I have been privileged to witness several Christmas seasons over my lifetime. And for each one, Isaiah’s prophecy casts a golden glow across the landscape. We rejoice over the birth of a Saviour, and we celebrate the joy and hope it evokes. Carols, hymns, and gifts remind us of the goodness of God in a world often fraught with pain and sadness. This is even more significant in light of the global crisis of the past two years. Christmas spells hope. This hope that is a realisation of an ancient biblical promise. The prophet’s words in Isaiah 9:6 capture this hope: “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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Christmas spells hope. This hope that is a realisation of an ancient biblical promise.
The context of the passage indicates the immediate need for hope. The land of Judah was troubled. The kingdom of Israel had made an alliance with Syria (Isaiah 7:1-2). Destruction loomed. In fear, King Ahaz of Judah aligned himself with the mighty Assyrian empire, disregarding God’s warnings about making alliances with gentile nations (Exodus 23:32-33). In return, God threatens to confound their alliance and dash their misplaced hope (Isaiah 8:6-8). But then God announced a truer and sure basis of hope: the birth of a child, a king, a liberator, one whose rule would involve upholding justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7).
Below I will consider the title “Everlasting Father,” and what it tells us about this baby King whose birth we celebrate each Christmas.
As God’s Son and King, Jesus is Eternal
When we look into the Bible, we find that though this baby was born in history, he existed before it. John 1:1 opens with the classic statement of Christ’s preexistence. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Speaking to the Pharisees during his ministry, Jesus asserts: “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58).
Even though our Saviour has such absolute authority over the universe, he invites us to partake of this glory.
Christ existed before the universe was formed. We realise that he is glorious, a glory he reflects as the only begotten of God the Father. While on the mountain, his disciples also witnessed a display of his majesty (Matthew 17:1-8). And we can delight that even though our Saviour has such absolute authority over the universe, he invites us to partake of this glory (John 17:22; Romans 8:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Peter 1:4).
We do not have a Saviour who is new to our world’s situation. He understands the grand plan for our universe. For through him the world was created (John 1:10). He is the eternal Word by whom all things came into being. And that same Word has stepped into the universe both to save and to rule.
As a Father, Jesus is Caring
The image of father abounds in the Bible. While it tells us about the authority and strength that fathers possess and are expected to demonstrate (Proverbs 1:8; Ephesians 6:4), a central attribute they reveal is the care and nurture of a father (2 Samuel 7:14-15; Psalm 103:13; Luke 15:20; 2 Corinthians 6:18). Jesus was born to be such a father. Fathers don’t only bear children, they must raise them. They don’t only provide for the home, they support their children’s growth. Fathers not only instruct, they love. In a word, fathers provide loving leadership.
The Everlasting Father invites us to bring our burdens to him.
Like a father, he warned his disciples not to keep the little children from him (Matthew 19:13-15). He loved the poor and the sick enough to help them (Matthew 9:35; Luke 8:40-48; John 5:1-15). While on a journey, he stopped to meet a despised Samaritan lady and point her to salvation (John 4:1-26). Even when he hung on the cross, gasping for breath and shorn of strength, he loved his household by committing his mother into John’s care (John 19:25-27). His entire life and sacrifice on the cross was born of love—love for a world that deserved judgment (John 3:16).
So what do you worry about? What burden are you bearing? The Everlasting Father invites us to bring them to him. He is that caring.
As Jesus the Man, God is with Us
While Isaiah was announcing God’s destruction of Israel’s feared enemies (Isaiah 7:10-17), he gave Ahaz a sign. That sign was a name we especially celebrate at Christmas: “Immanuel.” The name announced to Isaiah’s world that God was present among his people. Present to judge the kingdoms of Syria and Israel (Isaiah 8:4), but also to defend his people (Isaiah 8:10). That name assured the world when Jesus was born that God had come and was present among them (Matthew 1:21-23). But does this name matter to us today, 2000 years after Golgotha?
Jesus loved us in his life as well as in his death.
According to Matthew, when Jesus was ascending into heaven, he assured his disciples that he would be with them forever (Mathew 28:20). Elsewhere he promised to dwell always with his people, through the Holy Spirit whom he has given to them (John 14:23). Jesus, the Everlasting Father was born into our world. He loved us in his life as well as in his death. He loved us by rising from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:23-25). But that is not all, for he remains with us still.
At Christmas, We Celebrate Joy and Hope
The love of Christ comforts us, because we know it is not merely in the past. Jesus lives forever! While on the island of Patmos, John saw a vision of Jesus. And he introduced himself thus: “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
The love of Christ comforts us, because we know it is not merely in the past. Jesus lives forever!
The Everlasting Father became both a baby and then king. Now he lives and reigns forever. Those who trust in him have nothing to fear, not even death. For all things have been committed into his hands and we know he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. This is not just the joy of Christmas; it is the hope of the gospel.