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…
How complex is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the prophet calls Him a "Child," and a "Counsellor," a "Son," and the "everlasting Father." This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel. How forcibly this should remind us of the necessity of carefully studying and rightly understanding the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! We must not suppose that we shall understand Him at a glance. A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Saviour. The light of the text divides itself into three rays — Jesus is "everlasting"; He is a "Father"; He is the "everlasting Father."
I. Jesus Christ is EVERLASTING. Of Him we may sing, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." A theme for great rejoicing on our part.
1. Jesus always was.
2. So also He is for evermore the same. Jesus is not dead; He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
3. Jesus, our Lord, ever shall be. The connection of the word "Father" with the word "everlasting" allows us very fairly to remark that our Lord is as everlasting as the Father, since He Himself is called "the everlasting Father"; for whatever antiquity paternity may imply is here ascribed to Christ. It is the manner of the Easterns to call a man the father of a quality for which he is remarkable. To this day, among the Arabs, a wise man is called "the father of wisdom"; a very foolish man "the father of folly." The predominant quality in the man is ascribed to him as though it were his child, and he the father of it. Now, the Messiah is here called in the Hebrew "the Father of eternity," by which is meant that He is preeminently the possessor of eternity as an attribute.
II. We come to the difficult part of the subject, namely, Christ being called FATHER. In what sense is Jesus a Father? Answer
1. He is federally a Father, representing those who are in Him, as the head of a tribe represents his descendants. The grand question for us is this, Are we still under the old covenant of works? If so, we have Adam to our father, and under that Adam we died. But are we under the covenant of grace? If so, we have Christ to our Father, and in Christ shall we be made alive. In this sense, then, Christ is called Father; and inasmuch as the covenant of grace is older than the covenant of works, Christ is, while Adam is not, "the everlasting Father"; and inasmuch as the covenant of works as far as we are concerned passes away, being fulfilled in Him, and the covenant of grace never passes but abideth forever, Christ, as the Head of the new covenant, the federal representative of the great economy of grace, is "the everlasting Father."
2. Christ is a Father in the sense of a Founder. The Hebrews are in the habit of calling a man a father of a thing which he invents. For instance, in the fourth chapter of Genesis Jubal is called the father of such as handle the harp and organ; Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents, and have cattle; not that these were literally the fathers of such persons, but the inventors of their occupations. The Lord Jesus Christ is, in this sense, the Father of a wonderful system — a great doctrinal system; a great practical system; a system of salvation.
3. Now there is a third meaning. The prophet may not so have understood it, but we so receive it, that Jesus is a Father in the great sense of a Lifegiver. That is the main sense of "father" to the common mind. Everything in us calls Christ "Father." He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. If we love Him, it is because He first loved us. If we patiently endure, it is by considering "Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself." He it is who waters and sustains all our graces. We may say of Him, "All my fresh springs are in Thee." The Spirit brings us the water from this well of Bethlehem, but Jesus is the well itself.
4. The term implies that Jesus Christ is to be in the future, the patriarch of an age. So Pope in his famous poem of the Messiah understands it, and calls Him, "the promised. Father of the future age"
5. Christ may be called a Father in the loving and tender sense of a father's office. God is called the Father of the fatherless, and Job says of himself, that he became a father to the poor. Now, albeit that the Spirit of adoption teaches us to call God our Father, yet it is not straining truth to say that our Lord Jesus Christ exercises to all His people a Father's part. According to the old Jewish custom the elder brother was the father of the family in the absence of the father; the firstborn took precedence of all, and took upon him the father's position; so the Lord Jesus, the firstborn among many brethren, exercises to us a father's office. Is it not so? Has He not succoured us in all time of our need as a father succours his child? Has He not supplied us with more than heavenly bread as a father gives bread unto his children? Does He not daily protect us, nay, did He not yield up His life that we His little ones might be preserved? Is He not the head in the household to us on earth, abiding with us, and has He not said, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come unto you"? As if His coming was the coming of a Father. If He be a Father, will we not give Him honour? If He be the head of the household, will we not give Him obedience?
III. We weigh the words, "EVERLASTING FATHER." Christ is called "the everlasting Father" because He does not Himself, as a Father, die or vacate His once. He is still the federal Head and Father of His people; still the Founder of Gospel truth and of the Christian system; not allowing popes to be His vicars and to take His place. He is still the true Life giver, from whose wounds and by whose death we are quickened; He reigns even now as the patriarchal King; He is still the loving family Head; and so, in every sense, He lives as a Father. But here is a sweet thought. He neither Himself dies, nor becomes childless. He does not lose His children. He is the Author of an eternal system.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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.