It’s fitting that the first passages of Scripture that are referenced as the beginning of this ChristAdvent season come not from the New Testament, but from the Old. Christians believe that Jesus’ birth was prophesied hundreds of years ahead of time.
Jesus frequently identified himself as the fulfillment of what had been written about in the ancient Scriptures. In John 5:39, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me.”
In Luke 24:27, while walking on the road to Emmaus with a couple of disciples, it says Jesus, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
It is on the authority of Jesus himself that we find Jesus in the Old Testament. This is not a case of quirky Christians trying to project Jesus into the Scriptures of our own volition.
Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Since they didn’t know how the story would actually turn out, we can only imagine how the original recipients of Isaiah’s prophecy would’ve understood this passage. They must have been perplexed. The people of Israel expected a Messiah to come, someone who would restore Israel’s kingdom to the glory days of David and Solomon and liberate Jerusalem from foreign oppression.
This Messianic figure is promised throughout the Old Testament. The prophet Micah prophesied where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2). Daniel even gives a precise timeframe for when to expect the Messiah (Daniel 9:25). Isaiah 9:6 makes it clear, though, that the coming Messiah is not going to be merely a human being. The Child that is going to be born is going to be called “Mighty God”.
If that title wasn’t a clear enough title of divinity, the next title is “Everlasting Father”, another name that denotes Divinity. No mere mortal can ever be described as everlasting. We all had a beginning point.
For all of us regular human beings, there was once a time when we didn’t exist. Not so this promised One. He is “everlasting”. He is given other awesome titles such as Prince of Peace, Wonderful, and Counselor.
This prophecy from Isaiah helps to explain why Christians make such a big deal about Christmas. This is not the celebration of an acclaimed religious figure from the past. It is the not the celebration of a great philosopher, or rabbi. It is not the celebration of a great prophet.
Of course, Jesus was all of those things. But if that’s all he was, Christians would hardly be justified in acclaiming him as the Savior of the world. Jesus was a great teacher, a great prophet, but more importantly he was (and is) God himself.
Christmas is the time when something utterly unique occurred in human history. The Creator actually entered into his own created order. The Bible is replete with miracles, but this once-in-history event is, as C.S. Lewis said, “the Grand Miracle.”