Having a counsellor isn’t uncommon in 2016. Whether it be to manage a mental health condition, deal with loss, navigate relationships or overcome some tangled thought patterns, the time when people assumed therapists made you lie on a sofa Freudian-style are long gone.
The word comes from the idea of being advised and yet what we see here in Isaiah’s description of the Messiah being a wonderful counsellor is far more than a dispenser of useful advice; it’s far more than the amazing skilled and trained work of today’s counsellors. It’s counsel that can be applied as readily to world leaders debating laws, to children searching for a forever family.
Because what Jesus brings however, is not just knowledge, He brings Himself. As John’s gospel reminds us
“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”
The Wonderful Counsellor prophesied by Isaiah moved into a neighbourhood to go through the whole spectrum of human emotion; from the brightest joy to the most desperate hopelessness, to bring man and God together in a way that no-one, not even the most studious of Jewish Rabbi’s – would expect.
Christmas tells us in the most powerful way, that Jesus is the Wonderful Counsellor who not only offers a listening ear, but offers himself so that whatever we face; whether it be the depths of depression or the terror of a refugee fleeing from home. Jesus is the only one who can ever say completely honestly
“I know how you feel”.
It’s the truth of this Wonderful Counsellor who was born as a refugee baby, rejected by society, abandoned by His friends and murdered.
As Timothy Keller writes:
“The incarnation means that for whatever reason God chose to let us fall . . . to suffer, to be subject to sorrows and death—he has nonetheless had the honesty and the courage to take his own medicine.”
When we lose family, friends fail us and mental health services seem unattainable, Jesus was our Wonderful Counsellor yesterday, our Wonderful Counsellor today and our Wonderful Counsellor forever, until the day when He wipes every dry every tear from our eyes.
This Wonderful Counsellor is why whatever circumstance we face; we can know that the Christmas story holds our greatest comfort.