Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-7
The promise: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Observation: Isaiah serves as a prophet, or God’s “mouthpiece.” In this chapter, Isaiah speaks about a Messiah, who will be a descendent of King David, and will end the punishment of God's chosen people. This Messiah is described as someone who has wisdom and divine power, acts as a caring Father, and brings peace.
Application: When it comes to seating placement in a car, I’m the queen of the middle seat. Since I’m often the smallest member of a carpool party, I just squeeze myself right into the backseat, smack dab in the middle, as everyone else dukes it out for a more preferable seating placement.
Now, lest you think the middle seat is not a big deal, let me just tell you what it’s like to sit in the middle. You are always, always squished. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting next to two small children; somehow, there’s never enough room. You have no armrest unless you try to use your neighbor’s shoulder (which is too high) or leg (which is too awkward). You certainly have no easy way to crack a window and get some air. You are almost always sitting on an uncomfortable crack in the seat. And, worst of all, you’re constantly trying to avoid awkward hand placement with not one but two seatmates AT ALL TIMES.
The struggle is real. And to all of my tall, leggy friends, please stop and say a “thank you” to your gracious Father in heaven who gave you the eternal gift of riding shotgun. Nobody’s making you squeeze your six-foot self into the backseat, and for that, be grateful.
I don’t want to brag, but when it comes to Team Carpool, you want me on your team. When it’s time to decide who’s riding where, I just slide myself into the middle seat, buckle in, and pray that I remembered to put on deodorant that day. I don’t make a fuss or argue or obnoxiously call “shotgun,” relegating my 6’1 friend to the back. I take one for the team. Team Carpool MVP, right here.
Don’t we all love a team player, the one who willingly sacrifices themselves for the benefit of others?
Jesus was the ultimate team player. He sacrificed himself – for you, for me, for all of us – and he did selflessly, willingly, graciously.
To understand the true sacrifice of Jesus, we first have to understand the true extent of our own sin. In his letter to the Romans, Paul recounts how sin began and what happened as a result:
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world.” – Romans 5:12
Sin always separates us from God. The entire Old Testament of the Bible is a story of how sin – people’s selfish desires, motives, and actions – separated them from their God who cared deeply for them. But, that isn’t the only story of the Old Testament. There’s also a story of hope, of a Messiah who will come to save and restore. Here’s how Paul continues:
“For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:15-17
God didn’t leave us in our sin. He could have. He should have. After all, he created us and loved us, and we repaid him by turning away from him. But, he is a merciful God, a gracious God, and he gave us his Son Jesus to wipe away all of our sin.
Isaiah foretells of this Savior, the greatest gift – the sweetest assurance – we will ever receive.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
In Matthew 1, God keeps his promise – The Messiah is born, and he is everything God has promised.
Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus becomes our ultimate assurance.
Through Jesus, we can call God "Father." Through Jesus, we can hold on to the hope that this life isn't all there is. Through Jesus, we receive life.
Prayer: God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus. Your mercy and grace are overwhelming! We praise you for the gift of Jesus’ resurrection, for refusing to leave us in our sin, for making a way for us. Thank you for being our loving and gracious Father. Amen.
Digging Deeper: Take a few minutes to memorize today's focus verse. Write it on a sticky note to put on your car dashboard or mirror, set it as the lock screen on your phone, say it aloud a few times throughout the day -- whatever will help make it stick.