In the prophecy written by Isaiah over 700 years before Jesus came there were some titles Isaiah gave to the son who would be born of a virgin. One of those titles is Wonderful Counselor. Jesus has many titles since He is the eternal Son of God who has all power. Wonderful Counselor is one that I think gets overlooked sometimes, but is so needed today.
There is so much confusion in the world today due to economic crisis, conflicts between countries, uncertainty about the future, famine, sickness, and a vast array of religious/philosophical teachings. Sometimes we can wonder where is it all going. We can also wonder what to do or what direction we should take in our personal lives.
Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. He wants to share His wisdom with us. He already knows the future because He is eternal and is already there. He has already given the invitation. He said- “come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest”. That is an open invitation for ALL. The invitation is not for an exclusive club or special group of people. It is for ALL. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor who will guide ALL who seek Him. The question is will we ask Him to guide us.
When the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds they said something wonderful. They told the shepherds that there was good news of great joy for ALL people. Jesus the Savior was born. The announcement was made to one of the lowest classes of people. Shepherds were not high in society yet they are the ones that god sent the Angel to give the announcement to. God’s ways are not our ways. We would send the angel to the UN or to the President of a country. God sent them to shepherds because God wants us to knwo and understand that Jesus is indeed for ALL people.
Jesus is for the poor and rich, for the important and unimportant, the educated and uneducated, for the Asians, the Africans, the Hispanics, the Europeans, the Arabs. Jesus is for ALL people. All means one hundred per cent of ALL people ever born and yet to be born. He is the fullest and most complete expression of God’s love for us that has ever and will ever be shown. God loves YOU. God loves ALL of US, no exceptions and no preconditions. The only question is- do we want to receive His love?
Today is Super Saturday and the stores are busy. I had lunch with friends at a Mongolian Grill close to Westfield-Gateway- Mall. The restaurant was full. There was a lot of traffic. This week people will be busy with shopping and preparing for Christmas. We can get so busy that we miss out on what is really important much like the first Christmas.
The first Christmas Bethlehem was full of people. They had come for the census decreed by Caesar. It was so busy that Joseph and Mary could not find a place to stay. There was no way to do advanced reservations since no technology existed. Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem for the census to find there was no place for them to stay. They ended up staying in a stable where the animals slept and ate. That was in the plan of God, but it raises one thought in my mind. Think of all the people who said they did not have room for a man and his pregnant wife. Think of the Inn Keeper that would not make room for them and put them in the stable. All of those people missed out on the chance to say that the Savior of the World was born at their house or place. They missed out on being eyewitnesses of the great miracle of a God becoming a man.
That leads me to another question. Will we be too busy this Christmas to make room for Jesus in our lives? Will we miss out on the opportunity to be able to talk about the wonderful things Jesus did for us this Christmas?
The birth of any child is a special occasion because a new life has come into the world. Birth is a miracle of God. There a few births that really stand out in the bible that only happened because of the miracle working power of God.
Abraham and Sarah had their son Isaac when Sarah was over 90 years old. She had not had any children yet and God blessed her with a son when she was too old to have a child. They named him Isaac which means laughter because they understood the humor involved. The birth of Isaac happened in a way that showed that it could only happen because of God. Isaac carried on the line of Abraham that led to the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years later.
Moses was born when the Pharaoh of Egypt wanted all the first born Jewish boys killed to prevent a deliverer from rising up. Moses’s mother placed him in a basket and Moses ended up being raised by Pharaoh’s household. Even better was the fact that they needed someone to nurse him and that ended up being Moses’s birth mother. Moses went on to be used of God to deliver the Jews from slavery in Egypt.
John the Baptist was born to a couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, when they were old. Elizabeth had not had any children yet and was past the childbearing age. God caused Elizabeth to be able to become pregnant with John the Baptist who went on to prepare the people for Jesus to come.
The most special birth of all was the birth of Jesus. It was spoken about over 700 years before Jesus came by a man named Isaiah. He wrote- “a sign will be given to you, a virgin will be with child…” A virgin will be with child. That could happen today with modern medicine assisting, but back then there was one way to get pregnant and that was to have sex. A virgin with child would be a great miracle indeed. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit caused it to happen. Jesus went on to die for our sins and defeat death by coming back to life on the third day.
Jesus was born at a time when there were no computers, fax machines, or cell phones. There was no text messaging or chat. Communication took days and sometimes weeks or even months depending on how far the news had to travel. Distance is no problem for God. If God wants to communicate, He can do it with or without human involvement. Such was the case at the first Christmas.
Joseph did not want to take Mary as his wife because he did not believe her story at first. An Angel spoke to Joseph in a dream to tell him that the baby Jesus was from God. Sometime after the baby Jesus was born, King Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus but the Angel again came to Joseph in a dream and warned him to leave and take Mary and Jesus and escape before Herod’s soldiers came. The 3 wise men were asked by Herod to tell him where they found the baby, but they were warned in a dream that Herod wanted to harm the baby, so they left by another way. After Herod died, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream to tell him it was safe to return.
God is always speaking. He can speak through others. He can speak through the bible. He can speak in many ways. The two questions are; are we listening and will we follow through on what we are told.
At Christmas time many people exchange gifts. Children will wake up early on Christmas morning excited to see what presents they have. Presents are always nice to receive. Sometimes they are just to make the person happy and express our love. Sometimes there is a meaning behind the present such as when a man gives his wife a special gift out of his love for her.
At the first Christmas, actually some time later, there were gifts given to the baby Jesus by three wise men who came to see Jesus. One of the gifts had a meaning behind it that I do not think even the wise men knew. The gift was myrrh. Myrrh was used for perfume and had a special use as a perfume. Myrrh was used to embalm the body of someone after they died. In those days they wrapped the body of a dead person in strips of cloth and would use perfumed lotion as well. The gift of Myrrh foretold the purpose of Jesus coming to us as a baby. He came to die for us. That was the plan. Jesus left heaven to come to earth as a baby for the purpose of growing to be a man so He could die a brutal death on the cross to pay the penalty of sin for us so that we could be forgiven and brought into relationship with God as our Father.
The story does not stop with the death of Jesus. On the third day He came back to life in a resurrected body. He defeated death for us. Jesus is alive. That is why Christmas has meaning. If Jesus had not died and defeated death for us, then His birth has no meaning and He would have been just another baby that was born. Jesus did die for us and defeat death for us. That is why Christmas is special and has great meaning for us. That is why the Angel said he would be called Immanuel- God with us. Because of Jesus coming, we can have a relationship with God that will last forever. Forever God with us. We only need to receive the gift by trusting in Jesus and asking Him to forgive us.
When Jesus was born, God made an announcement for the world to know about it. If we were to plan such an announcement, we would get CNN, FOX News, BBC, every possible media outlet to run with the story. The story would run 24 hours a day for quite a while. God made the greatest announcement to ever be given by sending Angels to shepherds in their field with their sheep. Shepherds? What is up with that? Shepherds were dirty and smelled like sheep.
The Angels woke them up and announced the birth of the Savior of the world. That Jesus was for ALL people. They also sang a heavenly choir song to the shepherds. What a way to wake up! We would all be startled by such a wake up call. I would wonder why they came to me of all people if it happened today. The shepherds went quickly into Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. The baby Jesus born to be the Savior of ALL people, poor and rich, high class and low class, respected and disrespected, every ethnic group, every race, every body. That is why the Angels were sent to shepherds.
That and Jesus was called the Lamb of God. These shepherds probably took care of the lambs that were used in the Jewish sacrificial system. Jesus came to save us by sacrificing himself on the cross. The baby Jesus would grow to be our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
That is why the Angelic wake up call was given to shepherds because Jesus was the sacrificial lamb for ALL people.
Imagine being engaged to a woman and she comes and tells you that she is pregnant and the father is God. You might have thoughts like, can’t you come with a better lie than that, or have you gone crazy. When Mary told Joseph about how the Angel Gabriel told her she would have a child from God and that she was pregnant, Joseph understandably didn’t believe her. He was a good man and did not want to cause trouble for her. He was going to end their relationship quietly, so she would not be killed.
The angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and told Joseph the baby was indeed from God and to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Joseph took Mary as his wife and became the step-father of Jesus. It does seem too incredible to believe that God loved us so much the eternal Son of God who had no beginning and will never have an end stepped out of eternity to become a human baby to save us. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we will believe this incredible story and trust Jesus or reject Him.
At Christmas time I tend to think more about the example of Mary that we can all follow. Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel who told her about God’s plan to bring Jesus into the world as a human baby. Mary was a virgin and at that time it was not possible for a virgin to have a child. There were no fertility clinics to go to back then.
Mary wondered how it could happen and the Angel told her through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary said yes to the plan of God. The plan for Jesus to leave heaven and come to earth to be born as a human baby. One not so little problem for Mary when she said yes to the plan of God. She was then at risk to be stoned to death. That was when they killed someone by thrownig rocks at them. That is what could happen to a woman who had sex outside of marriage. By Mary saying yes to God’s plan, it put her at risk for others to not believe here.
Mary was okay. No one hurt her and her fiancee kept her after an angel told him the baby was from God. However, her example of courage to say yes to God inspite of possible consequences is a an example we should all follow.
Several years ago wrote a Drama Monologue for a worship service. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the angels trying to comprehend that Jesus had become a human baby. I wrote it from Gabriel’s perspective. He was the angel that God sent to Mary to tell her of His plan. Imagine Gabriel receiving those instructions from God, ” Go tell this young teenage girl that she will give birth to Me”. I wonder if Gabriel tried to wrap his brain around that plan. Here was Jesus who has always been alive and is the eternal God telling Gabriel that Jesus would become a human baby.
Imagine Gabriel seeing the baby Jesus in the Manger. Only 9 months before that, Jesus was on His throne in heaven and then there He was a human baby. The bible talks about how even the angels long to comprehend the will of God on the salvation of humans. Now try to comprehend for yourself that the eternal God loved you so much He left heaven to become a human baby to fulfill the plan of God, so that we can be forgiven. I cannot comprehend it. It is beyond my understanding. I can only receive it and trust in it. As I celebrate Christmas my foremost thought will be about the love of Jesus that blew the minds of even the angels.