When we think of the Christmas story, we focus rightly on the miraculous conception and birth of the baby God promised. As we enter into the Advent season this year, let’s start right off by reminding ourselves that the promise made by God goes many levels deeper than just the promise of a baby being born by miraculous means (as if that weren’t enough). The amazing thing about this baby’s birth is that His personhood was established long before His birth. In fact, His personhood was established before the beginning of time…mind boggling! We can understand how this could be so in the baby Jesus’ case by checking out the fundamental building blocks of a baby – its DNA.
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
When we are born, our DNA dictates many things about our physical nature. But much about the course of our life and the people we will become in the future is open and takes shape over many years. We are born with physical DNA. We may become princes, may become counselors, but the eventual outcome is never certain at birth, and may take many different turns over the years. The ingredient that completes our personhood doesn’t come until we choose Jesus as our Savior. Then our ‘eternal DNA’ is delivered to us in the form of an indwelt Holy Spirit. It is our eternal DNA that works to change us from the person we currently are at the time of our salvation, into the person God created us to be. And because our physical DNA was established first, we have to continually overcome its propensity to distract us and steer us in the wrong direction. It can be quite a battle! (See Paul’s account of this struggle in his life in Romans 7:14-20)
In the baby Jesus, it’s an entirely different story. Jesus, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit, not only received His eternal DNA first, but received the very DNA of God Himself. Thus, the characteristics of that DNA were part of Jesus’ personhood right from the start. These characteristics were described by God through the prophet Isaiah in our passage. Jesus’ physical self, containing the physical DNA of His mother Mary, indeed needed to grow and develop, but only to catch up to the person He already was. When Mary and Joseph held the baby Jesus in their arms on the night He was born, they weren’t holding a baby who would one day grow up to become the person God had promised, but they held, at that very moment, the promised One. Let’s look at the characteristics of Jesus’ personhood that were wrapped in swaddling clothes that night.
The Bible encourages us to seek wise counsel as a routine part of our decision-making process. Who to offer better counsel than God Himself?!? Jesus counseled many during His life on earth, using parables as His primary means. He criticized wrong thinking and actions in an effort to counsel the misguided back to the truth.
(see Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 8:14, Matthew 9:10-13)
Jesus is God. All that has been created in the entire universe was created by Him. He is the author, editor, publisher, and distributor of it all. All power and authority, as the designer of it all, belongs to Him. He defied the laws of physics often and guided the direction of the physical world in ways only the Mighty Creator could.
(see John 1:1-3, Matthew 28:18, John 2:1-10, Matthew 8:23-27)
Fathers have God-ordained roles as providers, protectors, leaders, and models of righteousness for their families and those around them. Jesus fulfilled each role, providing food for 5,000 hungry people, protecting His disciples from deadly storms, leading by example by washing His disciples’ feet, modeling righteousness by healing on the Sabbath when misguided authorities said it was wrong to do so. The amazing manner in which Jesus took on these roles testified to His unique status as ‘Everlasting Father’ as He brought eternity to bear on each situation. He didn’t harvest food to feed 5,000, He simply spoke, and the food to feed 5,000 became immediately available.
(see Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 8:23-27, John 13:1-17, Matthew 12:9-14)
Prince of Peace
When we are sinners, we are at war with God. Our relationship with God is fractured, distant, and devoid of His presence. Once saved, we can be at peace with God, and our relationship with Him can flourish. The most important aspect of Jesus’ personhood is that of Savior. As the Savior, He takes on the personhood of the Prince of Peace. It is only through His atoning sacrifice on the cross and our faith that His sacrifice was made on our behalf that we can be at peace with God. There is no other way. (see Romans 5:8)
What a privilege and honor it is to know the One and to know that He has always been and will always be who He was on that night in Bethlehem! What a privilege and honor it must have been for Mary to hold the One on that night! (Albeit an anxious, overwhelming, and somewhat scary privilege and honor, I’d guess.) That’s the truth.
For unto you a child is born, unto you a Son is given. This child is not just a baby upon whose shoulders the government will one day rest, but the One upon whose shoulders the government has always rested. He is the One you call Wonderful Counselor; the One you call Mighty God; the One you call Everlasting Father; the One you call Prince of Peace.
©2008,2010 Dan Buckhout
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Internatonal Bible Society.
Used by permission of International Bible Society.