Summary: What does the title "Everlasting Father" tell us about Jesus?

This morning, we continue our Advent sermon series. We’ve been studying the names of Christ found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah was a prophet in Judea, some seven centuries before the birth of Christ. And if you read the book of Isaiah, you will find that God revealed to him, not only these names, but also many other things about the promised Messiah. For instance, in chapter 53, we have the well-known passage foretelling the death of Christ on the cross, the death by which he paid the penalty for our sins:

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." --Isaiah 53:5-7

Did you catch that? "He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. By his wounds we are healed." This is what the Christian faith calls "substitutionary atonement". He was our substitute. He died in our place. His death paid the price for our sin; all of our evil thoughts, and words, and actions. Simply put, God punished him instead of us. And therefore, we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life, through faith in Christ. That’s the promise and hope of the gospel; both for us, who look back to Christ, and also for those of ancient times, who looked forward to Christ, their Messiah.

As we mentioned last week, by the names listed in Isaiah 9:6, the prophet makes it clear that the Messiah would be no ordinary man. Not a mere political or military leader; not the king of an earthly dominion, or a general to lead his people in conquest over the nations of this world. And far more than a common teacher or prophet; there had been dozens of those in Israel’s history. No, the Messiah would be absolutely unique; something never before seen in the history of the world. He would be God in the flesh, God become man. God, with all his power, and might, and wisdom, and glory; yet somehow fully revealed in the person of a male human being. The gospel of Matthew in the New Testament makes this same point in its version of the Christmas story:

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel

--which means, ’God with us.’" -- Matthew 1:23

That’s what Jesus was. "God with us". Not God out there somewhere, beyond the boundaries of the universe, but God here, in our midst. God walking among us as a flesh-and-blood person. And that’s what the title "Everlasting Father" signifies. Let’s look at that verse again:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

By referring to the Messiah as "Everlasting Father," Isaiah alludes to the fact that he would be God. Remember that the people who first received this prophecy, the Jews, had no concept of a Trinity. They didn’t conceive of God as both One and Three at the same time: one divine essence in three

co-equal persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They only knew God as Father. So when Isaiah identified the coming Messiah as the "Everlasting Father," He was communicating in the only way they could possibly have understood that the Messiah would be God in the flesh. God would be their savior. God would be their deliverer. God would be their king.

And when Jesus came; when he grew to manhood and began to teach, he acknowledged that this was in fact who he was. For instance, when he was speaking with the Pharisees, he said:

"I and the Father are one." -- John 10:30

You may remember that this particular statement almost got him stoned to death for blasphemy. And then another time when Jesus was speaking with his disciples, we have this exchange:

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ’Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?" -- John 14:6-10

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Joe Harding, Jr.

commented on Feb 3, 2007

Great handling of the title as well as with the application! Thanks for making it real to real people in a real world! Good work for the Master! Joe

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