Introduction. We listen to the news and read the headlines all week long and then come here and sing “peace on earth and mercy mild” and “silent night, holy night … all is calm, all is bright.” It creates a sort of dissonance doesn’t it? We live in a world full of wars and rumors of wars and then we celebrate Christmas. Our world is so desperate for peace you would think the world would be more drawn to someone who claims to be the Prince of Peace. Ted Turner and World Peace. Ted Turner, the multi-billionaire founder of CNN, has certainly been a champion for world peace. He established the Goodwill Games, he gave a billion dollars to the United Nations for peace and humanitarian work. In 1993 he offered a huge sum of money for any book that could give a workable plan for world peace. He received 10,000 manuscripts and not one plausible plan for a sustainable, peaceful future. His competition was a bust. I guess no one turned in a Bible. He forgot to read his Bible. Jesus has a plan. Jesus’ will. I don’t know if you are aware of this but when Jesus died He had a will. He bequeathed a number of things to different people. I ran across this in Matthew Henry’s wonderful commentary which should be in your home and put to use. Jesus bequeathed His soul to His Father. He left His body to Joseph of Arimathea. His clothes went to some Roman soldiers. He left His mother in the care of John. So what did He leave to His disciples? They left everything for Him? What could He give back? Silver and gold He had none. No riches, no worldly honor, no fame and fortune. He bequeathed to them one thing, peace. Jesus said, “my peace I give you. My peace, the peace that I purchased for you with my blood. The only peace that will give you true peace. The peace that is my gift to give to whom I will.” He left them something far better than anything this world could give, something far better than anything on any of our Christmas lists. This gift is nothing like anything the world offers. The world can only offer physical, temporal, trivial gifts. What does this world offer that would quiet a troubled heart or remove all fear? The world cannot give inward peace, peace of mind, peace of conscience, freedom from fear, pardon from sin, hope of eternal life.
Remember when you were a child and you got really scared. What did you want or need most? Your dad and mom. They were your source of security and safety. In a dark and scary world filled with evil and tragedy and death, what do we need most? Not some ancient philosophy, not some bronze statue, not some man-made religion. What we need most is a personal God who cares and who shows He cares by coming to us, by entering our broken world, by telling us the truth and pointing the way out of the disaster created by our sin and rebellion. We need a God with skin on. We need a God in whom we can be truly safe and secure in the face of all of lives harms and dangers. Newtown, CT is exactly why Jesus came down from heaven to earth. Newtown, CT is a picture of the sinfulness of sin and of how desperately we all need a Savior from the power and destruction and bondage of our sin. And not just a Savior, but a suffering Savior who knows exactly what it’s like to be us and go through what we go through. We need a Savior who knows the horror of murderous acts, who knows the hatred of hearts turned against Him, who knows the pain of death. Politicians will not solve our problem, more police will not solve our problem, better gun control laws will not solve our problem, better education will not solve our problem. This sinful world cannot provide us with any solutions. That has to come from somewhere else outside this world. The only remedy for sin and evil is a suffering and crucified and risen Savior. A lot of people are going to say a lot of foolish things in the next days and weeks. But mark my words, if they go on and on and never use the words sin and evil and wickedness and repentance and Savior and Jesus Christ, then their words are worthless. No one else on earth can help us the way Jesus can help. No one else on earth can love us the way He loves us. No one else on earth has promised what He has promised and backed it up with His power over sin and death and Satan. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save us. Nothing. We should grieve with those who grieve. Like Rachel weeping for her children. But the King Herods of the world don’t have the last word. God has the last word. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. We must all humble ourselves before a very personal God who cares and is intimately involved in all that happens in our lives. Our title for this morning reveals to us the personal side of God. Last week’s title, Mighty God, stirred up quite a bit of controversy. This week’s title, Everlasting Father, stirs up a bit of confusion. Calling this child God was scandalous unless He really was divine. Calling this Son who is given, Father, creates more misunderstanding. How can the Son be the Father?
Here is a thought experiment for you. How would you describe color to a man born blind? You could try to use other senses like smell and touch. Red is like fire or a hot stove. Green is like freshly cut grass. But if you tell a blind person that the sky is blue and the ocean is blue and ice is blue, how confusing would that be, since they are all totally different? You could try to use emotions and feelings, blue can be calmness or sadness, yellow is soft, grey is gloomy. You could try to use symbolism, green is for growth and healing. Red and blue and green would be hard enough but how would you describe indigo or chartreuse? How do you describe God whom no man has seen? How does the finite explain the infinite? How does the sinful describe the sinless? My attempts to describe God to you are like one blind man trying to describe color which he has heard about but never seen to another blind man. We are all blind to God unless God Himself makes Himself known to us. God has very graciously condescended to speak to us not in unintelligible divine language but in human words. He has spoken to us in terms we can understand and He uses what we can see, hear and touch to give us a glimpse of things that are invisible and eternal. God stoops down to help us. Consider this. All the names that God calls Himself and that He tells us to call Him come from earthly and human relationships and experiences. King, Lord, Ruler, Master, Good Shepherd, Faithful Leader, Wise Teacher, Law Giver, Guide, Father, Friend, Savior, Redeemer, wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. All these help us “see” the God we can’t see. But even all these words taken together don’t fully reveal the incomprehensible God. We are still like blind men trying to understand color. Whatever we say about God through these four titles, please understand we have just scratched the surface of infinite majesty. And as I have said on several occasions, this is why heaven will never be boring even after a trillion years. God is infinite, it will take an infinite amount of time to fathom the heights and depths of an infinitely glorious God. Next time you think God or things in His Word don’t make sense, remember who you are and who God is and in this life we only see through a glass darkly, like a partially blind man at best. Let’s take another step toward understanding God by looking at this next title that the prophet Isaiah reveals concerning this child who is born, this Son who is given.
If you are a parent you have experienced that strange and wonderful privilege of giving a human being a name, a name they will be called and remembered by all their days on earth and beyond. We wrestled with finding the right name. Some names struck us as funny, some sounded weird to us, some evoked very positive memories of people we liked and others not so much, some belonged to famous people, some had stereotypes attached to them, but in the end it’s often a very subjective kind of choice. If you have five boys and have to come up with 10 names that can be even more challenging. And some of your parents had to come up with way more than that. As much thought as we put into names, it seems the people of the Bible gave it much more. There we see all kinds of names with much meaning, some of them very symbolic like the names of Joseph’s children or Hosea’s children. Abraham means “Father of a multitude.” Jacob means “Trickster.” Goliath means “Splendor.” David means “Beloved.” Peter means “Rock.” All of these people proved true to their names! Isaiah 9:6 says His name (not names) shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This is one long name or title. This is like a royal name or throne name, a name given at coronation. The Queen of England’s full title is “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to which is added “Head of the Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Lancaster (yes, Duke, not Duchess), Lord of Mann and Paramount Chief of Fiji.” Prince Charles' titles are His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. It speaks of the greatness of a person that they have multiple names and titles. I have here a little booklet on 220 names of Jesus in the Bible, another book has 250. These names and titles speak of His greatness and of His character and nature. He has the name that is above all names. During this season of Advent we are going to explore the meaning behind the four titles the prophet Isaiah reveals in Isaiah 9:6. While many in the world celebrate Christmas, far fewer celebrate the Christ of Christmas. While the world has their winter holiday, we will strive to worship Jesus who is worthy of all our worship and adoration. In order to worship Him we need to know Him and we begin to know Him by knowing His name. We begin with Wonderful Counselor.