Last week I shared some practical tips to help you and your family focus your attention on Advent this December. One of those was reading Christmas-related Scripture throughout the month, and a Tripp tradition was memorizing and reciting Luke 2:1-20.
That’s a rather lengthy passage to remember, particularly for younger children, so here’s another shorter option. It’s perhaps my favorite Christmas verse of all—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.
Why do I love this passage so much? Because in these four names of Jesus, you find the complete content of the Christmas story.
1. Wonderful Counselor
It is one of the functional contradictions of sin. Sin reduces us all to fools, yet at the very same time, it also convinces us that we are smarter than God. As a result, we minimize the danger of what God calls dangerous, we question the need for the boundaries that God has set for us, and, in the face of our own sin, we argue that it’s not so bad after all. Every day in some situation or relationship, we are tempted to think we are wiser than God. Without the rescue of Christ’s wonderful counsel and wisdom, we are all fools heading for danger we simply don’t see.
2. Mighty God
Sin doesn’t just reduce us to fools; it also renders us unable. So Jesus came to do by divine power what we could not do for ourselves. Sin causes us all to be unable to be what God designed us to be and do what God created us to do. So Jesus would unleash his power to defeat sin and death and then empower us to desire and do what we would not be able to do without his power working in and through us.
3. Everlasting Father
Jesus, by his life, death, and resurrection, welcomes us into his family once again. He is the door by which we have access to God. He lavishes his fatherly love, and we are blessed with all the rights and privileges of being his children. No longer separated, lost, alienated, and alone, we live forever as the sons and daughters of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
4. Prince of Peace
Christ produced what you and I desperately need but have no power to deliver—vertical and horizontal peace. Sin alienates us from God and one another, making us enemies with God and casting us into constant conflict with other people. We are naturally better fighters than lovers. But God had a solution, a gift we could never achieve, earn, or deserve. Through the work of the Prince of Peace, we are invited to live in a worshipful community with God and a loving community with others.
So I encourage you to memorize and recite Isaiah 9:6 this December, perhaps more than any other passage. There is no more stirring, encouraging prophecy of the birth of Jesus than this.
Under the careful direction of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah purposefully chose these four names to communicate how, specifically, the Messiah Son is what you and I desperately need.
Paul David Tripp
1. What other Christmas-related Bible passages should you memorize and recite this month?
2. Is it easier or more exciting for you to watch Christmas movies or participate in other Christmas traditions over Scripture? How can you continue to shift your focus and priorities as a family to the Word of God?
3. How did you reveal your foolishness this week? What wonderful counsel is provided in the Bible to help you?
4. How did you reveal your inability this week? What were you physically unable to do on your own that you needed help with? What about spiritually? Where were you unable to do what you wanted to do because of the sinful nature (see Romans 7)?
5. What are some of the right here, right now privileges and comforts of being a child of God? Be specific. How do these provide you with hope and strength for what you face today?
6. Where were you a better fighter than a lover this week? How did your sinful nature cause you to be antisocial and destructive in a relationship? From whom do you need to confess and seek forgiveness?