Isaiah 9:6 (Advent Midweek Service)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
December 11, 2013
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Our Savior was promised to us first at the time of the Fall into sin. To the devil, that ancient snake, the Lord God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15) The promise was continued by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Old Testament patriarchs. God continued the promise to send the world a Savior to King David. Isaiah the prophet said that the Messiah-Savior would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel because He would be God-with-us. Who is this Immanuel who we know as Jesus? Who is this Child, born of virgin, born in a Bethlehem manger who is identified as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace? Again we explore what the Word of God shares with us about Him born to be our Savior—Jesus Christ. Tonight: Mighty God.
Immanuel—God-with-Us—means that God was present with people in human flesh. Isaiah has already set us up to understand that with the Holy Spirit-inspired words of 7:14, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In our Advent text, we learned last week that the Messiah-Savior is Wonderful Counselor. He is Wonder, the true God who lowered Himself to take on our humanity in order to save us from sin and everlasting death. He is Counselor, the true God who is divine wisdom incarnate, who didn’t count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, humbling Himself even to die on a cross. The world sees this as foolishness, but the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1Cor. 1:18)
So it should be no surprise to us that the next name for the Messiah which Isaiah reveals to us continues to emphasize the divinity of the Savior since He is God made flesh. Therefore, this Child of promise is God, the God of Might. He is the Mighty God. With this revealed truth our hearts delight, for He who is born the Mighty God is therefore able to save all those who put their trust in Him.
In order to be our Savior from sin, Satan, and death, the Messiah had to be true man—a Child born for us, a Son given to us. Jesus had to be fully human in order to act in our place under the Law and fulfill it for us perfectly and completely as God demands the Commandments be done. Romans 5:19, “For as by the one man’s disobedience [Adam’s] the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience [Jesus’] the many will be made righteous.” In order that our Savior might be able to suffer and die for our guilt because we failed to keep the Law of God’s Commandments perfectly, He had to be fully human in order to go to the cross and shed His blood for us. We read in Hebrews 2:14, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
But the Savior is Immanuel, God-with-Us, the Mighty God. If Jesus were not fully God, we could not be saved. Only God Himself could fulfill the Law for us perfectly and completely so that His life, suffering, and death might be a sufficient ransom for all people. Psalm 49:7 reminds us, “No man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life.” Only God can save people. Only God is able to overcome death and the devil for us with His death and resurrection from the dead. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us.” (Gal. 3:13) “You were ransomed . . . not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
“Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary,” is our Lord. It is He who is the Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God-with-us in human flesh. And that’s why so many struggle with knowing Jesus as Savior. They easily relate to His humanity, but fail to see hidden in that flesh God Himself. As we sing each Christmas, “Christ, by highest heav’n adored, / Christ, the everlasting Lord, / Late in time behold Him come, / Offspring of a virgin’s womb. / Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, / Hail the incarnate Deity! / Please as Man with man to dwell, / Jesus, our Immanuel!” (LSB 380, st. 2)
People wonder at how God could take on human flesh for the loving purpose of sacrificing Himself into death to save sinful humanity. If Jesus is the Mighty God, then why not destroy sin the way He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, with fire and brimstone? Why not send plagues like He did against Pharaoh and the Egyptians? Why go to a cross, Jesus? “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:40) Why take upon Yourself the sins of filthy humanity? That’s not very God-like.
But, it actually is very God-like. Jesus, Mighty God, is the God of grace and love, mercy and undeserved kindness. He loved us sinners so much that in His wonderful counsel He took on human flesh and dwelt among us as the God-Man. Jesus showed us that He is truly Mighty God, not by coming down from the cross, but by hanging there in order that He might suffer and die to save us from our sins and rise again in victory over death, winning for us forgiveness and everlasting life. The wonderful counsel and might of our God and Savior Jesus is shown to us by His gracious mercy in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which we receive through the Gospel in Word, Baptism, and Supper. Jesus, Mighty God, comes to us with forgiveness and life in these Means of Grace to rescue and to save and to strengthen us in faith toward Him and in service both to God and to humanity.
Because Jesus is our Mighty God, our Immanuel, through our works done from faith we become for our neighbors “Jesus-with-them”. Through the love and mercy that we show to others in Jesus’ name through our gifts of service in time, action, and prayer, we become for them the hands, the feet, and the mouth of Christ. St. Teresa of Avila, who lives from 1515-1582 put this theme in one of her poems. It reads like this:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.
Thus through our actions we love one another as Christ loved us. We act in Jesus’ name as good shepherds and good Samaritans, serving others, bringing them the love and mercy and especially the Gospel of Jesus, the Mighty God, to them. Look for the opportunities this Advent Season to show the mercy and love of Christ to others in what you do and say. Bring Jesus, Immanuel, to people with your words and service.
For He is the Child born for us. He is the gift of God to us, our Immanuel. He is God-with-us in human flesh. He is divine Wonder. He is divine Wisdom and Counsel. He is Mighty God. And yet, He set aside His glory to live with us. He chose not always or fully to use His divine power, His wonder or counsel, humbling Himself to perfect obedience to the heavenly Father. The Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, took up the cross and bore the weight of our sins into death and the grave so that we might be forgiven and live eternally with Him. Such love, such grace, such mercy! That is this Child of promise. Amen.