In Isaiah 9:6 we read a Messianic prophecy written nearly seven hundred years before the birth of Christ which says:
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.
This is a popular passage this time of year when many people choose to focus on the birth of Jesus because of its association with Christmas. For the record, Scripture does not indicate when Jesus was born nor does it instruct us to celebrate the day of His birth. Regardless of the absence of such information from Scripture, many in our culture still associate the birth of Jesus with the holiday that is celebrated on December 25. Interestingly, Isaiah’s prophecy challenges us to focus not so much on Jesus’ birth, but on Jesus’ identity because understanding who Jesus is allows us to comprehend why Jesus came. So, over the next few weeks, as the birth of Jesus is prominently displayed and mentioned in our culture, we will explore the identities associated with Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 in order to answer the question posed by the popular hymn, “Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?”
The first identity associated with Jesus in Isaiah’s passage is that of a “Wonderful Counselor.” In the simplest terms, a counselor is “a person who gives advice or counseling." At times, we all need advice, direction, or guidance from someone who possesses a degree of expertise. Such advice may be needed financially when we are trying to decide how to invest our money. Such advice may be needed medically when we are trying to determine the best course of treatment. Such advice may be needed therapeutically when we are trying to improve some aspect of our mental or relational state. Such advice may even be needed mechanically when we are trying to figure out how to repair something. One reason why Jesus came to this earth was to become our “Wonderful Counselor.” But how did Jesus fulfill this role?
First, Jesus is our “Wonderful Counselor” because He listens.
A good counselor is one that listens to others, and Jesus demonstrated throughout His ministry that He willingly and intently listens. For example, when His mother told him about a dilemma at a wedding feast, Jesus was listening (John 2:1-11). When a member of the Jewish council approached Him one evening with questions about being born again, Jesus was listening (John 3:1-15). When a sinful woman washed His feet with her tears and hair, Jesus was listening (Luke 7:36-50). When a Gentile woman begged Him to heal her daughter despite the fact that she was not a Jew, Jesus was listening (Matthew 15:21-28). When a colony of lepers begged Him to have mercy on them, Jesus was listening (Luke 17:11-19). When He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowds declared Him “the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” Jesus was listening (Luke 19:28-40). When the religious leaders falsely accused Him of wrongdoing and the crowds mocked Him, Jesus listened (Matthew 26:59-61; 27:41-43). When a criminal on a nearby cross defended Him and acknowledged His identity, Jesus was listening (Luke 23:39-43).
This small selection of examples of how Jesus listened reveals the beauty of His counselor status. It shows that Jesus listened to every problem regardless of how big or small it seemed. He listened to the dilemma of running out of wine at a wedding in Cana, and He listened to the dilemma of a dying servant. Not only did Jesus listen to every problem, but He also listened to every person. He listened to His mother, and He listened to His enemies. He listened to religious leaders, military leaders, and criminals facing capital punishment. He listened to the outcasts such as lepers and women and people of different ethnicities than Himself. He listened when people praised Him, and He listened when people cursed Him.
In other words, Jesus demonstrated in the flesh what was already true about God, that God hears us. He came to this earth in order to remind us that God is listening. So, consider for a moment what He hears when He listens to you (1 John 5:14-15; Matthew 12:36-37).
The second reason Jesus is our “Wonderful Counselor” is because He understands.
A good counselor will try to learn everything he or she can about a person’s situation in order to provide the best direction possible. The more a counselor understands, the better he or she can advise. Jesus is a “Wonderful Counselor” because He uniquely understands us. The reason Jesus understands us is because He was us. One name associated with Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Jesus was God-in-the-flesh, which means that God experienced life from our perspective. Job once asked God, “Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees?” (Job 10:10). In this statement, Job challenged God’s ability to understand what it is like to be human, and God’s response to that question was for His Son to “empt[y] Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
As a result, Jesus understands what it is like to be hungry (Luke 4:2; Mark 11:12) or tired (Mark 4:38; John 4:6). Jesus understands what it is like to be tempted (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus understands what it is like to feel anger (Mark 3:5; John 2:13-17), sorrow (Luke 19:41; John 11:35), disappointment (Matthew 26:40), frustration (Matthew 16:18), anguish (Matthew 26:38), compassion (Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13), and joy (Luke 10:21). Jesus understands what it is like to be ridiculed (Mark 5:40; Matthew 27:27-31), misunderstood (John 6:53-66), insulted (Matthew 27:39; Luke 23:39), rejected (Luke 4:16-30), and betrayed (Mark 14:10). Jesus even understands what it is like to die (Luke 23:46).
Because Jesus “partook of the same things” as those who “share in flesh and blood” (Hebrews 2:14) and because Jesus “in every respect [was] tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15), He is able to be our sympathizing High Priest who understands what it is like to be us. And, according to Hebrews 4:16, That should give us “confidence [to] draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In other words, Jesus came to this earth in order to understand what it is like to be you and me. So, consider for a moment what He thinks when He watches the way you handle the challenges of life.