By Pastor Riccardo Stewart
For to us 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 ESV)
Christmastime is my favorite time of the year—it’s filled with many traditions that bring me joy. I enjoy the decorations, songs, hymns, gifts, food, drinks, and even the movies. My favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a movie I’ve yet to get sick of, because it shows how complex life can be and how directionless we are as we attempt to navigate through life’s most difficult decisions. In short, the movie communicates that life is heavy, and we need someone “up above” to show us what life is like apart from divine guidance.
Hundreds of years before the first Christmas, a prophet named Isaiah was living in chaos. The Assyrian Empire was taking over and destroying the Northern Kingdom of Israel and forcing its people into exile. While Isaiah resided in Jerusalem, which was in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, it too was wrapped up in the Assyrian campaign; though besieged it was not taken. Yet Isaiah rightly predicted of a time, roughly 135 years later, when Judah would face a similar fate from the Babylon Empire. The people of God were clueless as to how to live their lives amidst such calamities. But during this time, Isaiah began to speak of a day in which the heaviness of life, with all its complexities, would experience overwhelming help, aide, and salvation. Isaiah, on behalf of God, spoke about how God would send a Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). This was good news, and would continue to be good news to the millions of millions of people like George (the main character in Its a Wonderful Life), who come to find out that they can’t handle life by making choices under the illusion of autonomy.
This Wonderful Counselor would be none other than God’s own son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was sent from God to us as one who is wonderful (which literally means incomprehensible)—one we can by faith comprehend, and yet he isn’t fully comprehensible. In Jesus, we are blessed and amazed for all eternity with one who is above all our ways. Not only can we call Jesus Wonderful, but he also called Counselor, which reminds us of a wise king like Solomon who would give order and direction to directionless people.
We see that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. We are able to see the wonder of Jesus in his miraculous birth, life altering teachings, timely healings, impeccable life, redemptive miracles, and selfless sacrificial love for the world as he gave his life for us on the cross. In calamity or complexity, we can bring our lives to Jesus, and on him we can lean on and trust in his ways, his guidance, and his counsel. In Jesus Christ, we are given a “wonderful life,” in which we received forgiveness, healing, and guidance in ways that are endlessly far beyond anything that we could ever comprehend.