by Rayola Kelley
We are embarking upon the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is not only controversial among some Christians, but its symbols are offending those in America who have no tolerance for the Christian faith. Although Christians can debate about when Jesus was born, the reality is that unbelievers in America clearly recognize the statement that is being made by Christians this time of year— that Jesus Christ came into this world.
Why is this event so important that we feel the need to emphasize it? The prophet Isaiah prophesied about this event hundreds of years before it ever happened. For God to note it, we, as His people, must rightfully note it. We may not have the day right, and it may be surrounded by pagan connotations, drowned out by commercialism, and is often nothing more than an unhindered display of selfishness, but, as His people, we must note this event with a right attitude. This means that we must get it right in our hearts and minds.
Let us consider the words of Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). We know this prophecy is in regard to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the words of Isaiah must be considered in light of Jesus.
The first fact is that a child is born. What is unique about a child being born? After all, there are many children being born daily. However, this child, Jesus, would not be just any child. He would be born of a virgin. In other words, His conception was done outside of the natural process of conception. His intrusion into humanity was not a matter of man’s will or doing, but God’s will and miraculous doing (Isaiah 7:14; John 1:13).
Why would this child be born of a virgin? Jesus would become a sinless sacrifice on behalf of mankind. We know that man inherits Adam’s disposition. As a result, man in his fallen condition would have to be bypassed to present Jesus as a perfect offering for the sins of mankind. The Man Jesus would become identified with the plight of man without giving way to sin. A virgin would also present a pure environment in which this child could be fashioned without being touched by any defilement. Once again, this pointed to the necessity of maintaining Jesus’ sinless condition.
We know that a virgin by the name of Mary was chosen. Mary was from the lineage of King David, the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:26-38; 3). This points to the Promised Messiah and the future King of Israel. Isaiah confirms this by stating that the government would be upon His shoulder, and that He would reign from the throne of David, forever. It is important to realize that lineages were of the utmost importance to the Jewish people. God had set this nation of people apart to bring forth the Messiah. Lineages were preserved, so the Levitical Priesthood would maintain its integrity, and this future King could be identified. Even though there were many Jews who refused to consider Jesus’ lineage, it clearly identified Him as the Deliverer that God had promised His people.
The next fact we are given about this Promised Messiah is that He is a Son. What is so significant about the fact that Jesus was a son? Every male child has been a son. The key is found in the term, “a son is given.” Children are born, but how many have been given? What does it mean for Jesus to be given as a Son? The first real glimpse we see in Jesus being given as a Son is found in John 3:16: ”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Emphasis added.)
If you meditate on the concept of a Son being given, you once again realize that Jesus was not born as a Son. Rather He was given as a Son. This terminology is important. Jesus is not just any son. He was put in the position of a son for a purpose. Jesus came into the human race by way of birth. He was born into the human race with the responsibility of being the Son of God.
The Scriptures definitely show us Jesus’ origins are eternal, and not that of a son or a man. We know according to John that He was both the Word and God before He took on the position of the Son in the midst of creation. Jesus declared that He existed before He came as the Son of God (John 1:1; 8:58). The Apostle Paul revealed how Jesus gave up His capacity as God (power and authority) to take on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-8). Such a concept makes sense because, as the Son of God, Jesus was in a position of submission and servitude before the Father.
Clearly, Jesus was known in another capacity before He was fashioned in the womb of Mary. In the Old Testament, Jacob saw the LORD, standing at the top of the ladder. In other words, he saw Jesus, the fullness of the Godhead manifest Himself as a visible being. (Compare and study Genesis 28:12-13; John 5:37; and Colossians 2:9.) We read that Joshua humbly bowed down before the Captain of the hosts of the LORD and worshipped Him (Joshua 5:13-15). The Apostle Paul stated that Jesus was known as the Rock that gave spiritual drink in the wilderness to the children of Israel (1 Corinthians 10:2-4); In Isaiah 6, the prophet saw His Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. It is important to note how Lord is written in Isaiah 6. For example, in many of the Scriptures where Isaiah is responding to Him, it is written “Lord.” If you study Philippians 2:9-11, you will realize this is referring to Jesus. In Isaiah 6:12, it is written “LORD” which is another term for Jehovah. This term reminds us of the sovereign lordship (power and authority) of God over all creation. This power and authority can also be clearly identified in the work of all three Persons of the Godhead.
Another interesting name that the prophet Isaiah gives Jesus in Isaiah 6:5 is the LORD of hosts. As you study this term, you will see where the LORD of hosts is King and Redeemer (Psalm 24:10; Isaiah 44:6; 47:4). We know that Jesus is King of kings, Lord of lords, as well as our Redeemer. As the LORD of hosts in this text, Jesus is being referred to as Jehovah, the One who is over all the armies of heaven. This is in compliance to Joshua’s encounter with Him in Joshua 5 and according to Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 8:6: “…by whom are all things, and we by him” and Colossians 1:16-17: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers—all things were created by him, and for him; And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Once again, we are reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 that the government would be upon the shoulders of this Son, showing His authority. But, it is also equally important to note who will carry this out with zeal. According to Strong’s Concordance, zeal in this text means jealousy. Therefore, who will carry this prophesy out with jealousy? The LORD of hosts will perform this task (Isaiah 9:7). In other words, Jesus Christ will complete or fulfill this prophecy.
God gave the world His Son. Clearly, Jesus took on the position of the Son. But, what does it mean for Jesus to be the Son of God? Many religious people use this term without understanding it. Few realize that it was this very term, the Son of God, that gave the Pharisees the excuse to crucify Jesus.
For Jesus to be the Son of God, it meant that He was equal with the Father (John 5:18). Therefore, Jesus possesses the same nature, characteristics and status as the Father. For Christians, as the Son of God, He would be the place where all of their eternal inheritance would be obtained and realized. As God in bodily form, He would reflect the very character and heart of the Father. He confirmed this by making this statement in John 14:9b: “…He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?”
In what way did Jesus serve as the Son of God? The word “given” in Isaiah 9:6 means to appoint, ascribe, assign, and to bring forth. As the Son, Jesus would be appointed to carry out the Father’s will. Jesus made the statement throughout the Gospel of John that His Father had sent Him to do His will. Clearly, Jesus came by way of woman to fulfill the criteria as Messiah, but He was sent to do the bidding of the Father.
Jesus would be ascribed to bring forth the Words of God. In His life would be the Living testimony and witness of the heart, mind and will of God. When He spoke, it came from the throne of God. He touched people with a bit of heaven, and revealed the commitment of God to save people.
He was given the assignment to become the Lamb of God. Christmas may have a tree at the center of its celebration, but Christianity has a tree at the center of its promise of redemption, the cross. Lights may distinguish the beauty of the Christmas tree, but Jesus is the light of the world that reveals the darkness of man’s soul in order to bring hope. The Christmas tree may be adorned with ornaments, but Christianity is adorned with the promises of God. Presents may surround the base of the Christmas tree, but at the base of the Christian’s tree, the cross, is eternal life wrapped up in the love of God. This was made possible because Jesus became the Lamb of God who would secure redemption for us.
Clearly, a Son was given 20 centuries ago. He was given as a gift to mankind. As Isaiah proclaimed in His very names in Isaiah 9:6, one can see the gift of God’s Son was too wonderful to describe. In Jesus, wisdom personified, had come down to serve as the ultimate Counselor to the souls of men. As the Son of God, His very nature as the Mighty God of heaven and earth was brought forth in human form to reveal the glory of the Father. As the Son, He was unveiled to the world on a cross as the only hope of salvation. This would show His commitment as The Everlasting Father who represented the eternal inheritance that came by way of an adoption into a family relationship with God. A Son was given, so that the Son could give His very life for each of us, and, in the end, bring peace. As the Prince of Peace, He would ensure the presence of peace through reconciliation with God, abiding peace as He reigned as King and Lord from the throne of hearts, and everlasting peace as His life is realized in the earthly tabernacles of believers’ lives (John 1:1, 12, 14; 14:27; 17:5; Romans 8:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 1:14, 20; James 3:17).
Regardless of our attitude about the celebration of Christmas, as believers, let us take the time to remember that a Son was given as a gift to each of us. Like the angels long ago, let us rejoice at His footstool. Like the shepherds on that glorious night, let us honor Him at His throne of humility, worship Him in line with His Spirit, within the boundaries of His character, and in loving adoration. Like the wise men, let us not forget to seek Him daily until we find Him in the secret chambers of our prayers, at the altars of our hearts, and in the Most Holy Place of communion. Let us this season make an indelible statement to this world that lies in darkness, by rejoicing in the remembrance that a Son was indeed given as a precious gift to all mankind, and by the grace of God, we have embraced this wonderful gift of life.
My prayer is that in this season of remembrance, each of you will rejoice in light of the spirit of the gift that God freely gave this world.