Peace: Week Two – Day Two
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 9:7 (NRSV)
Long ago, when kings and queens were being introduced, they would collect a bunch of titles or nicknames for themselves to sound impressive. You might be familiar with names like Catherine the Great or Ivan the Terrible of Russia. But rulers had more interesting names too. Edward I of England was known by the name The Hammer of the Scots, which sounds kind of cool.
Today, these kinds of nicknames are typically reserved for professional athletes like football players or basketball players. The best nicknames are found among pro wrestlers. Think “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or “Macho Man” Randy Savage. These names are supposed to mesmerize fans and intimidate opponents. The nicknames given to our rulers in the past did the same thing. Names like “the Great” or “the Terrible” or “The Hammer of the Scots” were supposed to sound mighty and unapproachable. We are supposed to be captivated and frightened by them.
This verse from Isaiah lists a bunch of nicknames for Jesus, and they seem very different from the nicknames of our worldly rulers and wrestlers. The title “Wonderful Counselor” does not sound scary; it sounds inspiring and personal. What if we were to rewrite Jesus’s name with the phrase ‘Mighty God.’ It might sound something like Jesus Christ the Mighty God. Now that does sound awe-inspiring. Perhaps the most confusing of these titles is ‘Prince of Peace.’ I cannot think of any worldly ruler or even modern athlete who wishes to be called ‘Prince of Peace.’ It tends to be against human instinct to advocate for peace, even when it is the thing we need most.
Jesus comes into this world sporting the title “Prince of Peace.” Jesus turns the earthly model of leadership on its head. He does not rule by force and terror, but through faith and love. He preaches “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and through His death and resurrection He brings peace between humanity and God. Take time today to reflect on the nicknames of Jesus. Which one means the most to you?