‘What’s In a Name?’ – Advent 3

Our Advent series continued this week with the third name of Jesus from Isaiah chapter 9: ‘Everlasting Father’.

"FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN, TO US A SON IS GIVEN, AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS. AND HE WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE."

Isaiah 9:6

David said this name is considered by many to be the most intriguing and possibly the most confusing of the four: How can the Son also be called the Father?
We read this from a post-Christmas perspective with the doctrine of the Trinity in mind. However, Isaiah did not have this in mind. Rather he was setting out the father-like characteristics of the Messiah – Jesus.

1. Jesus is everlasting

"OF THE GREATNESS OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END. HE WILL REIGN ON DAVID’S THRONE AND OVER HIS KINGDOM, ESTABLISHING AND UPHOLDING IT WITH JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM THAT TIME ON AND FOREVER."

Isaiah 9:7

Isaiah was bringing a promise of light, joy and freedom to people living in darkness, sadness and oppression. A king would come who would not reign for a time and disappear but would reign forever – with justice and righteousness. What a promise!


For us, living after Jesus has come, we can find hope in that same wonderful truth:

"JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TODAY, AND FOR EVER."

Hebrews 13:8

In a world of constant and unpredictable change, the one who is Wonderful Counsellor and Mighty God does not change.


Because Jesus is everlasting, death could not hold him and so we can have the assurance of everlasting life:

"JESUS SAID TO HER, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. THE ONE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE, EVEN THOUGH THEY DIE; AND WHOEVER LIVES BY BELIEVING IN ME WILL NEVER DIE."

John 11:25-26

2. Jesus is father-like

David began this section by acknowledging that, for some people, the concept of ‘father’ is neither positive nor appealing, due to difficult, complicated or non-existent family relationships. However, when Isaiah speaks here of Jesus as a father, He speaks of perfect, ideal fatherhood.

What does it mean in practice? Here are some of the aspects of Jesus as a father:

He loves us:

"GREATER LOVE HAS NO ONE THAN THIS: TO LAY DOWN ONE’S LIFE FOR ONE’S FRIENDS."

John 15:13
  • He has compassion on us:

"WHEN JESUS LANDED AND SAW A LARGE CROWD, HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD."

Mark 6:34
  • He cares for us
  • He protects us
  • He provides for us

 

These last three bring to mind the words of an old hymn:

FATHER-LIKE HE TENDS AND SPARES US; WELL OUR FEEBLE FRAME HE KNOWS. IN HIS HAND HE GENTLY BEARS US, RESCUES US FROM ALL OUR FOES…

Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven

As David reminded us, in terms of ultimate care, protection and provision – nowhere is that more powerfully demonstrated and tangible than at the Cross.

 

3. Jesus makes the Father known

Although Jesus is not the Father, Jesus makes the Father known:

"NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD, BUT THE ONE AND ONLY SON, WHO IS HIMSELF GOD AND IS IN THE CLOSEST RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER, HAS MADE HIM KNOWN."

John 1:18

A critical aspect of our celebration of Christmas – and the birth of the one called Everlasting Father – is an acute awareness that if we know Jesus, we know (we are in relationship with) the Father. As Jesus told his disciples:

"ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER."

John 14:8

And so, the central Christmas message is that God the Father has revealed Himself to the world in His Son – in Jesus – and why? So that through Jesus we would see the Father.

May our celebration of Christmas be taken up a notch because we’re discovering that the name of the child born for us means even more than we have imagined before.

Dorothy McMillan

Dorothy McMillan

I’m Dorothy and I coordinate the Deep Dives part of the WBC website. I’ve been a member of WBC for over 25 years and have worked as a teacher, playgroup leader and college lecturer. Now that I have retired, I enjoy doing patchwork, reading and spending time with our four wonderful grandchildren.
Dorothy McMillan
I’m Dorothy and I coordinate the Deep Dives part of the WBC website. I’ve been a member of WBC for over 25 years and have worked as a teacher, playgroup leader and college lecturer. Now that I have retired, I enjoy doing patchwork, reading and spending time with our four wonderful grandchildren.