Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
The cooler temperatures marking the change of seasons have arrived. Another rainy cold front will be moving through toward the middle of this week bringing even more wintry signs of the season. And as the days continue to pass, it is apparent that neither rains nor falling temperatures will slow us down—for we’re on the move.
We’re moving quickly now, past Thanksgiving and on into the season referred to in the organized church as Advent, meaning “coming”, or I heard a friend refer to it not too long ago as the season that “reminds us that Christ has already landed and He is on the move.” A reference spoken like a true rebel, a true follower and believer in the One whom Isaiah referred to as Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
While he was going through his list of possible names, I wonder why Isaiah didn’t also refer to Him as “Rebel” in that passage. Maybe when Isaiah wrote those words over seven hundred years before the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, he didn’t know that Christ would be a bit of a rebel. Perhaps he could have used something like “The Raging Rebel” or “The Jolly Rebel.” But, upon honest reflection, that’s exactly what He was, and what He is, and what He will be in all the days ahead—a rebel—and He is on the move. From the quiet birth of a gentle Baby, unnoticed by those scurrying around to obey a census decree, who would have thought He would have grown to be such a rebel?
Certainly you remember what He did while He was here on earth? Who in their right mind would have dared call the religious leaders of the day hypocrites and a brood of vipers, or thrown the money-lenders out of the temple? Who would have been found eating with tax collectors and other such sinners? What self-respecting Jewish man in that day would have met with, and spoken to in broad daylight, a Samaritan woman as Jesus did? Who would make crooked limbs straight and the blind to see, and called others to help others, even at great personal sacrifice? Who would have touched a leper, healed on the Sabbath or brought dead people back to life? We may not like it, but we have to face the fact that the Babe of Bethlehem—Jesus—was a rebel.
I wonder what He thinks of all that is going on in our world, with our misplaced priorities and the contrasts around us between His priorities and those of society, as we move ever so quickly into the Advent season and on into the celebration of His birth. While we ponder that, reflect with me on these words from a song by another rebel, before we journey too much further on toward this Christmas…
“The streets are filled with laughter and light, and the music of the season,
And the merchant’s windows are all bright, with the faces of the children,
And the families hurrying to their homes, as the sky darkens and freezes,
Will be gathering around their hearths and tables,
Giving thanks for God’s graces…and the birth of the rebel Jesus.
They call him by the “Prince of Peace” and they call him by “The Saviour”,
And they pray to Him upon the sea, and in every bold endeavor,
And they fill His churches with their pride and gold,
as their faith in Him increases
But if anyone of us should interfere in the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus.
We guard our world with locks and guns, and we guard our fine possessions,
And once a year when Christmas comes, we give to our relations,
And perhaps we give a little to the poor, if the generosity should seize us…
But pardon me if I have seemed to take the tone of judgment,
For I’ve no wish to come between this day and your enjoyment.
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil,
there’s a need for anything that frees us,
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer, from a heathen and a pagan,
On the side of the rebel Jesus.”
(The Rebel Jesus, Jackson Browne, 1997)
Like the changing temperatures heading our way, the contrasts around us are clear. Between the desperate needs—homelessness, poverty, neglect, loneliness, orphans, addictions, confusion and despair—and the prevailing standards of success established by society which we aspire to—money, power, accolades and awards, nice church buildings and homes, rubbing elbows with the right people in the right groups. In the midst of the contrasts we see all around us, we are again approaching the celebration of the birth of The One whose “name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
All true. And all of those names, and many more beautiful names which we call the Baby, all fit Him, they, too, are all true. But so is “Rebel.” And in these times, and during this journey to the celebration which marks His birth, it may be what we need to be also—with Him and for His children everywhere—rebels.
It seems that our world could use some of those rebels following Jesus right about now. But—even more than that—it could use Him.
Just something for us to think about today and in the days to come as we begin our journey approaching the manger, and the Babe—dare I say Rebel—of Bethlehem.
In His Name—Scott