In many cultures, the names that are given to children carry particular meaning. For instance, the name ‘Hannah’ comes from the Hebrew word for grace, or the name ‘Sophia’ from the Greek word for wisdom. Often, the names given express something of the hopes of the parents for that child. At Christmas, as we remember the birth of a child, we can ponder the meaning of his names.
We know all about the names Jesus (from ‘Joshua’, meaning God saves) and Emmanuel (meaning God with us). However, long before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah spoke about other names for this child. He said, ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Is 9:6).
Over 700 years before the first Christmas, Isaiah told us who this child is and what he would do.
Isaiah was speaking in dark and distressing times. God’s people were soon to be conquered and taken captive into exile. However, Isaiah offered hope saying , ‘on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned’ (Is 9:2). Hope would come through this child.
We live in a different time, but we need the same hope. Maybe at the moment you’re despondent about your situation. Maybe it’s the social distancing or no overseas holidays. Maybe it’s loneliness or the lost income. Maybe it’s relational troubles or moral failures. Whatever it is that’s getting you down, pondering the names of Jesus is a potent remedy during our gloomy times. Jesus provides us a hope that points beyond our circumstances; a hope that cannot fail and will never disappoint.
As we approach Christmas over the next few online services, we’re going to think more deeply on three of those names from Isaiah: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace. We want to celebrate this child, the one who brings light into our darkness.