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Sermon for Christmas Eve 2013

Isaiah 9:6 (Christmas Eve)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

December 24, 2013

Prince of Peace

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is from the Old Testament lesson tonight, Isaiah 9:6:

“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 first promised to us at the time of the Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden.  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)  God’s promise of a Savior was continued to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Old Testament patriarchs.  To King David, the Lord promised that the Savior would be his descendent who would rule over his kingdom forever.  Isaiah the prophet, the author of our text, prophesied that the Messiah-Savior would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel because He would be God-with-us.  Who, then, is this Immanuel whom 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? 

Through the Season of Advent we have talked about what these precious names of our Messiah-Savior reveal to us about Jesus.  Jesus is divine Wonder, who took on human flesh to be our Savior.   He is divine Wisdom and Counsel.  Jesus is our Mighty God who overcame sin by His death on a cross and His resurrection from the dead.  He defeated the power of the devil so that we too have the victory over Satan, sin, death.  Jesus is our Everlasting Father who is the tender, faithful, and wise trainer, guardian, and provider for His people for eternity.  On this Christmas Eve, we are here to look at the fourth and final of those precious names spoken by Isaiah, “Prince of Peace.”  What does this name reveal to us about Jesus, our Immanuel, God-with-us, whose birth in Bethlehem we celebrate? 

            The One who is born in Bethlehem, the City of David, is the royal descendent of David promised by God long ago.  We read in 2 Samuel 7 God’s promise to David, “’When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. . . .  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:12-16)  The Child born for us, the Son given to us, is the Prince who will rule over David’s Kingdom.  But His Kingdom is not like the Kingdoms and nations of this world.  Jesus’ Kingdom is a Kingdom of grace, a spiritual rule.  It is not a kingdom of this world, yet it embraces the whole world.  Jesus will not rule like the nations of the world through war, but rather through peace. 

            Peace—wasn’t that the song of the angels to the shepherds?  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)  But how can God be pleased with people who are at odds with Him?  What kind of peace exists between God who is holy, righteous, and just, and people who are sinful, unrighteous, and unjust?  Since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God’s holy, righteous, and just Word, all people have been conceived and born in sin. (Ps, 51)  To put it another way, which may sound more shocking to you yet is nevertheless true, people are by nature at war with God.  Because of our inborn, original sin, we are actually God’s enemies.  The Bible tells us in Romans 8:7, “The sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” 

            As sinful enemies of God, we are naturally without true fear and love of God.  We do not by our very nature want to keep His commandments.  Every inclination of our hearts is evil. (Gen. 8:21)  Because we are spiritually blind, the things of God are foolishness to us and we cannot receive them nor do we have any interest in them.  “By character and by nature [people] are very angry with God, rebellious against Him, hostile to Him, and far too energetic, vigorous, and active in everything that is displeasing and repugnant to God.” (FC, SD II, 17)  So we read in God’s Word, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) and “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:17)

            What a mess you and I are in!  We are sinful, unrighteous, and unjust!  You and I are at war with and enemies of God!  What a mess we are in!  We willingly disobey the Lord’s Commandments.  You and I do whatever feels good and right no matter who we hurt in the process just as long as we are pleased.  What a real mess we are in!  By nature we are not at peace with God.  By nature we are poor, miserable sinners. 

To make matters worse, God’s holiness cannot excuse our sin and rebellion against Him and His Word.  God’s righteousness demands perfection, which we cannot even begin to offer.  Therefore, God’s justice requires that we are punished.  The punishment is earthly death and eternal damnation.  There is no peace to be found in that!  There is no peace in God’s wrath and displeasure against us sinners.  There is no peace in eternal separation from God in hell.  Peace cannot be found if we were lost forever in sin, death, and everlasting condemnation.  Who, then, can make peace between man and God and be our Savior? 

            Isaiah tells us.  “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.” (Is. 9:6)   In the fields over Bethlehem, this announcement from the angel rang out 700 years after Isaiah’s words were spoken, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:10-12)  There swaddled in the manger is your Savior and Deliverer, the Prince of Peace.  There in Bethlehem’s stable is the fulfillment of God’s promise to save sinners—the Child gifted to us, God’s answer to our sinful hostility.  Jesus is the One who brings peace on earth because He makes peace with God for us.   

            Human sin keeps God and man separated and makes us His enemies.  When that sin is removed, there is peace.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace because He is the One who removed our sin and obtained peace with God for us since we could not.  Jesus gained peace for us with God by “canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” by “nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14)  Jesus Christ satisfied the claims of God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice by His own death on the cross where He paid our debt of sin in full.  He received the punishment of death and condemnation that was marked for us.  In exchange for His perfect righteousness, He took away our sins by taking them upon Himself and receiving our punishment of death and hell for them.  Because Christ died on the cross for us, God in His perfect justice declares us sinners to be standing now in a right relationship with Him.  God has pardoned and forgiven us all our sins.  St. Paul writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We are today at peace with God because Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is our peace-winning Savior. 

            At peace with God through faith in Jesus, you and I have tranquil and joyful consciences before God.  This means that we are no longer God’s enemies.  We are His beloved children.  We are no longer under His condemnation.  We are His friends.  We have nothing to fear from God.  He is on our side and we are on His because Christ has reconciled us to Him.  That is why the multitude of angels could sing on that first Christmas, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  There is peace between us and God because Christ was born to purchase and win our forgiveness.  Jesus’ death and resurrection removed our sin from us.  Now we are at peace with God and stand before Him holy and righteous because of the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin.  That’s why God is pleased with us.  Christ Jesus has taken away our sins and put upon us His perfect holiness.  God sees you justified, “just as if I’d” never sinned. 

And that means no wrath, no punishment, no shattered relationship—that’s peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  What greater gift could God give to us than His only Son, the Prince of Peace?  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)  Our sins are forgiven and we are at peace with God.  You can be assured of His presence, love, and grace.  Your consciences are freed from guilt and fear since God is for you, not against you.  The devil can no longer accuse you of your sins.  Death has no power over you.  You have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He is the Child born for us, the Son given for us, God-with-us.  Our Lord Jesus is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  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 or might.  Jesus humbled Himself to perfect obedience to our heavenly Father.  He 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 in peace with God.  Such love, such grace, such mercy!  That is this Child of promise.  Amen. 


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