Three small boys were in a Christmas play at school. They represented the three wise men and they were to give their gifts to baby Jesus. The first boy stepped forward, held out the gift in his hands and said, “Gold.” The second boy stepped forward, held out his gift and said, “Myrrh.” The third boy stepped forward, held out his gift and said, “Frank sent this.”
I like the story of a man who walked into a gift shop that sold religious items. Near the cash register he saw a display of caps with “WWJD” printed on all of them. He was puzzled over what the letters could mean, so he asked the clerk. The clerk replied that the letters stood for “What Would Jesus Do”, and was meant to inspire people to not make rash decisions, but rather to imagine what Jesus would do in the same situation. The man thought a moment and then replied, “Well, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t pay $17.95 for one of these caps.”
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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 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. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
God announced Jesus’ birth from the beginning of time.
Do you know someone who has a hard time keeping a secret? Josh told me just the other day what Thom was giving me for Christmas. It happened to be exactly what I had requested. (To which all of the men in the audience say, “Well played.”) We do a decent job of taking pictures of our kids at their activities, but we are horrible at printing them off. In fact, we’ve never had a hard copy of a picture of our kids that has been taken with our digital camera since we’ve owned it which has been several years now. They’re all on the computer. So, I told Thom what I wanted for Christmas was all of those pictures printed off. Josh must have seen him compiling photos on his laptop and Thom told him what he was doing, but of course asked Josh to keep it a secret. Josh not only told me what Thom was doing, but he then went and told Thom he had told me. As you know from my 40th Birthday surprise fiasco, I’m kind of hard to surprise.
Just like my Christmas gift from Thom was foretold, the gift of the Christ-child was foretold. God had a hard time keeping a secret. In fact, he told us about the gift of the child from the beginning of creation, long before this prophecy in Isaiah. Back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve had sinned by taking of the forbidden fruit, they lost their closeness with God, and all of the blessings that God had given them. And as a result of their sin, from that day until this, humans have lived in a constant fear of death, and have struggled with the hardships of life.
But God promised Adam and Eve that this curse would not last forever. Addressing the Serpent, God said: “I will put enmity (hatred) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15
In other words God promised that one day, Satan would be crushed. And he would be crushed by the offspring of a woman…. A child… a son. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” Isaiah 9:6
When Jesus died on the Cross, Satan believed he had struck Jesus down with a mortal blow. He had struck at Jesus’ heel and believed this so-called messiah was destroyed. But, instead, it was through that death on the cross and His ultimate resurrection, Jesus crushed Satan’s head and has defeated him for all time.
It was this gift of a child, this gift of a son that would bring us our salvation and our hope for eternity and his birth was foretold from the beginning. How many of you have your Christmas shopping done? (Well, good for you.) How many of you haven’t started. (Well, God bless you.) Some of you are on the ball and you have made great preparations. Long before Christmas you were buying stuff. Some of you started buying stuff last January when it was on Christmas. That’s pretty good preparation. But how about the preparation of God who foretold the birth of Christ in the Garden of Eden and then again hundreds of years later which was also hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. Not only did God announce Jesus birth from the beginning of time, but also
God announced Jesus’ role, rule and reign.
That’s right… He came to establish a government. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6 Look at your neighbor and say, “Jesus has some big shoulders!” If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, Jesus has some big shoulders. If you ever need a shoulder to lean on, Jesus has some big shoulders.
Then, Isaiah goes on to say: “Of the increase 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.”
In other words… the purpose for child being born, this son being given was to establish a Kingdom. A kingdom of peace, and justice and righteousness. And it wouldn’t last a mere 40 or 50 yrs… not even a kingdom of 1000 or 2000 yrs. Jesus wouldn’t need to run for re-election or go through a campaign process. He simply was appointed by God to establish a government which He would preside over for all of time. The Scripture says this Kingdom would last forever.
There is only one title for someone who establishes a government that serves all of humanity. It is King of kings and Lord of lords. If Jesus is King of kings, then everyone else is part of His kingdom. What kind of kingdom did Is. 9:6 announce that Jesus would set up?
Jesus was asked about that. When He was in Pilate’s courtroom, the Roman governor was questioning him… and Jesus said: “’My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.
Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” John 18:36-37
Here it is again… the reason Jesus was born was to become a King. But His kingdom was not of this world. Once, when questioned about the Kingdom of God, Jesus said: “the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21
Paul wrote that – right now – you and I are part of that Kingdom: the Father… has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14
The Bible isn’t referring to a future kingdom when at the return of Christ some kind of earthly kingdom will be set up, but that Jesus is ruling now and we who belong to Him are subjects in His now kingdom. Wherever God is given preeminence to rule and reign-that is where His kingdom is.
This kingdom is one that Jesus created. It’s one that lasts forever. It is a kingdom that rules inside of us. It’s a kingdom where Satan’s accusations and sin’s clutches have no power or dominion over us. We are kingdom people, serving the King of kings whose authority and governance was foretold hundreds of years before His birth.
How would Jesus govern in this kingdom?
He governs as a Wonderful Counselor. What does that mean? It
means He possesses all wisdom because He has all authority. You’ll never get the wrong answer when you inquire of Jesus. You’ll never get faulty advice when you consult Jesus.
My husband is a counselor. He has opened a Christian counseling practice here in Teays Valley called Horizon Center for Christian Counseling. He would tell you that one main role of the counselor is to be a listener. Jonah 2:2 says, “”In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Listen, Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor who listens to us when we cry out to Him.
When people know that they have been heard, that someone who cares has listened to them, there is an unburdening that takes place. Jesus is the ultimate Wonderful Counselor because when we come to him, he not only listens, but he bears our burdens. Matthew 11:28 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. We can dump our stuff on Jesus anytime.
He governs as the Mighty God.
I’m not suggesting that Jesus was a kind of “World’s Strongest Man,” who would simply be able to push a car or camel across the desert or lift a heavy dumbbell or donkey over his head. I’m saying that Jesus can do what no one else has ever done or ever will do! Phil Pfister, the World’s Strongest Man in 2007, a resident of Charleston may have had some weight placed on his shoulders that seemed impressive, but only Jesus, who had the government placed on his shoulders accomplished the ultimate feat.
Listen to Is. 22:22 22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Jesus opened the gates of death, sin and hell, when he was crucified and buried. He escaped death himself and took the keys with him, forever opened the door to peace with God for all who would believe. No one can shut the door to eternal life.
This Mighty God came as a vulnerable baby, but that didn’t weaken him or diminish Him. It was all a part of the plan for He who would be the Mighty God. Hebrews 2:14 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil! He is Mighty because He destroyed the works of the devil, the enemy of our soul. He is the Mighty God because He became limited like us and was numbered with the sinners and overcame it all which means we too can overcome!
He governs as the Everlasting Father.
The title “Everlasting Father” is an expression used to describe the Messiah’s relationship to time, not His relationship to the other Members of the Trinity. Jesus isn’t Father God. He is God, the Son, but He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. He is and always will be God. The unchanging aspect of his being gives me security. It’s not like He’s out of office every four years or that He grows weary or tired. Everything He has always been He always will be. He is consistent perfection. He is unlimited love. He is amazing grace. He is immense mercy. He IS Eternal Secuirty. And what He is, He always will be.
He governs as the Prince of Peace.
He doesn’t offer a tax incentive or a social security check. He didn’t come on the scene to offer a cut in interest rates or a stimulus package. He’s not handing out a temporary bailout, but an opportunity to be at peace with God, others, and ourselves FOREVER!
You know how He established this government, this kingdom? By using those big shoulders to carry the cross. That’s right. By laying down His life, the opportunity for peace with God and a righteousness that comes through faith in Christ was permanently, forever nailed into place.
God announced His passion for the whole plan.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
God was jazzed about His plan. He was enthusiastic. He was excited. He was passionate and that zeal, that fervor, spilled out in all of these announcements.
Do you know why God made these announcements? Because He’s crazy about you. Do you see the language in the opening part of Isaiah 9:6? To whom is a child born? To whom is a son given? Who is the recipient of this amazing gift given by this amazing giver? US!
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is a love letter. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that he gave His only Son and that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
God’s passion and zeal are seen in the way that He spared no expense to show us His love.
When Thom and I got married, we agreed that we were going to be responsible with money and that we didn’t want the weight of debt on our shoulders. So, we agreed that we wouldn’t spend more than 100.00 on something we wanted without consulting the other person. For the most part, we’ve stuck to that agreement.
Recently I celebrated my 40th birthday which also is our wedding anniversary. Thom wanted to communicated value to me on that special day and felt that being limited to 100.00 wouldn’t work. So, he asked for my permission to spend more than 100.00 and since the expense was for me, I wholeheartedly agreed. Little did I know he was planning an escape retreat to Billy Graham’s Retreat center in NC. You could say it was a first class trip and no expense was spared. I really felt special. The effort he went to, the money that was spent, it communicated something to me about my value to him. It said something to me about how much he cared for me and how much he wanted me to enjoy a time of refreshment.
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said. When Christmas day came, the boy brought the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked. The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless. “Why … why, it’s gorgeous … wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me.” His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”
Dear friends, God came from heaven to a manger, from a manger to a cross, from a cross to the grave and from a grave back to heaven. And we ask, “Why all this trouble, God?” And God would say to us, “Long walk part of gift.” Jesus came from heaven to kiss earth. What a long walk. Jesus went from a cradle to a cross. What a long walk. Jesus went to Hell for you and me. What a long walk!
Scripture describes God’s passion for you and me in a way that tells us God spared no expense. Listen to the passion of God expressed in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
That is love. Jesus sacrificed so that we can go free and possess all things.
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
That is love. Jesus took our punishment so that the guilty verdict on our heads is no more. God has justified us through Christ.
34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
That is love. The One that gave His life for us hasn’t quit giving. He is interceding for us, praying we’ll “get it.” Praying we’ll understand the Father’s love.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That is love. Jesus will hold onto us until we see Him face to face. Nothing can separate us from His love. It’s that strong.
And God couldn’t keep His love a secret. He still can’t. He’s sent me to tell you about it again this morning. It is still the gift that keeps on giving. It is perfect gift for anyone. It is a useful gift, as the love and peace of God take care of our sin problem. It is a luxurious gift as it cost a great deal, but also provides us with the riches of God in Christ Jesus. It’s not defective in any way and would never need to be returned. It doesn’t have to have the batteries of religion to operate. It’s just a free gift of love from the Creator of the Universe. There’s no problem with the gift. (START THE VIDEO) There’s no problem with the Giver. But perhaps there is a problem with the receiver this morning.
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. One day the son died and the father was so grieved that in just a few months times… he also passed on. There was to be a great auction of his paintings and a great many influential people gathered, hoping for an opportunity to purchase one of the great masters for their collections.
The auction opened with a painting of the rich man’s son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the man’s son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200? The son! The son! Who’ll take the “SON?”
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” “We have $10, who will bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10.”
A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!”
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
So it is with salvation. Many will pass over the gift of the Christ child because something else looks more appealing… but they do so without realizing that in the end, it will only be those who took the Son that will get everything.
Most gifts are wonderful and welcomed, but once in a while someone is able to look… “Not what I expected, but just what I wanted.” That’s what we find in the great gift of Christmas. I don’t know what you might be getting for Christmas but nothing will compare to what God has given. 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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 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. The zeal of the LORD Almighty has accomplished this.