For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful…
I. THE HOPE OF THE CHOSEN PEOPLE CONCERNING THEMSELVES AND THEIR RACE CENTERED IN A CHILD. As a general fact, how many of the world's hopes and expectations have in all ages focussed in cradles. The children represent the hope of all generations.
II. Now the paradox of Jewish faith consisted in this — THAT IT FOCUSSED AT ONCE IN A CRADLE AND A THRONE; a Child and a King. Hence the birth in which that ancient hope found fulfilment was the birth of a King. The question of the wise men was grandly expressive. It centred alike in a Child and a King. "Where is He that is born King?"
1. At the very centre of the Jewish religion was the belief in kingship — a Divine kingdom or a theocracy. This great spiritual fact was symbolised by "the outward visible sign" of human kingship. But all human symbols are imperfect. Their kings died like other men. But their true King did not die. They sought to make the outward symbol of government as complete as possible; hence they adopted hereditary kingship. The human, and. in this case, the Jewish heart is impatient of an interregnum. There is a feeling in man that the throne should at no period be empty. This feeling ever tends toward hereditary rule. The prophet points to a King to the increase of "whose government and peace there shall be no end." It is a kingdom which knows of no interregnum. In contrast to all other kings and royal personages, who soon die and pass away, He ever lives.
2. It is such a king that the Jewish people yearned and looked for. Hence, when the wise men came with the question, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" it not only moved Herod, but all Jerusalem with him. The Jews looked eagerly for a king who should bear upon his shoulder the burden of perpetual government. This yearning for a king is one of the deepest in the heart of nations.
3. Alas! that when He came men did not recognise Him in the humble garb He wore. They placed a Cross upon the shoulder that was to bear the ensign of rule, and a crown of thorns upon His royal brow. Yet, all was well, for what could be a better ensign of His kingship than the Cross, since His is "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," and He is a "Prince and a Saviour."
4. His sacred brow, too, bore the only crown which man could place there and He accept — a crown of thorns, symbol alike of our sin and misery and of His royalty who has overcome us by the might of His compassion, and become our King by the shedding of His blood. What becomes the brow of the Man of Sorrows and King of sorrowing humanity like crown of thorns? Our Lord exclaimed some time before His hour had come, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again." He based His Kingly claim upon that two-fold power. It is from His Cross that He sways His sceptre over us.
5. The cradle predicts the Cross. Once God has condescended to touch the manger and the crib, we are prepared to see Him even touch the Cross and bearing it. There is no depth of condescension which He will not fathom, no height of self-sacrifice which He will not reach. The story of Divine love is harmonious throughout. We are not surprised that the great God who submitted himself to the humblest conditions of human birth should also, in the same spirit, endure the Cross, despising the shame.
6. This cradle, too, is prophetic of the Gospel, in which so much that is weak and human is linked to so much that is strong and Divine, namely, man's voice uttering God's message, earthly forms and ordinances conveying heavenly energies, human swaddling clothes enveloping a Divine life.
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.