Last week we began our Advent reflections with the first of Isaiah's titles: Wonderful Counselor. This week, let us turn our attention the second: Mighty God.
Unto us a child is born ... and his name shall be called ... mighty God. During Advent we remember waiting for the coming of the Messiah, and specifically about his coming as a child. What does it mean to call this child mighty God? What a mystery! Let's unpack this mystery a bit by means of a series of statements that progressively build on each other.
God became a child.
During Christmas we speak of God becoming human. We call this the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh. But this becoming is not only linked to Jesus' public ministry. It refers to his whole life. And a life has a beginning, a starting point. From the beginning of his life, this man is God. And so we say with boldness and wonder that God became a child. This is the central mystery of the Christian faith. If we want to know and love God, we must know and love him through an encounter with this child, whose name shall be called Mighty God.
The Mighty God became a child.
We not only speak of God becoming a child, but also of the mighty God becoming a child. We are talking about the very God who created the heavens and the earth. The God who providentially governs all things. The God led the people Israel out of Egypt. This is the mighty God. This mighty God does not remain only at a distance, perhaps leaving the world to its devices. He comes to us, experiences our world and engages us where we are. This thought is perhaps worrisome, because the mighty God is getting in our face. He is getting in our business. He won't leaving us alone. We must not forget the seriousness with which we must take the coming of the mighty God in the flesh. But we can also thankfully say that it is unto us a child is born. The mighty God is for us. It is good news that the mighty God has come near, for it means he will no leave us to our own devices. The mighty God who comes will use his might for our good. So, although we may shake in awe, we need not fear the birth of this child, whose name shall be called Mighty God.
The Mighty God became a weak child.
But perhaps the most amazing thing about the mighty God becoming a child is that this child is and remains a weak child. The mightiness of God does not overwhelm the weakness of this child. We may sing "no crying he makes," but we have no basis to think that this child was except from the weakness of human nature. In fact, we have every reason to think that he experienced the depths of human frailty and sorrow from the beginning. The passion of the Christ commences at Christmas. He emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and humbled himself. And yet saying that this child is weak is not a denial of God mightiness. Rather, in his weakness his strength shown. God is so mighty that he can become weak without ceasing to be mighty. In it through this weakness that God's mightiest acts take place. He who was mighty in himself became weak so that we who are weak may be made strong. This display of divine might in human weakness comforts us in our weakness. It also critiques us in our use and abuse of might. And it calls us to see his might in weakness.
During Advent we re-await the coming Messiah. In Christ, God became a child. In Christ, the mighty God became a child. In Christ, the mighty God became a weak child. Unto us the Christ-child is born, and he shalled be called "Mighty God."