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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
Christmas is a great time to explore all the ways the gift of Jesus meets our needs, including ways we don’t often consider. Even as I was studying to become a counselor, I found it odd to think of Jesus as our “Wonderful Counselor.” For some reason, I never really thought of him that way. But the more I dug into Scripture, the more examples appeared of him applying truth to life. Jesus counsels the woman at the well, Nicodemus, the disciples, the scribes, the Pharisees, and more. So what makes him a “wonderful” counselor?
The answer can be summed up in this phrase: he spoke the truth in love. We’ve all felt the crushing disappointment of bad advice, the fruit of foolishness and falsehood. Jesus never lied, bent the truth, or relied on platitudes of worldly wisdom. He spoke the truth throughout his life and was proven true through his death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3–7). But moreover, he also pointed people to the truth of Scripture. His prayer for his disciples was that the Father would “sanctify them in your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Even when facing temptation directly from the devil under the harshest conditions, he applied Scripture alone to Satan’s schemes.
Jesus was not cold or indifferent, but longed for the healing of the despised and rejected.
He spoke truth in love. His heart for his audience is often on display. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29). The heart of Jesus was not cold or indifferent, but longed for the healing of the despised and rejected. As Jesus looked out across Jerusalem, he mourned their stubbornness and poured out his heart for the rebels who lived there (Luke 13:34–35). Though he knows our darkest moments, he reaches out to bind our wounds and wash away our sin and shame. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3).
If we’re honest, this is the counselor we want. One who passionately desires our good. One who doesn’t feed us false hope. One who walks with us through the valley and the shadow. One who brings real change. And though that process isn’t always easy, Christ alone has the power to carry us through the storm to find true rest at his side.
As Christians, we are merely imitators, signposts to the true source of help, participating imperfectly in a greater work. Dear friends, you and I can lead others to the Shepherd of our souls, knowing that whatever he starts, he will finish. As these truths sink in, let us thank God this Christmas for the tender, truthful, and unexpected gift of Christ, the Wonderful Counselor.
Oh Wonderful Counselor, we hear your wisdom through creation and through the Word.
Alpha and Omega: qualified to be our teacher because we were created by your hands.
Fully man: understanding our human strife.
Fully God: all-knowing, wisdom, and truth itself.
Oh Wonderful Counselor, how foolish we’ve been to run elsewhere for wisdom.
This age is full of self-help fads, personality quizzes, and social media thought-leaders.
Forgive us for ever expecting these to help us more than our Father.
Oh Wonderful Counselor, how your presence soothes us as you hear our heart’s cry; our Great High Priest who
sympathizes with us. As foretold, our deliverer came to us anointed in infinite wisdom; the highest and most perfect
Oh Wonderful Counselor, soften our hearts to embrace holy counsel. Train our hearts to crave your words, seeking them out daily, so that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we’ll know to whom it belongs.