When the angel Gabriel visited Mary to foretell the birth of the Messiah, he instructed Mary that she should call the baby Jesus because that name meant that He would save His people from their sins. Jesus is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament name Joshua which means “salvation.”
Yet Jesus has other names as well. While they are not literal names you would use in conversation, they are descriptive names assigned to Him that give us insight into His character and mission. Look at Isaiah 9:6:
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.
Let’s work through these names individually:
When members of our congregation come to me for counseling, the quality of the advice they receive depends on the kind of day I have had. People often come expecting that perfect pearl of wisdom that will immediately solve their problems and put their life instantly in order. Unfortunately, I am human; I can’t hit the bull’s eye 100% percent of the time, no matter how hard I try. My personal resources and experience are limited.
That’s what makes Jesus such a wonderful counselor. His perspective is infinite; His resources unlimited. His experience includes a lifetime on earth during which He experienced the same trials and temptations we face. Who could be better qualified to offer us guidance and direction?
Jesus never fails. He is faithful. All the power of creation stands behind His promise to provide and care for us. He has the power to raise a dead man from the grave. Yet, even more, He has the personal power to keep Himself from racing ahead of the perfect, Divine timing and rushing to the aid of Martha and Mary before Lazarus died. He has the might of control and wisdom coupled with the might of supernatural strength.
Jesus can turn some crackers and sardines into a lunch that is able to feed thousands of hungry people, simply by believing and offering up a “thank you” in that belief. He has the might to calm the seas by simply uttering the word, “Peace.” The Hands that formed the mountains, oceans and skies are strong enough to defeat any enemy yet gentle enough to comfort any heart. Might is more than strength. Might is the ability to use that strength strategically for the good of others. Jesus – Immanuel – embodies might in its most perfect form.
Have you ever spent time pondering where God came from? Don’t. After you’ve gone back as far as you can imagine, you’re no closer to the origin of God than when you started. “Everlasting” means forever. There is no beginning. There is no end. The fact is that God never did arrive. He has always been here.
That can be mind-numbing for us as finite, temporal human beings. That’s why many have concluded that it’s too hard to believe as they settle on evolution instead.
Yet evolutionists confuse me. They say they can’t believe in an eternal God. But they have no trouble believing that nothing plus nothing results in something. They readily conclude that, way back when, one kind of substance accidently collided with another and resulted in an intricate creation.
All it takes to destroy that theory is a simple question: Who created the substance?
Rather, God transcends time and also penetrates time and space to make Himself known to us through Jesus Christ. And He has done this, and will do this, forever.
Prince of Peace
Humanity wants peace desperately. Rulers will sit around tables and negotiate for peace. They will pay any price and make any compromise for peace. If that fails, they are even willing to go to war to get peace.
The truth is, few of us even understand peace. Many of us wouldn’t recognize it if we saw it. This is because we are so frequently unsettled within. James understood the nature of our discontentment. He said, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don‘t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but don‘t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want,” (James 4:1-2)
In Jesus, we have an alternative to this life-long struggle. Paul the Apostle discovered this truth, enabling him to make this declaration:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether filled or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Most of us believe that peace is the absence of conflict. Yet Jesus gives us so much more. He promises peace that transcends our circumstances. It invades the inevitable conflicts that arise in living a life in the midst of a sinful creation. It makes perfect sense to be at peace when all is well. But Jesus who is the Prince of Peace promises us a peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7)