My thoughts (Keith Phillips):
Of course, the very first thing I think of when reading these verses from Isaiah is the chorus from Handel’s Messiah. (You’ll have to imagine me singing.) “Forrr unto-us-a-child-is-bor-urn; Unto ussss, a Son is givn.” It never occurred to me that I might sing better in print than by voice!
The second thing I think of has to do with names. Isaiah prophesies that this child, this Son will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Now that’s a lot of names; and because I come from a literalist tradition, I want to know just who’s named that. I don’t remember seeing the name Jesus W-C. M-G. E-F. P-o-P. Christ anywhere in the Bible.
Having matured in faith sufficiently so that everything in the Bible doesn’t have to be understood literally, I realize that Isaiah is referring to titles or maybe descriptions of this child who was to be born, as in the Christmas story where Matthew 1:21 says that the child’s name is Jesus, and then in verse 23 says that he’s to be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. The first is actually his given name; the second describes who he is.
Wonderful Counselor — the one who guides our lives in extraordinary ways. Mighty God — the all-powerful One who was present at creation. Everlasting Father — the unlimited and unconditionally loving parent. Prince of Peace — the one who will govern so that integrity, justice, and righteousness prevail. For me, one name emphasizes the present, another the past, the third the eternal, and the fourth the future.
This child, this Son, of whom Isaiah prophesies, is the Messiah, God’s anointed one; he is Immanuel, God with us, and he is named Jesus, for he saves God’s people from our sins. A royal and divine child of hope to be born humbly like us, among us, for us, changing our lives, changing our world from darkness to light. Him we celebrate at Christmas.
Thought for the day: What names do you use to describe your Savior who came, who comes, and who shall come again?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.