Every year on Christmas Eve, we visit a neighborhood that synchronizes its light displays to music and offers yuletide cheer in the form of hot chocolate. From the moment we turn onto the street, to the time we exit, it’s like entering another realm of Christmas wonder. The experience doesn’t capture the biblical picture of ‘all is calm,’ but it certainly has the ‘all is bright’ part down. It’s overstimulating, noisy, and crowded, but we enjoy the spectacle, nonetheless. As we drive through the commentary goes something like this…
“Look at that!”
“That was wonderful!”
Even though we’ve enjoyed this display for several years, there’s still a fresh sense of awe each time we see it. For all the ways we dazzle our senses this time of year, we usually resort to describing things with the same overused and underappreciated words like ‘amazing,’ ‘awesome,’ and ‘wonderful.’
Christmas lights, cozy fireplaces, and happy gatherings are all described as “wonderful,” as well as the Child born unto us. But should we really use the same adjective to describe the Light of the World as we do the cheap LED lights that decorate our front yards? Are they both the same in their wonderfulness?
I think the prophet Isaiah had a different kind of wonderful in mind when he foretold the Messiah’s coming and of his character.
He’s a Wonder of a Counselor
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote these words. He was so certain of their fulfillment, he wrote them in the past tense. It was as good as done before it ever came to be.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Some translations of this verse separate Wonderful and Counselor with a comma, indicating that wonderful and counselor are both nouns, and that wonderful isn’t just an adjective. Literally, it means he’s a “wonder of a counselor.”
The meaning of wonderful is inherent in itself, and means, “full of wonder.” But generally, we use it to mean extraordinarily good or great. But this modern definition falls short of what the ancient Hebrew one intends.
The word used here is ‘pala’ which indicates a phenomenon, or something that lies outside the realm of human explanation. It’s the same word used in Psalm 139:6 when David, in awe of the Lord’s personal knowledge of man said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
Isaiah could only imagine who this wonder of a Child would be, but we know him more fully. All that Jesus said and did makes him worthy of his name, Wonderful.
Adrian Rogers summed it up best when he said,
“Jesus is wonderful. Everything about him is wonderful: His birth is wonderful, his life is wonderful, his works are wonderful, his words are wonderful, his death is wonderful, his resurrection is wonderful; his ascension is wonderful; his intercession for us is wonderful; his coming again is wonderful.”
We may only be able to scratch the surface of his wonderfulness, but that is who he is. He is a wonder, and he is wonder-full.
But that’s not all.
He’s also our Counselor
The best counselors are full of wisdom and offer insight into our lives and problems. So who better to counsel us than the one who knows all things?
At 12 years old, Jesus astounded the Jewish rabbis with his wisdom (Luke 2:46-47). Many years later, when teaching in his hometown synagogue, the religious leaders were amazed (and took offense) at his wisdom and mighty works (Matt 13:54). Paul said that in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).
Do you need some of this wisdom and knowledge applied to your life? Just as Jesus personifies wonder, he also personifies wisdom, and his counsel is available through his Word and through his Spirit.
Do you lay awake at night worrying about the future?
There is a Counselor who tells us to fear not and that he is with us (Isa 41:10).
Are you longing for love or friendship?
There is a Counselor who sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24) and his love is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
Are you weary or grieving a loss?
There is a Counselor who gives hope and turns the ashes of our lives into something beautiful (Isa 61:3). His counsel knows no bounds and is perfect for every situation in life (2 Tim 3:16).
There is no shortage of counselors today. For free, or for a price, many will gladly offer solutions to fix our problems, and fix us. But there is only one Wonder of a Counselor who will listen perfectly, empathize with our weaknesses, direct our steps, graciously reveal sin, and point us in the direction of healing…and that’s the one and only capital “C” Counselor, Jesus.
The Paradox of Christmas
This Advent season there will be many opportunities for you to be wowed and amazed. Hopefully, you’ll see spectacular light displays, and enjoy the warmth of friends and family gathered together. While all these things should be enjoyed, they are but a dim shadow compared to the blazing glory of the Wonder of a Counselor.
The paradox of Christmas is that the dazzling light we crave isn’t found down the neighborhood street, but rather in a lowly manger bed. He’s not only a Wonder of a Counselor, but he’s also the Wonderful Counselor.
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. He’s the most wonder-full gift of all.
Praying you know this Wonderful Counselor,
P.S. Grab this free coloring page to meditate on the Wonderful Counselor.