High school in America is surprisingly like the TV show Glee or the film Pitch Perfect. Schools are lively and big, and so is the music scene. With a student body of over 4,000 at mine, it was easy to find singers to form a 200-strong combined choir, plus an orchestra, to perform Handel’s Messiah one Christmas. I am sure many of us could drag bits from this glorious oratorio out of the cobwebs of past experience and into tune (sort of)!
‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given …’ follows a passage of prophecy given to Isaiah describing how the relentless struggles and waywardness of Israel would come to an end with the birth of the expected Messiah. He would come not through power proven in battle or by political pedigree, but as a helpless baby born to a virgin of no social rank.
‘… And the government shall be upon his shoulders.’ The imagery of carrying a weighty burden was often used to describe the responsibility of rulers. The unsung baby would have power over all nations, armies and monarchs through the spiritual authority given him by God in Heaven. This speaks to me too of the ‘light and easy yoke’ we bear when we surrender to Christ, as he has taken the burden and carried it to the cross for us.
‘And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ In Old Testament times, neighbouring rulers were partial to giving themselves extended self-adulating names to establish themselves as unrivalled and immortal warriors. The words given to Isaiah to describe Jesus are of a different nature; they are majestic and tell of the unchanging nature of one who is both perfect King and Father, just and kind; and one who will rule for eternity.
What a powerful passage! What amazing cause for joy we have knowing that our God is in fact King! He is Lord over topsy-turvy world politics, over senseless wars, and over Satan’s strategies to keep his beloved children who don’t yet know him from joining Jesus in his eternity-long celebration in Heaven!
For reflection and praise you might like to read Isaiah 9 verses 1-7 and choose one of these videos to sing along to!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-61gjgy9GiE – video with lyrics to original score
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYQLaeL9eDY – VeggieTales version for kids