“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” —ISAIAH 9:6
IN THIS TEXT, Isaiah, by the Spirit of God, is prophesying concerning the birth of Jesus, the coming Messiah.
We could preach a sermon or two on the phrase “his name shall be called Wonderful,” then preach several on “Counsellor” and “The mighty God.” In fact, we could almost preach forever on these phrases. In this article we’ll consider the phrase “his name shall be called Wonderful.”
Jesus was Wonderful in His conception and the announcing of His birth. All of the writers of the Gospel cover the story, but because Luke goes into a little more detail, I like his account best.
Luke begins by telling us the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was espoused, or engaged, to a man named Joseph. When Gabriel greeted Mary and told her she was highly favored by God, she was troubled. She was not sure what manner of salutation this was. Let’s let the Word of God tell the rest.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
The announcement that Jesus was to be born was Wonderful—an angel came down to announce it!
Furthermore, His conception was Wonderful. Mary questioned how it could be possible that a virgin could conceive and bear a son. The angel replied, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (v. 35). Mary responded, “Be it unto me according to thy word” (v. 38).
Shortly afterward Mary went to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who was to have a baby in her old age. As Luke notes in chapter 2, Mary didn’t tell anybody about the angel’s visit; she just pondered his sayings in her heart. Therefore, her cousin Elisabeth didn’t know what had happened to Mary at the time she began to prophesy. Elisabeth was speaking by the Holy Spirit:
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
We can readily see how the word Wonderful applies to the announcement that Jesus was to be born and how He would be conceived. Now we’ll see how that word also applies to His actual birth.
Luke tells us that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed—each in his own city. Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, who was great with child. While they were there, Mary brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke continues his account of this wonderful birth:
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [Now notice:]
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Not only did the angel appear to them, but it says the glory of the Lord shone round about them. That same glory of God was manifested all through the Old Testament: many times as a cloud; sometimes as a bright, shining light.
The angel of the Lord announced the Savior’s birth to these shepherds in a wonderful way. So they went quickly to Bethlehem to see what the Lord had made known to them.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Isaiah’s prophecy, inspired by the Spirit of God, was fulfilled when Jesus was born. And through Jesus, God wrought for us His great plan of redemption. As part of that plan, Jesus’ birth was indeed wonderful!