PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is the greatest nativity story ever. It is amazing when you understand what it took for God to coordinate the events that brought forth Christ. The Bible tells us in Galatians that Christ was born when “the fullness of time” had come. That meant the star was shining, the politicians were in office, the key players were chosen, and the stage was set for Christ’s appearance. Caesar’s census had been commissioned and travelers throughout Israel were retreating to their hometown to participate. When Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem the hotels were filled, so they settled for a stable. And once they were checked in the contractions began and the baby was born, the Son was given, and Immanuel—God—was with us!
You know the story. The angels filled the sky and shouted the announcement of Christ’s birth and the shepherds who heard their voices hurried to the manger to see the King. And as the Shepherds gathered at His side the star shone over its Maker, guiding the Wise Men toward their destination. I never tire of hearing the greatest story ever told—the story of Jesus! It’s the greatest story ever told because it speaks to every man of every generation. I said at the outset of this message that there is no other nativity like this one. Did you know that Christ’s birth was prophesied thousands of years in advance? There are scores of prophecies that predict Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, and Return.
There are over 60 OT prophecies that span 2000 years, and none of them was uttered closer than 400 years prior to Christ’s arrival. They were given by men that lived hundreds of years apart, who could not collude with each other in their predictions. One of the chief reasons I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word concerns the pinpoint accuracy of the prophecies that pertain to Christ coming to earth as a man among men.
There are prophecies that speak of the place of His birth, the time of His birth, the circumstances surrounding His birth, and His lineage. There are prophecies that spoke of His manner of life and the type of death He would suffer. They spoke of His betrayal, and even the precise amount of money that would be taken for His betrayal. On and on the prophecies continue. What was God doing through these prophecies? He was preparing men for the greatest event of human history. It is the event announced in our text that says: “behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The Good News is this: God sent a Savior to redeem us from the bondage of sin. God doesn’t require us to pay the penalty of our sin or gain His acceptance by works of righteousness— Jesus did that work. And Jesus did that because He was the only one that could get it right. We could never do it correctly. But many people have missed that message. And it’s the greatest event in world history! They either ignore it or they know nothing about God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.
(Illustration) In the early 1900’s the Wright brothers, who by trade were bicycle merchants, made their first successful airplane flight. Immediately after making aeronautical history they sent a telegram to their sister. The message said: “First flight a success; 58 seconds in the sky; plan to be home for Christmas.” Their sister knew it was the greatest headline in the world, so she contacted the local newspaper editor and submitted the telegram. And the editor put it on the front page of the newspaper. Here was the headline: “Local Bicycle Merchants to be Home for Christmas.” No doubt the editor waited a long time for a headline that would be the “scoop” of his career; but he blew it! I want to encourage everyone here to make sure you don’t miss the greatest event of world history. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, invite Him into your life today! He will discharge your sins and “remove them as far as the “east is from the west.”
(Transition) While there are many that have missed this great event, there was a prophet that lived 700 years prior to Christ’s birth that understood precisely what the Messiah would look like when God would send Him forth. I love how Isaiah so eloquently expressed his four-fold description of Christ.
Isaiah’s Prophecy of Christ
Isaiah 9:6 says: “for unto us a child will be born; a son will be given; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, [and] Prince of Peace.” I want you to notice that each divine designation Isaiah ascribes to Christ is presented as a compound title. He doesn’t call the coming Savior simply, the “Counselor” or “God” or “Father” or the man of “Peace.” He calls Christ the “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.”
Think about something. Isaiah’s prophecy gave the coming Messiah a billing that was second to none. Can you apply those titles to anyone else that ever lived? No! And Isaiah didn’t understate it in the least when he crowned Christ with these glorious titles. Did you know there is significance to the titles we attach to a person’s name? For example:
- Senator John Ashcroft
- C. Everett Coop, Surgeon General
- Albert Einstein, Physicist
- Professor Isaac Newton
- Dr. Henry Kissinger, PhD
- President George Washington
Senator, Physician, Physicist, Professor, PhD, President . . . each title is significant, but none of those titles would do justice to the name of Christ.
(Transition) So why did God inspire Isaiah to issue this four-fold revelation of Christ? Let’s investigate that. The first title Isaiah uses to describe Christ is, “Wonderful Counselor.”
I. Christ, the “Wonderful Counselor”
When Isaiah called Christ the “Wonderful Counselor,” he described the immeasurable and boundless wisdom our Lord possessed. Jesus was no mere therapist or psychologist that understood the psyche of human nature. He had infinite understanding of every issue of life. Think about what Isaiah was saying when He called Christ the “Wonderful Counselor.”
- He didn’t mean Jesus was just good at giving advice or He had wisdom like the ancient Eastern sages. It meant Jesus had infinite wisdom and understanding:
He knew the secrets of the universe and He understood the hearts of all men.
Christ understood quantum physics before Einstein ever imagined the concept.
He understood the Second Law of Thermodynamics eons before the French physicist Sadi Carnot discovered it.
Jesus understood the laws of science, medicine, and biology millions of years before life existed on earth.
When the Bible calls Jesus the “Wonderful Counselor” it means He comprehends things that are beyond our ability to grasp. He sees into the darkness as easily as He sees in the light.
And because He possesses unearthly and infinite knowledge, He is pre-eminently capable of directing our lives. The “Wonderful Counselor” can never be stumped, confused, or mistaken, and that means He will never mislead us! He has perfect wisdom for every dilemma. Jesus has unending wisdom.
(Transition) Isaiah not only saw Christ as the “Wonderful Counselor” he saw Him as the “Mighty God.”
II. Christ, the “Mighty God”
When Isaiah used the terminology, the “Mighty God,” He saw Christ as undiminished deity. He saw Him as the almighty Creator who was infinite in power and equal with the Father. He was 100% man but He was somehow 100% God too. And this is the mystery of the incarnation.
If Christianity is to maintain its distinction we must never compromise what the Bible teaches about the divine nature of Jesus Christ. We must hold steadfast to the fact that Jesus is actually “God in the flesh” because this is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. Listen to some of the passages that speak of Christ’s deity:
- Isaiah 7:14 says:
“the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel [God with us].”
John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being.”
In John 10:30 Jesus said: “I and my Father are one.”
Hebrews 1:8 says: “But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER.”
Colossians 2:9 says: “For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
And then Paul said plainly and simply in 1 Timothy 3:16 that “God was manifest in the flesh.”
The Scriptures couldn’t be any clearer. Jesus, the man, is also Almighty God—fully human but also fully divine. He is as much God as is the Father and the Holy Spirit.
(Thought) Awhile back I imagined what Mary and Joseph might have been thinking when Jesus lay in that manger. I believe it is likely that they each had distinctive thoughts. When Mary looked at Jesus she thought: “That baby is my child.” And her thoughts toward Christ testified to His humanity—He was her son. But when Joseph looked into that manger he thought: “That baby is not my child.” And His thoughts testified to Christ’s deity, because indeed, Jesus was not Joseph’s son, He was the divine Son of the Heavenly Father!
What about you? What do you think of Christ?
- Who was this babe in the manger?
Who was the infant that Simeon dedicated in the Temple eight days later?
Who was this child the Magi worshiped with costly gifts?
Who was this adolescent that confounded the Priests at the Temple?
Have you caught the headline? I submit to you that this child in Bethlehem’s cradle was also the “Mighty God” from Heaven’s throne.
(Transition) Isaiah not only saw Christ as the “Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God,” he saw Him as the “Everlasting Father.”
III. Christ, the “Everlasting Father”
Think about this designation. Isaiah says Jesus is our “everlasting Father”! Ten billion years from now and a trillion years from then, we will still be able to look in the face of our Lord and say, “Abba, Father.” He will always provide, protect, and surround us with His Fatherly presence. He is the one whose care and compassion are like none other.
Do you realize it is the moral duty of the Creator to watch over His creation? It is only right that the stronger watches over the weaker.
(Illustration) When I was about 5 years old my dad and I drove to the store in a truck that resembled a UPS delivery vehicle. As we returned home the brakes failed, the passenger door flew open, and without a seatbelt I flew out of the truck. Instantly my dad reached over and amazingly grabbed my arm as I dangled halfway out the door. Fortunately, we lived just before a huge school parking lot, which enabled my dad to spin the truck in a circular motion and (let the second law of thermodynamics) bring us to a stop. So with one arm my dad held to the steering wheel and with the other he held tightly to me. I’ll always remember what I said to my dad as we spun in that circle. I said, “Dad, don’t turn loose”! And he didn’t!
Think about it. At that moment of crisis, with my dad trying to guide that truck to a stop, nothing was more important to him than holding me securely and keeping me safe. It didn’t matter how many cars he sideswiped or that all the groceries flew out the door, my safety was more important. Did you know that our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also called the “Everlasting Father,” is more concerned about your welfare than the most caring of all earthly fathers?
He cares for you with unblinking eyes.
He cares for you with ever-attentive ears.
He cares for you with hands that are stronger than Samson’s and gentler than Mother Teresa’s.
That’s the care of Jesus, our “Everlasting Father.”
(Transition) Isaiah not only saw Christ as the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father,” but among the supreme designations Isaiah ascribed to Jesus He crowned Him with the title, Prince of Peace.
IV. Christ, the “Prince of Peace”
What do you think this title, Prince of Peace, really means? Doesn’t the term prince seem to fall short of what Christ deserves to be called? Why not call Him God of Peace or Savior or Peace? At first glance this title appears too limited. A prince is not greater than a King or even a Prime Minister. According to its definition, a prince is only given authority over a restricted, clearly defined territory. For example: the Prince of Wales or the Prince of Denmark or the Prince of Sweden. So why would Isaiah call Christ the Prince of Peace?
Well, think about far reaching our need for peace is. If there is anything the world, with all its pills and potions, searches for, it is peace. Each year Americans spend billions of dollars on pharmaceuticals. Why? Because we’re looking for relief from pain; we’re seeking comfort for our body; we want rest and serenity.There is not one area of life that peace isn’t needed. It’s needed without limitations or restrictions! For example:
Do you want peace in only part of your life?
Do you want it for your mind, but not your soul?
Or do you want peace for your body but not for your relationships with others?
Do you want it when you’re awake but not when you’re asleep?
Do you want peace for America but not the Middle East or the nations of the world?
There is not one dimension of life or one sector or the entire universe that exists without the need for peace. It’s needed spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, politically, and universally. When we realize the boundless scope in which we need peace, we understand this is no dim or depreciated title Isaiah gives to Christ when he calls Him the “Prince of Peace.” In fact, I want you to notice the very next verse of Scripture Isaiah writes after he calls Christ the “Prince of Peace.” He says: “of the increase of His government and of His [reign of] peace there shall be no end.”
That Scripture shows the Lord’s kingdom will expand throughout the endless ages of eternity. Think about that: there will never be an end to the escalation of His government and kingdom—it will be ever growing; ever expanding. That means the sphere in which this mighty Prince governs will literally extend into the whole cosmos and be without the least restriction or limitation. Wherever His borders extend, His Princely rule will be there to supply peace. What a title—Prince of Peace!
Do you have peace with God? You need to have it. And you can have it. But you know what you must do for Christ’s peace to affect your life? You have to do what must be done for medication to affect your body. You must partake. Unless you partake of Christ and invite Him into your life, you will never enjoy the peace He offers. Have you partaken of Christ? Does He live in your heart and rule your life?