(This column originally appear in LNP | LancasterOnline.)
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the beautiful music. This is the one time of year when the various names of Jesus are sung and heard not just in Christian churches but in shopping malls, on radio stations and in concert venues.
Even in Christian circles, however, the names simply provide a pleasing melody, and the richness of their meaning is diminished.
This is regrettable because a person’s name in Scripture reflects a person’s character, tells a story about that person, and often reveals great insights into a message that God wants to convey. This is why the names given to Jesus are so important.
Jesus is God with us, fully God and fully man. I believe New Testament evidence implicitly and explicitly bears witness to his deity. He is given titles given only to God in the Old Testament, does many things only God can do, and has the same attributes ascribed only to God. Evidence is also given for his full humanity. He experienced the joys, frustrations, weariness, pain and sorrows of human life. He was like us in every way but one: He was without sin.
At the amazing moment of his birth, Jesus took upon himself a robe of human flesh to suffer as we suffer, to sinlessly experience what we experience, and to give his life in our place so we may dwell in his presence for all eternity. Only the sinless God-man could do this.
Immanuel came into a sin-broken world to save a people under wrath. It is this world to whom “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” (Isaiah 9:6).
The names in this verse were the basis for a 1975 sermon series by the pastor and writer Warren Wiersbe. His main point was that when all aspects of our life are on the shoulders of Jesus, he will take care of the dullness of life, the decisions of life, the demands of life, the dimensions of life and the distresses of life.
“Counselor” takes care of the decisions of life. We can turn to Jesus who knows all about us, inside and out. He understands our needs, diagnoses our problems, and knows exactly how to help us. He gives freely the wisdom we need to make the right decisions.
“Mighty God” takes care of the demands of life. Jesus has all power and authority to get us through whatever comes our way. He protects and supports us in all our hardships and afflictions. No power can overcome him.
“Everlasting Father” takes care of the dimensions of life: our center and identity, our truest purpose, our destiny. God created us for eternity; Christ revealed eternity in his person and his works; and he died that in him we might have eternal life. It is foolish to live as if this life is all that exists.
“Prince of Peace” speaks of our peace with God and the peace we can have in our hearts when we trust in Jesus. This takes care of the distresses of life. Peace is not the absence of trouble, but it is a calm confidence in the thick of it because we know that he who laid down his life for our salvation will never leave us alone.
The names of Jesus reveal many things about the excellency of his being and the perfections of his character. There is, in fact, no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
This Christmas season, when we hear the different names of Jesus in song, may we ponder their meaning, worship and adore him for who he is, what he has done and what he continues to do in and for us.