There’s going to be a pile of presents under our tree tonight. It’s Christmas Eve. For the first time, our four children have bought a gift for each family member. That means that before Mark and I even put our gifts out, there will be twenty presents filling the floor space around our bauble-laden evergreen.
I love Christmas. I love presents – giving them, getting them, seeing the surprise on each one’s face as they discover what’s inside the colourful wrapping.
But long after all the paper is stashed in the recycling and the gifts are put away, I’ll still be celebrating the One we remember in this special season.
I’ve been pondering two verses in Isaiah chapter 9 of late, words which foretell the coming of Jesus. One particular phrase in verse 7 has stuck with me.
“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.”
Yes, Jesus came as a beautiful, perfect baby. He was a real historical figure. He was born in a stable and was worshipped by shepherds and wise men alike. Isaiah 9: 6 speaks of that child.
But that exciting time was just the beginning.
Jesus didn’t come to the world just to delight everyone with his cuteness. He grew into a man and lived and loved people from all walks of life. He demonstrated His goodness and power in countless miracles – healings, provision, even raising the dead to life. He then laid down His life, taking the punishment for all the ways we’ve blown it and opening up the way for us to walk right into God’s presence (and live there).
Finally, He rose again (was seen by many witnesses) and still lives today. Best of all – He’s at work in our world.
He is the Wonderful Counsellor – the one who understands us completely and gives the best advice;
Mighty God – able to intervene in our lives and turn things around;
Everlasting Father – the faithful Dad who will never leave;
Prince of Peace – the one who remains steady at all times and invites us to walk with Him in that peace.
Our world is trying to push Jesus out, it seems. In America, use of the word ‘Christmas’ is being replaced by a more generic term. In our own nation, Victorian public schools will no longer sing ‘religious’ carols at Christmas time as they may offend some students. There are countries where, for centuries, followers of Jesus have been ostracised, beaten, imprisoned and slaughtered, purely because of their devotion to Him.
Yet He continues to work.
Isaiah 9:7 reminds us that Jesus’ rule is spreading, even now, across the globe. Though we don’t hear about this in the mainstream media, He is reaching into the most unlikely places, touching the most unlikely people, bringing His counsel, His power, His beautiful Fatherly love and His perfect peace right into their midst.
Jesus’ rule isn’t one of domination or violence. He hasn’t raised up a terrifying army. He doesn’t force Himself upon us at all. No. He invites us to come to Him. He offers forgiveness, renewal, healing.
When we open our lives to Him, He fills us with His presence and begins to restore us, starting with all the broken places in our hearts.
It’s been thirty two years since I accepted His invitation. There’s not a moment in that time where I’ve regretted my decision. He has changed me more than I can find words to explain, bringing a love and peace that is beyond compare.
Knowing Him is cause for celebration every day.
“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.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…”