“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6, NRSV )
Matthew 4:12-17 draws on Isaiah 9:2-6 to portray Jesus as the one mentioned in Isaiah who would deliver the people of Israel out of darkness into light. As such, Jesus would be known as “Emmanuel” which means “God with us,” (Matthew 1:23), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. What insight can we gain from each of these names. Let us begin with “Wonderful Counselor.”
In the original context of Isaiah, the description is that of a King who is to be coroneted and crowed as he brings in a new regime filled with justice and righteousness. Earlier, in the book, Isaiah's message to Israel is that the leaders and “princes” of the people have fed their own materialistic needs (for example, Isaiah 3:16-26), and not paid attention to the needs of the people. Moreover, Israel's worship had degenerated into celebrating festivals rather than serving the needs of the widows and orphans in their midst (Isaiah 1:10-16). Therefore, the new King will correct that situation and “take up the case” of the people, and as Counselor-one who defends and helps another-will restore justice.
We see Jesus as Wonderful Counselor in Isaiah 61:1-4, as he stands up and reads from the Isaiah scroll in his hometown (Luke 4:17-19), “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” As counselor, as defender of those who have suffered at the hands of those in power, unjust governments, and oppressive regimes, Jesus comes to proclaim the news of liberation. But for us, Jesus, as Wonderful Counselor, delivers us from the oppressive forces of sin. He frees us from sin's bondage, captivity, and its damaging eternal consequences.
In addition, after Jesus ascended into heaven to take up his Kingship at the right hand of God, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the our “Counselor.” As such, he advocates for us now in heaven (I John 2:1-2). The Spirit helps us in our weakness and in our prayer life by interceding for us with “sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26-27).
As we celebrate Jesus' coming as the Wonderful Counselor and King, let us be mindful of all of the ways in which he has brought freedom, healing, and hope into our lives.