The King's Shoulders
December 20- Isaiah 9:1-7
v.6 “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.”
Eight centuries before the coming of Christ, Isaiah prophesied of a child to be given upon whose shoulders would rest the government. "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end" (9:7).
This ruler would be a gift of contrasts: the accessibility of a child; the authority of an Everlasting Father. The compassion of a Wonderful Counselor; the strength of Mighty God. The power of his Princedom would be exercised for the sake of Peace.
The most important political question is not: "what form of government?" but, "whose government?" This fall at Bethesda, some of us have reflected on the faith of the American founders who established a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." In a world of kings and magistrates, the Americans set out to govern themselves. For this nation we give thanks, even as we acknowledge we do not easily understand what it is like to "have a King." We have a gap to overcome in our experience in order to grasp the Kingship of God.
Fortunately, King Jesus is unlike the kings of this world. We come to understand his reign through our experiences of service, sacrifice, and suffering-love. Martin Luther notes the difference between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world, commenting, "The government of Christ are we, whom He carries on His shoulders. Other kings are carried like rods by their subjects.”
The Christmas story begins with the God-child lifted upon the shoulders of his parents. This story concludes with the God-man lifting the children of humankind upon his shoulders at the cross, and in the resurrection.
God our King, save us in your might, counsel us by your Holy Spirit, and grant to us everlasting peace, through the Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. Amen.