By 1741, George Frideric Handel was a failure. Bankrupted, in great physical pain and the victim of plots to sabotage his career, the once-great opera composer scheduled a “farewell” appearance in London in April. That summer, however, he composed Messiah, which not only brought him back into the spotlight, but is still deemed by some to be “an epitome of Christian faith.”
It was greeted with significant opposition from church leaders who were appalled at the Word of God being spoken in the theatre by common actors and singers.
“What are we coming to, when the will of Satan is imposed upon us in this fashion?” cried one minister. The Bishop of London apparently agreed and prohibited the oratorio from being performed, whilst the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral was outraged and initially refused to allow his musicians to participate.
But the controversy wasn’t strong enough to keep away the king, who stood instantly at the opening notes of the Hallelujah Chorus, and it has become a tradition ever since.
Today, it is still one of the most popular pieces of music performed at Christmas time, (Although it was originally written for Easter).
You don’t have to be a Pentecostal or Charismatic Christian to echo the sounds of the Hallelujah chorus, nor a Theologian to appreciate the words of Isaiah 9:6, as they ring out, “His Name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.”
As our “Wonderful Counsellor”, Jesus has the answer to every question and the solution for every problem. If you are weary, Jesus says, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matt 11:28.
If you require basic needs, Jesus says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness: and all these things will be added unto you” Matt 6:33.
If you are worried and concerned ,Jesus says, “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid” Matt 14:27. When you want to be a witness to the lost, Jesus says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be witnesses of Me” Acts 1:8.
Jesus Christ is the “Wonderful Counsellor”. He has counsel for every crisis; a plan for every problem; a direction for every dilemma; a prescription for every pain; and a message for every man and woman. He is always available and will guide and direct you in the right direction.
The Mighty God
Isaiah foresaw the arrival of the Messiah, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given… and His Name shall be called… Mighty God” Isa. 9:6. All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He was there in the beginning and created it all. Incredible as it may seem, this Child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, is the Mighty God. In the book of the Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Jesus came down from the glories of Heaven. He was born in Bethlehem, hidden in Egypt, raised in Nazareth, baptised in the Jordan, and tempted in the wilderness.
Christ performed miracles on the roadside, healed multitudes without medicine. He conquered everything that came up against Him. Then, Jesus Christ went up to Calvary and died for our sins. He was buried in Joseph’s new tomb and, as prophesied, rose out of the grave with the power of His omnipotence. Jesus Christ stands for freedom and salvation. Today, social scientists are able to put a new suit on man, but only Christ can put a new man in a suit. Jesus precedes all others in their priority, exceeds all others in their superiority, and succeeds all others in their finality. Indeed, Jesus is the Mighty God, the Christ of Christmas!
The Everlasting Father
He is also the, “Everlasting Father”. Jesus said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” And again, “I and My Father are One,” John 14.9 and John 10.30. If you know Jesus, you know the Father. As our Heavenly Father, He is the One who gives us life and we have been given His nature. We have inherited His characteristics and one day, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”.
This is a difficult doctrine to understand , but as C.S. Lewis said “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say.
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else, he would be the devil himself. You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman, or something worse. You can call Him a fool, you can spit at Him, or you can fall at His feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The Prince of Peace
Someone has pointed out that, in the past 4000 years of human history, there has been less that 400 years of peace. Even the most optimistic person is forced to admit that there is something seriously wrong with a world that has such a passion for destruction.
Can you imagine what would happen if a man from Mars was sent to report on earth’s major business? He would, in all fairness, have to say that war is the world’s chief industry. He would report that the nations of the world are vying with each other, in a race to see which can make deadlier weapons and amass bigger armies. He would say that earth’s people are too quarrelsome to get along with each other and too selfish to live peacefully together.
Isn’t it tragic that after thousands of years of life here on earth we are no nearer peace than were the ancient tribes of History? We see strife all around us. In a million different forms, we meet up with rivalry, suspicion and distrust. We see one class oppose another; one race belittle another; the rich oppressing the poor; the poor cursing the rich; nation rising up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Petty jealousy and rivalry infects and mars the harmony of every organisation. Even churches and Christian organisations are disturbed by wrangling and self-seeking. We see it in our family lives, filling homes with anger and bitterness. It sets husbands against wives, fathers against sons, mothers against their daughters. We see it in strikes and industrial disputes, in the acrimonious wranglings of politicians and parliamentarians.
It is in this very world, that we are to stand out as lights in a dark place. It is in this world, that we are called to walk as peacemakers. It is this world that desperately needs the Prince of Peace. He alone is able to provide the peace that passes understanding. He provides the peace of God and peace with God.
2 700 years ago, Isaiah prophesied that a Saviour would come into this broken, bleeding world. He would be a Wonderful Counsellor, mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. That is the message and meaning of Christmas.