One of the most beautiful songs in Handel’s masterpiece “The Messiah” is a song called “For Unto Us.” The song is based on this proclamation from the ninth chapter of the book of Isaiah:
“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.” (Isaiah 9:6)
As we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth this month, let us reflect on how Jesus fulfilled these ancient words of prophecy spoken hundreds of years before his birth. We’ll focus especially on the names that Jesus is called in this verse.
First he is called Wonderful Counselor. From a young age Jesus showed his skill as a counselor. According to Luke 2, when he was twelve years old Jesus spent time in the temple in Jerusalem debating with the scholars of his day. When his parents came to take him home, Scripture notes that, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
When he encountered crowds that were interfering with his attempt to rest Jesus did not get frustrated, Instead it says, “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” When people brought children to him he did not turn them away as some suggested but took them in his arms and blessed them.
On many occasions Scripture notes that people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching and that his teaching was different from that of their other teachers. Matthew 22 notes that, after challenging Jesus with lots of questions on many different topics, “No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.”
In another place Jesus counsels us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Can there be any doubt that Jesus was Mighty God in human flesh? He healed all kinds of diseases and infirmities, he cast out demons, he raised the dead. And when he walked on water and calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee his disciples worshiped him saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33) Even as a baby lying in a manger in Bethlehem Jesus had more power in his pinkie finger than all the armies of the world.
It may seem challenging to see Jesus as Everlasting Father since he is the Son of God. But the Gospel of John helps us see things clearly. Jesus speaks about our heavenly Father over 100 times in John’s Gospel including these memorable quotes: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10), “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” (John 14) and “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14)
In John 17 Jesus prays to the heavenly Father on our behalf saying, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Finally, from day one Jesus is the Prince of Peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” the angels sang on the night of Christ’s birth. (Luke 2:14) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” Jesus told his disciples shortly before his death on the cross (John 14:27). And the first words that Jesus spoke to his disciples when he rose from the dead were, “Peace be with you.”
Going back to Isaiah we are told, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7)
And most important of all this child is given “to us.” The greatest good news of all time does not help us if it is not for us. But this incredible, heavenly Child is given and sent for us and to us. Praise the Lord!
For many people the Christmas season is just not complete without taking time to listen to the beautiful music that Handel wrote on the basis of this verse from Isaiah. We simply cannot stop singing when we realize that the Prince of Peace was sent into the world for us.
For someone to have just one of these names would be impressive. But for one person to have all four names is beyond belief.