I had the privilege in college to perform Handel’s Messiah with the university choir. What a piece of music! If you aren’t familiar with it, check out this flash mob singing the Hallelujah chorus, or if you are a dork like me and want to learn how to sing part of it...check it out here.
Some of the famous words from Scripture (Isaiah 9:6) used in the music:
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.
I heard this scripture many times growing up, but suddenly as a new believer singing the words, they took on depth and meaning. During our performance, it was hard to fight back tears as the music pronounced such amazing truths of our Savior.
What does it mean for Jesus to be called these things?
At first glance, the name wonderful counselor sounds like Jesus is our mental health doctor. But the Bible also described King Solomon as a wise counselor. The term ‘wonderful’ in this passage means incomprehensible. So, it seems the Messiah was to be a king. And not just any king, but an extraordinary king different from any that had come before.
In fact, this extraordinary king would be God himself, born as a child to this earth. Some Bible scholars like Luther actually use the word ‘hero’ here. I love that term, because it is a great reminder of why He came.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
This title for Jesus stumped me for a while, because it seems odd to call Jesus Father since his role in the trinity is Son. However, this name describes his role as head of the new Kingdom. Just as a father rules over his home, so Jesus rules over the kingdom of God. Continuing on in Colossians 1, we see this:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning...”
Colossians 1:15-18, emphasis mine
He existed before creation began, and will reign over the creation he spoke into being as the head of the church for eternity.
Prince of Peace
This name continues the theme of Christ’s leadership. This extraordinary king has brought us a kingdom the like no one has seen before. Instead of just experiencing peace on earth, we are promised peace with God himself, something we can’t gain on our own. Jesus establishes this kingdom by paying the price for our sin on the cross with his own blood. By conquering death and rising from the grave, He claimed His rightful place as Prince of Peace over all creation, which he will restore to perfection at his second coming. Even now, He brings us peace through every earthly circumstance, and ultimate peace from God’s wrath towards our sin.
“[He is] the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Colossians 1:18-19, emphasis mine
Here is the wonderful gospel news in this prophecy of Jesus, written 800 years before His birth.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…"
He came for us. To be our wonderful counselor, our mighty God, our everlasting Father and our Prince of peace.