By Pastor Glenn Pease
Corrie Ten Boom is one of the best known names in the 20th century. But many do not know that Corrie had more than one name. In 1977 a group of several hundred Christian Indians honored her in Flagstaff, Arizona, by giving her an Indian name. Tom Claus, a
Mohawk and president of the group, made this presentation-
"I want you to know that we accept you as an Indian; you are our
blood sister, and you are our spiritual sister in Jesus Christ.
When we bestow an Indian name, it is the highest honor we can
give. When your name was nominated to our CHIEF committee we
thought that we would like to pick a name that is really meaningful to
We realize that in the past you have identified with the Jews in
their suffering-now you have identified with American Indians in
our plight. Even though you have been on the front line of battle and
have seen bloodshed and war, you have always been a demonstration of God's love. That is why we give you the name Loma-Si, which
is Hopi for "beautiful flower," because you are one of God's beautiful flowers. We do thank God for you ...."
Like many of the people of the Bible she received a new name of honor. Because names have always been important to Indians they have left their mark on our culture. Over 20 states have Indian names. The great rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri and 4 out of 5 of the Great Lakes have Indian names. There are hundreds of cities and lakes and streams all over our nation with Indian names. The poet has rightly said,
Ye say they all have passed away
That noble race and brave
That their light canoes have vanished
From off the crested wave.
That mid the forests where they roamed
Their rings no hunter's shout
But their name is on your waters
Ye may not wash it out. Author Unknown
Names play a major role in our history and our heritage as Americans. In 1507 a German professor in a French college edited a map of the world. As he read up on the discovery of the new world he found that much of it was explored by Americus Vespucci. He said, "I do not see what hinders us from calling it America." He did so name it and the name stuck. Professor David Muzzy in his American History writes, "so it came about that this continent was named by a German professor, in a French college, for an Italian navigator in the service of the King of Portugal."
Names have determined so much in our history and our environment but more important yet they determine our destiny. God is a great lover of names and name giving. The book of Revelation says, we will get new names in heaven. The Bible is full of genealogies which are just lists of names. Many of them mean nothing to us but they were important to God and His people. God gave the first man and woman their names and He gave the second Adam His name as well. This most important child ever born on this planet was named by his true Father in heaven. Gabriel came to Mary and said to her in Luke 1:31, "you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.' Later in a dream the same message came to Joseph in Matt.1:21. The angel of the Lord said to him, "she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin." Like the spirit of the child, the name of the child also came from heaven. This name was so important to God He made sure both of His earthly parents received a supernatural message as to what they were to name Jesus.
This name is now the most celebrated name in history. Like the vast majority of babies Jesus was born without fanfare or fame. There were no reporters and no headlines for though all heaven rang as the angels sang, on earth there was barely a ripple. Everything is different now, as the hymn says,
"There's no other name like that of Jesus,
There's none in all the world beside,
For there's no other name can give salvation,
In His love I will abide."
There are more songs on the name of Jesus than any other name-Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know; Take The Name Of Jesus With You; There's Something About That Name and His Name Is Wonderful, Just to mention a few that are well known.
The prophet Isaiah predicted that a child would be born in Israel who would acquire a name for himself- a name above every name. If you like to know big names then you will want to get acquainted with this coming child, Isaiah would advise. His name will be the biggest ever. In fact, His name is so big it is a multiple name. There are not enough powerful descriptive adjectives to describe it. Isaiah says He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Wonderful, or full of wonder is His name. It inspired Handel's Glorious Messiah with it's Hallelujah Chorus that has brought millions to their feet before the bearer of this name. Napoleon was rightly awestruck by this name. He said, "Is it not amazing that whereas the ambitious dreams of Caesar, Alexander and myself should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant should be able to stretch a hand across the centuries and control the destinies of nations and the children of men."
There is no other name like that of Jesus. It is truly a wonder. Emerson said, "His name is not so much written as ploughed into the history of the world." At one time the Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus on a pagan holiday. Now the pagan world celebrates on a Christian holiday. Everything connected with the name of Jesus is transformed for His name is wonderful and does wonders. There is no greater wonder in the universe than the wonder of Christmas. This marks the day when our planet was invaded by a superior force from another realm. A power opposed to the sin and folly of human nature, and yet it did not invade to destroy, but to redeem. This is no minor wonder, but rather the greatest wonder of all, and that is why His name of Wonderful.
He did not come to judge the world,
He did not come to blame,
He did not come to seek, it was to save He came,
And when we call Him Savior, then we call Him by His name.
There are so many names of Jesus in the Bible that He is literally all things to all men. He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Someone put together this interesting list:
"He is to the artist-THE ONE ALTOGETHER LOVELY
He is to the architect-THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE
He is to the baker-THE LIVING BREAD
He is to the biologist-THE LIFE
He is to the builder-THE SURE FOUNDATION
He is to the carpenter-THE DOOR
He is to the doctor-THE GREAT PHYSICIAN
He is to the educator-THE TRUTH
He is to the farmer-THE LORD OF THE HARVEST
He is to the florist-THE ROSE OF SHARON, THE LILY OF THE VALLEY
He is to the philosopher-THE WISDOM OF GOD
He is to the preacher-THE WORD OF GOD
He is to the statesman-THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS."
We could go on almost endlessly as there are several hundred names, titles and symbols of Jesus in the Bible. But the name above all these names is the name that covers all the rest, and that name is Jesus, the Savior of His people. This is the most wonderful of all His wondrous names.
This is the name God gave to Mary and Joseph. This is the name that makes Christmas the greatest day of celebration in history. This is the name that opens the gates of heaven. In God's plan it is not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. If you know this name you can get into the very presence of God. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but by me." There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. This name is the open sesame to the mind of God.
The New Testament is filled with reference to the power of the name of Jesus. The prayer of the church in Acts 4:30 sums up the whole of the early Christians conviction about the source of their power. Their prayer was, "Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." The early Christians called upon the name of Jesus for their every need. They were baptized in the name of Jesus. They preached and healed in the name of Jesus, and they suffered for the name of Jesus.
The purpose of God in choosing Paul was that He might have someone to carry the name of Jesus to the world of the Gentiles. The essence of success in the New Testament is described in Acts 19:17, "And the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor." That is the bottom line, not just for Christmas but for all the year. Do we hold the name of Jesus in high esteem? Do we honor and exalt that name that God has made the name above all names?
Our text is the only place I am aware of where the Christ child of Christmas is given a series of names that make Him the greatest being ever born. He is called-
I. WONDERFUL COUNSELOR.
There is debate as to whether there should be a coma between these two words or not. Should it be Wonderful, Counselor as in two different ideas, or just one as in Wonderful Counselor? The NIV leaves the coma out but the Berkley puts it in. Obviously scholars are not absolutely sure which way Isaiah intended us to take it. It really does not make any difference if you realize the point is these names are to exalt Jesus. They lift Him to the heights of adoration. So you simply need to reason, if He is wonderful and a counselor it follows that He is a wonderful counselor. In this context of being the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, it follows that He is wonderful as everything that He is.
A WONDERFUL SHEPHERD
A WONDERFUL SAVIOR
A WONDERFUL SON
A WONDERFUL SERVANT
A WONDERFUL STAR
And on and on we could go from alpha to omega. There is no point in trying to figure out if the coma is needed or not. Take it both ways and any other way you can imagine, for the point is He is wonderful in every way that can be imagined. You never have to fear lest you exalt the name of Jesus in some way that is not so.
He was the wonder baby of all time. He was the only baby of all time that was older than His mother. He made the ground on which she laid to give Him birth. He made the air that she breathed and the stars that she gazed up at in her labor. Without Him was not anything made that was made.
There was no room in the inn for this wonder baby, but the wonder is He grew up with a heart so big He took in the whole world. He died for the sins of the whole world, and thus, this wondrous gift was the only gift ever given to meet the deepest need of all mankind. No wonder people all over the world sing-
"Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me
Prince of Peace, Counselor, Mighty God is He
Saving me, Keeping me from all sin and shame
He is my redeemer, praise His name!"
II. MIGHTY GOD
When a Jewish writer tells us a baby is going to be called Mighty God, he has either gone insane or he is revealing the mystery of the Incarnation. The latter is what Isaiah is doing here. He is saying a human baby will be called a name that no one would call anyone but Jehovah. Here is the God-Man in prophesy as clear as you can get it.The Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah because they were strict monotheists. What they failed to realize is that Jesus did not change that. There is only one God and He is the One. The Jesus of the New Testament is the same God as the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Everything we know about God is known through the Word of God and Jesus is the Word. Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." Jesus is the Mighty God, the God of all gods.
If Jesus was not this we would have to agree with Judaism that it would be idolatry to worship Jesus. But at His birth this baby was worshiped by angels, shepherds and wise men. He was, is, and ever will be Mighty God. Jesus said, "All power in heaven and on earth is given unto me." This was His clear claim to be the one Isaiah pointed to. Nobody else has ever claimed such power. Christmas is the celebration that it is because it is the birthday of the Mighty God in the flesh.
"This infant is the Mighty God
Come to be suckled and adored
The Eternal Father, Prince of Peace
The Son of David and His Lord."
III. EVERLASTING FATHER
Isaiah is saying this baby is the Father of eternity. He who was born gave birth to all that is. He is the Father of all. Jesus said He and the Father are one, and so He takes on the very name of the Father. He is Immanuel, God with us; not anyone else with us, but God with us. You cannot separate the Father and the Son for they are one.
Isaiah anticipates John's saying, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The Old Testament and the New Testament are united in this, the Messiah who would be born as a baby was God for all eternity. The pre-existence of Jesus is clearly revealed in both testaments.
Jesus is the Father of eternity in the sense that everything that will last forever is His doing. So much of reality is only temporary, and it will pass away. But that which Jesus creates will be forever for He is the Father of foreverness. If there is eternal life it is because He fathered it. If there is eternal song and joy it is because he fathered it. He only stayed a baby for months but He is a father forever. His birthday and childhood are only celebrated because of what he fathered. Adam is the father of the fallen race of men, but Jesus is the father of the risen race of men. Jesus never had a child in His manhood, but He has fathered the one and only race of men who will live forever. He is the Everlasting Father.
IV. PRINCE OF PEACE
Many Christians hate the war-torn pages of the Old Testament. God's people were constantly in battle, and death was ever lurking near even if they won. Well, they hated it too, and longed for one who would bring a lasting peace, and set them free from a life of strife. This was the messianic hope. G. Campbell Morgan, the prince of expositors, writes, "If I could write one word across the prophecy of Isaiah, a word that catches the underlying motive, what would it be? Peace, God's great purpose of peace. He is the Prince of Peace."
There can be no greater kingdom than a kingdom where there is perpetual peace. This will be the ultimate goal of the Messiah. Even now this is the goal for the inner life for the believer Paul writes in II Thess. 3:16, "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way." This is a prayer for peace to the Prince of Peace because even in this battle scared world the goal is to have peace, and live peaceably with all men.
Jesus had such a complex name that it would be terrible if He had to sign His name as we often do today. An Indian petitioned a judge of an Arizona court to give him a shorter name. His name was Chief Switching Train Whistle. "What do you wish to change you name to?" The judge asked. The Indian folded his arms and said, "Toot." This reveals that a short name can convey what is involved in a long one.
Jesus is the simple name that conveys all that is involved in His many other names. Frans Delitzsch, the Old Testament scholar wrote, "The name Jesus is the combination of all the Old Testament titles used to designate the coming one according to His nature and His works." It is not only the goal of Christmas but the very goal of life to know God by His first name-JESUS.