Wonderful Counselor

Isaiah 9:6 “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 Counselor…”

When Jesus speaks to us, his words are “wonderful.” By “wonderful” the prophet means more than “very good,” or “great,” or even “nice.” He means that Jesus and his words are actually “full of wonder.” When Jesus speaks to us, his words fill us with amazement. We can hardly believe what he is saying–our eyes open wide, our jaws hit the floor–so astounding are the things he has to say.

Think of how people reacted to him during his earthly ministry. The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught like one who had authority, and not as the teachers of the law. Jesus’ enemies were amazed at his words when he escaped the traps they had set for him. His own disciples were amazed when he told them how hard it is for the rich to enter heaven, or when he showed them that he knew more about catching fish than they did.

Are we amazed by Jesus’ words? Even much of the Christian church seems set on softening God’s law, toning down his perfectly holy standards so that we can justify ourselves. We want to consider ourselves “good people.” Are we amazed when Jesus reveals to us that even the most secret and momentary lusts or resentments are damning sin? On the other hand, does it fill us with wonder–just knock our socks off–when he has a promise of God’s love, a word of forgiveness, an assurance of God’s continuing grace for wicked rascals like me and you, as he did for the prostitutes, the cheats, and the thieves, after he has led us to repentance?

This is what it means that Jesus is our “Wonderful Counselor:” his words are so unique, so perfectly true, so deeply caring and gracious that they simply overwhelm us with the wonder of what they tell us.

And note that the prophet does not call Jesus our teacher, our preacher, or our prophet here (though he certainly is all these things). Isaiah specifically identifies him as our Counselor. A Counselor is someone whom we have come to trust, someone in whom we know we can confide. A Counselor is someone who has taken a personal and individual interest in us, and his words are meant to apply to our unique and individual situation.

So it is with Jesus. He assures us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” While his words have something to say to everyone, he wants us to be sure he intends every one of his words to be believed, treasured, and followed just by you. Our Savior has no ordinary name. He is our Wonderful Counselor. Perhaps we will want to hear what he has to say.

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