Our pastor David started a new mini-series for Advent entitled ‘What’s in a Name?’ (We will resume our ‘Devoted’ series after Christmas). Some seven-hundred years before
the event, the prophet Isaiah announced:
Isaiah goes on to tell us:
This is personal. A child is born for me. For you. He is personal. The aim of this series is to increase and intensify our understanding and appreciation of Jesus, of who He is, and of what that means for the present realities of our day-to-day lives.
In Isaiah chapter 9 we are told:
The verses preceding this announce that the coming of this child will bring light instead of darkness (v. 2), joy instead of sorrow (v. 3) and freedom instead of oppression (v. 4). For the people who first heard this prophecy, it must have brought such hope in the starkness of the contrast to their present reality. Standing on this side of Jesus’ first coming, we can know this promised light, joy and freedom because this child has come, this promise has been fulfilled. The first advent changed everything. His birth split history.
In today’s sermon, our pastor concentrated on the meaning of the first name given to Jesus: ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ (Isaiah 9:6).
David explained that the Hebrew which is translated ‘wonderful’ here is much weightier than our English understanding – it means incomprehensible, astonishing, extraordinary, miraculous, supernatural. His birth is all of these things. As is everything about Jesus – His life, His teaching, His miracles, His resurrection, His ascension. He wants to be our ultimate guide, our wisdom and help.
He is our wonderful counsellor because He counsels from a position of authority. He is God. Not only that, but He also counsels from a position of understanding. As we are reminded in the book of Hebrews:
esus longs to guide and direct us, based on His experience and His wisdom. Jesus has infinite wisdom (Luke 2: 40 & 52); moreover, He is ‘the wisdom of God’ (I Corinthians 1:24). He is our ‘wonderful counsellor’ who counsels us from a unique position of authority, understanding and wisdom.
How do we receive the guidance and advice of Jesus? As our pastor reminded us, Jesus does use other people and circumstances but, primarily, He speaks via His teaching. He is the living word who speaks through His written word, the Bible. Jesus does not always tell us what we want to hear, but He will always tell us what we need to hear.
Not only that, but Jesus promised that, once He had died, risen from the dead and ascended, He would ask the Father to send ‘another counsellor’ (John 14: 16-17). Just as He promised, Jesus has given His Holy Spirit, ‘another counsellor’, to live in those who have decided to follow Him. The Holy Spirit is always ready to direct you to Jesus.
What’s in a name? When it comes to Jesus, the answer is tons! And, because it is Jesus, He always lives up to His name. Our pastor concluded by praying that as we learn more about His name it would enable our faith to grow.
How will you let this name, ‘Wonderful Counsellor’, expand your appreciation of Jesus this Christmas?