PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
THE THRONE NAMES OF JESUS
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 his Son. Galatians says that Christ was born when “the fullness of time” had come. That meant the Old Testament served its purpose, the voice of the Prophets was coming to pass, the political and religious leaders were in office, the key players were chosen, the star was shining, and all was ready 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. Once they 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 then filled the sky and shouted the announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds who then hurried to the manger to see the King. Later, the star would guide the Wise Men into his presence where they would worship him with gifts.
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 people of every generation.
I said at the outset of this message that there is no other nativity like this one. That’s because Christ’s birth was prophesied thousands of years in advance! Scores of prophecies predicted his 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.
There are prophecies that speak of the place of his birth, the time of his birth, the circumstances surrounding his birth, and the lineage that he would come from.
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. As the Gospelist Luke said, “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. That’s because he knew a mere mortal—marred by sin—could never pay the penalty that sin demanded. Only a fully righteous one could accomplish that! Thus, Jesus intervened and presented himself as the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was the only one that could get it right!
But many people have missed 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 knew exactly what to say about him. Here are his words in Isaiah 9:6:
Isaiah’s Prophecy of Christ
“For unto us a child will be born; unto us 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 “Peace.” He foretells the world’s Savior as being the “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” That’s a billing that is second to none.
Can you apply those titles to anyone else that ever lived? No!
Think about something: There is significance to the titles we attach to a person’s name. For example:
- George S Patton, General
- C. Everett Coop, Surgeon General
- Albert Einstein, Physicist
- Ben Carson, Physician
- Sir Isaac Newton, Scientist
- Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger
- President George Washington
Senator, Physician, Physicist, Professor, PhD, President . . . each title is significant, but none of those titles alone could fully describe our Lord. That’s why the Bible never tries to limit its characterization of Jesus.
(Transition) While we don’t have time to list and explain all the Bible’s names of Christ, but I do want to mention several. In so doing, let’s continue our investigation of Isaiah’s four-fold revelation of Christ. The first title Isaiah uses to describe Jesus is, “Wonderful Counselor.”
I. Christ, the “Wonderful Counselor”
Think about what Isaiah meant when he called Christ the “Wonderful Counselor.” He didn’t mean Jesus was good at giving advice or doling out wisdom like the ancient Eastern sages. Isaiah wasn’t comparing Jesus to a therapist or psychologist that understood the psyche of human nature. When Isaiah called Christ the “Wonderful Counselor,” he described the immeasurable knowledge and wisdom that our Lord possessed. He had infinite understanding of every issue of life:
Jesus knows each of the eight-billion-plus people on this planet. He knows what makes us tick. But he also knows each name of the trillions of stars and what makes them twinkle.
Christ understood quantum physics before Einstein ever imagined the concept.
He understood the Thermodynamics eons before the French physicist Sadi Carnot investigated it.
Jesus understood the laws of science, medicine, and biology millions of years before life existed on earth.
“In the beginning was the Word [Jesus] . . . all things were made by him . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us” (John 1:1—14). The One creating all things is infinite in knowledge! And when the Bible calls Jesus the “Wonderful Counselor” it means he comprehends things beyond our ability to grasp. He sees in the darkness as easily as he does light.
(Application) What does this mean to you and me? It means the One possessing infinite knowledge is wholly capable of directing our lives. The “Wonderful Counselor” can never be confused, or mystified, or mistaken. And that means he will never mislead us. He has perfect, unsurpassable counsel for every issue of life.
(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“Mighty God” he saw Christ as undiminished deity. He saw him as the Almighty One who was infinite in power. 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 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.”
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 as is the Holy Spirit.
(Insight) Awhile back I imagined what Mary and Joseph might have been thinking when Jesus lay in that manger. As I pondered this, I concluded that each had distinctive thoughts. When Mary looked at Jesus she thought: That baby is my child! And she was right! Her thoughts toward Christ testified to his humanity—Jesus was her child. But when Joseph looked into that manger he thought: That baby is not my child. And he too was correct. And his thoughts testified to Christ’s deity, because 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?
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”
First, let’s address the theology of this title, “Everlasting Father” that Isaiah ascribes to Jesus. As trinitarians, we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as distinct persons of the Godhead. Yet, Isaiah calls Jesus the “Father.”
Without delving too deeply into the theological implications here, I’ll simply point out this: In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” And then in John 14:9 he said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” The members of the Trinity are so perfectly unified that if you have seen one you have seen the other; and yet they remain distinct personages! It’s a concept difficult to grasp and yet it helps express the unity of the Godhead.
Despite the clouded mystery of this, there is something we can understand about Jesus being our “everlasting Father.” It’s remarkably simple and it’s something that everyone here desires and needs. It’s this: Our great God and Savior is also our loving, watchful, and rescuing Heavenly Father. He is the quintessential Father; perfect in every way!
Now, with all those incredible names that God assumes, perhaps Heavenly Father is the most treasured of all for Christians! For us, it means that the grand, eternal, omnipotent, glorious God of Creation is also approachable, loving, and personal. He claims us as his children and that means he fully assumes responsibility for our welfare. As the perfect Father, he lavishes us with love; he builds us a mansion; he feeds us from the Tree of Life and quenches our thirst from the River of Life; and then he situates us in the safest city in the universe—Heaven.
(Illustration) When I was about 4 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 on a cul-de-sac, which enabled my dad to spin the truck in a circular motion and bring us to a stop. So with one arm my dad held to the steering wheel and with the other he gripped me. I’ll always remember what I said to my dad as we spun in that circle. It was a simple statement but it was also a desperate plea. I said, “Dad, don’t turn loose!”
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 maintaining his hold on me to ensure my safety. It didn’t matter how many cars he sideswiped or that all the groceries flew out the door, my safety was more important! And your Lord Jesus Christ, the “Everlasting Father,” is more concerned about you than is possible to imagine!
There’s one final note about Isaiah’s depiction of Christ here. Jesus is not just our Father; Isaiah said he is our “Everlasting Father.” His relationship with us never changes! And ten trillion years from now our Lord will remain our loving, tender, understanding “Everlasting Father.”
(Transition) Isaiah not only saw Christ as the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father,” but among these 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 lesser than a King, Prime Minister, or President. According to its definition, a prince is granted 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?
But, think about how 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 in our soul. There is not one portion of life where peace isn’t needed! It’s without restrictions! Let me show you:
- Do you want peace 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 sleep?
- Do you want peace for America, but not for the Middle East, or not for the communist nations of the world? What if even our enemies were at peace with us!
There is not one dimension of life or one sector of the universe without the need for peace. It’s needed spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, politically, and universally.
Thus, when we realize the boundless scope that peace is needed it becomes clear that “Prince of Peace” is no dim or depreciated title! And God affirms this in the very next verse of Scripture that Isaiah writes. After calling Christ the “Prince of Peace,” he says this: “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 the borders of the universe extend, his princely rule will be there to supply peace. What a title—Prince of Peace!
Do you have peace with God? You need it, and you can have it! But there is something you must do for Christ’s peace to affect your life. God’s peace transforms your soul in the same fashion that medication improves the wellbeing of your body. You must partake of medicine for it to work. And unless you partake of Christ and make him large in your life, you will never enjoy the peace he offers. Partake of Christ. Take more of him. Let him grow large and claim every portion of your being.
Now let’s return to the first words of this passage in Isaiah 9:6 because there is one more I want you to see. Isaiah 9:6 says,
“Unto us a child is born;
[Mary’s child—the human child]
Unto us a Son is given.”
[God’s Son—the divine Son]
After reading and rereading this passage here is what brings great comfort to me. It’s the first two words in each stanza: “Unto us a child is born; Unto us a son is given.” God gave this incredible, indescribable, incomparable gift “to us! . . . To us! Christ, the Messiah, has been given “To us”!