Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | December 24, 2010

Sermon on Isaiah 9:6-7

Downloadable version

Jesus Christ — the Christmas Prodigy

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

On Facebook, I sometimes refer to my children as “prodigies.”  Parents and grandparents can sympathize.  I know that my children aren’t the smartest children in the world.  But I like to think that they are.  I know that my children aren’t the cutest children in the world.  But I like to think that they are.  I know my children aren’t the best behaved children in the world.  But I like to think that they are.  It’s pretty common for parents to hold an exalted view of their children.  Because they’re our children, our flesh and blood, that which is most precious to us in the world.

Not only do we hold our children up on a pedestal and compare all other children to our own, but we also have great hopes and dreams for them.  And that hope springs eternal.  My child could be president one day.  Or you envision your children following in your footsteps, succeeding you, supplanting you.  But sadly, just as much as you know that your children probably aren’t the smartest, cutest, or best-behaved children in the world, you know that there’s also a chance that your children won’t meet your lofty expectations.  Only 44 young boys have turned out to be President of the United States.  Sometimes your children take a tortured path to the final destinations, sometimes they purposely avoid doing what you do or what you’d hope they’d do.  Let’s face it, children aren’t perfect.  Because their parents aren’t perfect.

We treat our government the same way.  When a new administration takes over, hope springs eternal.  We assume that increase, peace, justice, and righteousness will follow.  This will be the beginning of a new era, a new age, a utopia!  But our hopes are dashed.  The era of compassionate conservatism promised by President George W. Bush faded into a decade of two wars, charges of war crimes and torture, and the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Meanwhile, Pres. Obama’s promised post-partisan era, an era of no more favoritism, no more racism, and no more ideology is just as ideological as those that came before.  We still don’t have peace.  The economy still teeters on the brink.  Hopes have been dashed.  Let’s face it, salvation is not found in the state.  Because the state isn’t perfect either.

Ah, but then there’s Christ. 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, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. It is, indeed, possible to over-exaggerate the greatness of your children or the government.  It is possible to put your children on too high a pedestal, for, as Christ says, Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. It is possible to treat your government not as God’s instrument but as your god, expecting it to be your source of peace, security, and freedom, forgetting that Scripture says, Do not put your trust in princes. It is, however not possible to exaggerate the greatness of this Son.  He is really and truly a prodigy.  He is worthy of all the hopes that are placed upon Him.  He can handle the expectations.  And from the moment He was born, they were all upon Him.  And they remain upon Him.

See this wonder in the making, God in the flesh, God now dwelling among us, this child, this son, upon whom the government of the universe rests.  He is Wonderful, that is, beyond understanding, too lofty for us to grasp, a glorious mystery:  Word made flesh, God with us, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, Wonderful!  He is Counselor, that is the planning one, our angel of great advice.  He is Mighty God, that is, not just another amazing human prodigy, like Alexander the Great or Albert Einstein, but the fullness of the Deity, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He is Everlasting Father, that is, the perfect ruler, caring for His people like a parent.  He is Prince of Peace, that is, as Paul writes, He Himself is our peace….His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…through the cross…. All these expectations were perfectly met by the child cradled in Mary’s arms, the child who brings peace to men on whom His favor rests.

But there’s more!  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. There will be no letdown by this administration.  The increases, the successes of this President know no end.  And that’s because it’s not an earthly kingdom, where the 90s are great while the 2000s stink.  This is a kingdom directed toward one end:  forgiveness.  The angel told Joseph:  You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. Listen to the prophets.  Zephaniah:  Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. Isaiah:  Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

All this sounds like the over proud parent.  But it’s not, because it’s about Jesus.  The Father cannot speak to highly about His Son; His Son Who actually fulfilled this, Who actually is this.  It is impossible to speak too highly of Christ.  It is impossible to sing His praises too loudly or too much.  It is impossible to overstate the case for Christ.  He is the LORD our Righteousness, veiled in flesh, born that we no more may die.  Born to give us second birth.  His birth, His death, His resurrection, is our rebirth, our death to sin, our resurrection to life now and life in heaven forever.  A child is given, to you, for you.  He is Christ the Lord!  Amen.

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