. Names that were reflective of His Character. His qualities and attributes as a person. These names are so connected to the person.. they are His identity. How He shall be known…
Before Jesus was ever born in Bethlehem, He was known by His Names. The things He would be and do were identified before He ever took a breath upon this earth.
Over the next two days, let’s take the time to just see, and understand, the qualities of our Lord and Savior who was born to us on that first Christmas night…
He has the name, Immanuel. As we have already seen, this means “God with us.” One of our most significant problems, as humans, is that God can often seem so distant from us. Most of our issues stem from thoughts that “God is so Mighty and Holy He can’t possibly want to “hang out” with us.” But when Jesus came God was making a divine statement: “I am God. I am here. I want to be here with you. I chose to come to you. I am Personal. I am love.” “God with us” identifies Jesus as Present in our lives – and tells us that He is with us because He wants to be with us.
He is also named Wonderful Counselor. In the fact that God is with us, He is not just standing there to be critical of everything we do. He is actively (and positively!) involved in our lives. Guiding us in His wisdom. Counseling us in our times of need. Comforting us in hardship. Providing direction when the way seems so dark. And doing it all with an abounding sense of love and compassion for our weaknesses. He is not only “God with us” – He is God, our Personal Advisor… and His advice is extraordinary (literally creating a sense of wonder at how perfect and pertinent His advice is, for us).
Before we continue looking at the names of our Savior (tomorrow!)… When was the last time you considered the personal Nature of God? That He is not just some detached angry Ruler in Heaven who is only intent upon getting His way – and upon making everyone abide by His rules… or else. So many people have this picture of God, locked in their minds… continually keeping their hearts at a “safe” distance from Him.
If there is one thing we all need to grasp today, it is that Jesus came to let us all know that our faulty pictures of Him need to meet the reality of how He came. He came to us simple, helpless, unthreatening – simply seeking our attention and love.
He did not come to demand from us, but to invite us to come near, to gaze upon the full expression of His love – and to know that He longs for us to hold Him… as much as we need to be held in His loving arms…