Summary: The unusual titles of Jesus show us that we can count on him to live up to expectations.

Sermons for Christmas December 7, 1997


Every once in a while in the world of Chicago area high school boy’s basketball, a player will emerge with incredible talent and skill. He and his team become the focus of a great deal of media attention. He will become one of the most talked about high school athletes in the country. Recruiters from big-time colleges from coast to coast will attend games just to watch him play. They dream of his potential as a collegiate player, and how he could lead their school to the national championship. Recruiters have a term for high school players with this kind of potential – “CAN’T MISS.” Anyone who lands this prospect “can’t miss” having a superstar on their team.

But not every player who’s labeled as “can’t miss” seems to be able to steer clear from missing. Such is the case of a young man named Ronnie Fields. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Ronnie Fields played for Farragut Academy in Chicago. He and his “can’t miss” prospect teammate, Kevin Garnett, took Farragut to the High School state tournament in 1995. Garnett, a high school senior, turned pro and went to the NBA that year right out of high school. Fields had one more year left. And in his senior year, this 6’3” guard averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball for 1996.

Some predicted him to be the next Michael Jordan; because of the way he could seemingly defy gravity and float through the air effortlessly. I saw Ronnie Fields play in ’95, and I remember thinking at the time that I had never in my life seen anyone who could jump so high. He accepted a scholarship from DePaul University, and seemed to be heading for stardom.

But then life fell apart. In February of that same year, a serious car accident left him with a fractured vertebrae in his neck. In July, DePaul withdrew its scholarship offer when Fields failed to qualify academically, in September, Fields pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual abuse and was sentenced to 2 years probation and counseling. Then in December of ’96 Fields became a benchwarmer for the Rockford Lightning, a professional team that’s part of the CBA, a far cry from the National Basketball Association where the real stars play, and that is, where his high school teammate, Kevin Garnett in October of this year signed a $123 million contract, the richest in the history of sports.

Was Ronnie Fields the “can’t miss” prospect that so many felt he was? No. In fact it’s fair to say that his post-high school career has been pretty disappointing. It’s difficult to live up to expectations of absolute greatness. So many things can go wrong along the way.

And yet the predictions about Jesus Christ placed incredibly high expectations upon him, even before he was born. Let’s take a look some of these expectations in Isaiah 9:2-6 (p. 683)


A. In all of Scripture there is no prophecy more thrilling than that found in Isaiah 9:6.

B. In the midst of some awful prophecies about Judah and the fate of Jerusalem, we find this jewel of hope.

God loves his people so much that he will not let them go. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given! His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

THESIS: These unusual titles for Jesus show us that we can count on Him to live up to His expectations.

TRANSITION: Let’s look at each of these titles here to see how we can still count on Jesus today.


A. This is an expectation of wisdom.

1. “Wonderful” refers to the acts of God as being incomprehensible, marvelous or miraculous.

2. “Counselor” carries with it the ideas of one who determines upon a plan of action and carries it out.

a. Jethro counseled Moses on how to delegate responsibility (Exodus 18:19)

b. In 2 Kings 18:20 Hezekiah claimed to have counsel (strategy) and strength for war.

3. Isaiah is saying that Judah’s only hope was this “Wonderful Counselor” whose plans, purposes, designs and decrees for his people would be marvelous.

B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Top Advisor.”

The president of the United States has all kinds of advisors. Within the current Clinton administration there are all kinds of people whose sole job is to counsel and advise the president on his plans of action.

1. We all need a counselor at one time or another. We need the advice of friends or family.

2. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

Illus. When Kim and I were preparing for marriage, we went through what many of you did also. Premarital counseling. We met with Earl Ferguson who took us through a test and a series of questions to evaluate our suitability for marriage. He advised us on strategies that we could learn to implement that would make our marriage solid. He gave us wisdom from his history of a strong marriage and his educational background in counseling.

3. Jesus is has the credentials to be our advisor because he is completely trustworthy and wise.

4. Jesus provides two things that we’d look for in a great counselor:

a. He is understanding. – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)

b. He is someone who really cares. – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7)

So when we face any and every decision, this prophecy tells us that Jesus is there to advise us and give us direction. What should I do with my investment portfolio? When do I retire? Should I spank my child? Which movie will we rent? Should I re-model my kitchen? Jesus is our top advisor. He can see every possible outcome, and knows which choice is best. Every time.

 SELF-EVALUATION: I listen to and follow the counsel and advice of Jesus Christ as I make the daily decisions in the affairs of my life.

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Not at all Sometimes All the Time

TRANSITION: We can count on Jesus to be our “Top Advisor.” The Wonderful Counselor. The second title is “Mighty God.”


A. This is an expectation of power.

1. The word “mighty” was commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of a successful warrior.

2. Calling this child “God” is a prophecy regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ. He will be the all-powerful God himself!

B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Mighty Warrior.”

Many people with a limited exposure to Jesus Christ, view him simply as someone very meek and mild. Someone kind and gentle. Someone who turned the other cheek, and when the soldiers beat him, and made him carry his cross, he did not resist. And all those things are true. But the larger picture of Christ in the Bible is one of “Mighty Warrior.”

A chorus says,

“Mighty Warrior, dressed for battle, holy Lord of all is he.

Commander in Chief bring us to attention. Lead us into battle to crush the enemy.”

The enemy is Satan and the unseen powers of evil that have permeated every level of existence in our world. Christ is the Mighty Warrior who has defeated and conquered these powers through his work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. And even though these powers have been defeated, they still exist to cause us trouble, almost like sore losers in the battle for cosmic control. That’s why Paul can say:

1. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.” (2 Corinthians 10:3)

Our weapons are different, because the battle is spiritual.

2. “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:14)

3. Christ is our victorious king who has already triumphed over the evil powers of this world!

Because of that, we can expect Jesus to continue give us victory over our struggles. As a “Mighty Warrior” he will deliver us safely from the wars we wage against the embarrassing temptations we have a difficult time getting under control. Have any of those? I sure do. He will deliver us from laziness, bad habits, confrontations with family, and confrontations with people with whom we do business. He is the Mighty God!

 SELF-EVALUATION: I let Jesus Christ fight my daily battles, trusting him to bring the victory, instead of waging the war myself.

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Not at all Sometimes All the Time

TRANSITION: We can count on Jesus to be our “Mighty Warrior.” The Mighty God. The third title is:


A. This is an expectation of care.

1. “Everlasting” points to a promise of kingdom that will never end. (Is. 9:7)

2. “Father” is not to be confused with God the Father, but instead refers to the enduring, compassionate, fatherly care of the Messiah to his people.

B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Provider Forever.”

1. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

2. A verse that expresses his parental role: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Mt. 23:37)

3. Jesus provides the care we need and promises to be the protector of our lives.

Some of you know that my brother’s house burned down the week before Kim and I got married. Being home for Thanksgiving, and seeing the house for the first time since the fire made me especially thankful for the care that Christ has given to Mark and his family. When the fire started, Patti was giving the children and bath, during the day. They recognized the smoke and were able to get out of the house safely along with the kid’s clothes for the wedding. My brother didn’t have any clothes to wear to our wedding rehearsal except the ones he had on at the time of the fire. Being a farmer, out running the combine, they weren’t his best. But coming up in borrowed clothes, then changing into the rented tuxedo, came up the day of the wedding and was in the ceremony. They are rebuilding the upstairs of their house, and with major work on the downstairs, they will be able to live there again in the not too distant future. They’ve been very blessed through this whole experience, and I believe their faith has grown quite a bit.

 SELF-EVALUATION: I trust in Jesus alone to both protect and provide for the needs of my family and me.

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Not at all Sometimes All the Time

TRANSITION: We can count on Jesus to be our “Provider Forever,” the Everlasting Father. There’s one last title given in this verse:


A. This is an expectation of wholeness.

1. A “Prince” is a leader, military commander or noble.

2. “Peace” is the world “shalom” which means the absence of strife, completion, fulfillment or wholeness resulting in unimpaired relationships.

B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Life Calmer.”

1. He has brought peace to a once broken relationship with God.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There is a graphic on our church’s website that displays this very effectively. God and man are together in the beginning. Sin enters the world and creates a gap. Christ comes to bridge the gap. To bring us peace with God.

This peace is life’s greatest gift. A completely unimpaired relationship with God. What once was broken by sin, and impossible to restore, has been completed by Jesus Christ – on the cross he cried, “It is finished!” Peace with God!

2. He also provides “peace on earth,” at least that’s what the angels announced to the shepherds on the night Christ was born. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

Peace on earth! Including the space of it that you occupy!

Peace in the midst of the most chaotic times. Kim and I were leaving the Wal-Mart parking lot Friday evening, just before our Supper 8 group was to come over for dinner. I was following a car, driven by someone who wasn’t exactly aware that they needed to speed it up a little bit because I was in a hurry. I’m behind this car yelling, “C’mon, c’mon let’s go! (as this person was in the midst of indecision on which way to turn, then turned to go out of the parking lot the same way we did). Then I said, “Wouldn’t you know it! Now I’ve got to follow them all the way up to the stoplight, and we probably won’t get there while it’s still green!”

At which point Kim, whose blood pressure I was raising rapidly, quoted from my sermon on attitude a few weeks ago and said, “It’s something you can’t control. Focus on the things you can!”

At which point I just burst out laughing, knowing she had me. So I said, “Where have you heard that kind of nonsense!” Jesus comes to give us peace in the midst of the things we cannot control.

SELF-EVALUATION: I have allowed Jesus Christ to calm my life and to restore my broken relationship with God.

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Not at all Sometimes All the Time

TRANSITION: Read Isaiah 9:6. We can count on Jesus to be all of these things.


A. Which self-evaluation produced the lowest number on the scale? Write it below.

I need to expect Jesus to be my _________________________

“Top Advisor” - Wonderful Counselor

“Mighty Warrior” - Mighty God

“Provider Forever” - Everlasting Father

“Life Calmer” - Prince of Peace

B. Jesus truly lives up to the expectations placed upon him. He won’t fold under pressure.