The Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas Day
Introit for Christmas Day – Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 98:1
December 25, 2014
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given (Is 9:6a). Long years before Mary swaddled her Child and laid Him down to sleep behind a Bethlehem inn, the prophet Isaiah foretold this birth. Unto us a Child is born. Not just to Mary. Not just to Joseph. Not just to the Jewish nation. Unto us a Child is born. Unto the world. He is a true Son of Adam, the true Seed of Eve, the Descendent of the first sinner born to save sinners. Isaiah includes anyone who reads these words in the gift. Unto us a Child is born.
And unto us a Son is given. This Child is a no ordinary Child, but the Son of God, eternally begotten before all worlds. He is the Word who existed from the beginning, who was with God from the beginning, who was God from the beginning. Unto us a Son is given. Not just any Son, but God’s own Son, He who is of the same substance as the Father.
Unto us a Son is given. Not just God’s Son from eternity, but also now in time Mary’s Son. A boy born of a mother’s flesh. Because He is a Son, He is also an heir—not to a family fortune, but to the sin that has coursed through the veins of all sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Being conceived of the Holy Spirit while Mary was yet a virgin, this Son had no sin of His own. But as a Son, the collected sins of His family tree were imputed to Him, they were counted against Him. When He is baptized by His cousin in the Jordan, the sinless Son of God claims these sins as His own, and His Father looks down from Heaven and says, “This is My beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Unto us a Son is given.
And the government shall be upon His shoulder (Is 9:6b). Even while He was still in His mother’s womb, this Child’s life was shaped by the government. A decree from Caesar sent His parents to Bethlehem to be registered in a census. If it was not for the government upon His shoulder, He would have been born in a bed in Nazareth rather than a manger in Bethlehem. And the government shall be upon His shoulder. A few months after His birth, a king pursues Him to destroy Him before He can take His throne. He and His holy family flee to Egypt because of the governing king. Yet the government must be upon His shoulder so that the prophecies would be fulfilled. You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too small to be one of Judah’s clans, from you there will come out for Me, One Who is to rule Israel,
Who comes from eternity. So He will give Israel up until the time when a mother will have her Child. Then the rest of Israel’s relatives will return to her (Mic 5:2-3 AAT). And, Out of Egypt I have called My Son (Mt 2:15).
And the government shall be upon His shoulder. Years later when this Child had grown to be a Man, the government came down upon His shoulders. A new king sat on the throne in Israel, a new Caesar had appointed a new governor. And the Child born to us stood before the government. Though He was guilty of no crime, He bore the government upon His shoulder when they laid whips and rods to His back. Though He was guilty of no sin, He bore the government upon His shoulder as He carried His own cross to the place were Caesar would put Him to death. And the government shall be upon His shoulder. Christ bore the government, that is, He bore the Law and the punishment for the guilt of His family.
And His name shall be called Wonderful (Is 9:6c). The kingdom of Christ is beyond grasp, reason, and experience. Here the flesh must be put to death with all its wisdom and judgment, and it must be grasped only by faith. We must believe that Christ’s righteousness is ours (Luther, AE 16.100).
And His name shall be called…Counselor. Lest we come short in the matter of faith He gives us counsel, that is, the Word, so that we may abide in so wonderful a government of His kingdom. This is truly not a simple word, but it is a word that is able to save in dangers (Luther, AE 16.101).
And His name shall be called…the Mighty God. He gives the strength to triumph through the Word and the Holy Spirit. It also signifies the strength and substance by which we support ourselves. [His might], however, is an active and working force whereby we withstand the enemies and proceed against them and put them to flight through the Word. So Christ both preserves His own and overthrows the enemies, even though the opposite may seem to be the case (Luther, AE 16.101).
And His name shall be called…the Everlasting Father. This, then, indicates the work and business of this King, not His Person. This name fits no one else. He always increases His reign, He always begets children and rules over them, He always remains the Father, He does not assume the role of tyrant, His children are always His beloved. This is beyond question the most delightful kingdom (Luther, AE 16.101).
And His name shall be called…the Prince of Peace. In the kingdom of Christ there is grace, comfort, forgiveness of sins, joy, peace. He does not deal with the transgressor in sternness, but as a father. The forgiveness of sins is justification, and peace follows justification. This peace is not only peace of mind but also plenty and soundness of mind and good health of the body. Such is the reign of Christ: It is extended by killing; it is fertilized by the blood of the believers; and the more distress there is, the more peace grows in the heart (Luther, AE 16.101).
And His name is called…Jesus. Savior. The name of God stamped on human flesh. All of the names of Jesus are wrapped up in this declaration: He will save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). This forgiveness is a wonder to behold, something that can only be grasped by faith. This forgiveness is spoken to us as counsel against sin and sorrow. This forgiveness is accomplished by His mighty act, even though it looks like defeat in His death. This forgiveness is everlasting, for Jesus did not remain dead, but rose again. This forgiveness is a gift as a father gives to his children—a gift given purely for the love that He has for you. This forgiveness begins a new kingdom over which this Prince reigns—a kingdom of peace.
Oh, sing unto the Lord a new song, for He hath done marvelous things (Ps 98:1). Today begins a new song of a new government, a new kingdom. His government will grow, and there will be endless peace, to establish His rule on David’s throne and to uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of armies will do this (Is 9:7 AAT).
His government is a government of peace. His kingdom is a kingdom of grace. This Child who is born unto us has borne the burden of the old government—the government of Law and punishment. And He bears us along with Him. He bears us with Him into His new kingdom. Today a new song is written—a song of Good News, glad tidings and great joy. Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.
The Child Born to Us Begins a New Song of Peace
In + Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard