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The Tenth Day of Advent – December 12

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Something for you to do this Christmas: watch how people are drawn to a nativity scene. It might be a Christmas creche on a tabletop, in a church sanctuary, or place of business, but notice how people like to stop and look at the little baby Jesus in a manger. Young and old, believer and non- believer, hearts seem to warm at the sight. The ancient hymn “Magnum Mysterium” expresses the awe of people and angels “that animals should see the newborn Lord lying in a manger!”

It is a great mystery that draws us, that a “child born for us” is named “Mighty God.” “Cribb’d, cabined, and confined within the contours of a human infant. The infinite defined by the finite.” (Madeleine L’engle, The Irrational Season) O great mystery that this child born for us is “Mighty God”, El Gibbor, combining the title for God (El) with the adjective Gibbor meaning “strong” and “mighty”. That His name begins with El tells us that He is the divine virgin-born Son, promised as Immanu-El, “God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14). All the while this little baby cradled in straw is Gibbor, the “Mighty” presence of God in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). This child born for you and me “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). He is the perfect revelation of what God is like, “the exact imprint of God’s very being” (Hebrews 1:3). He is truly El Gibbor!

Yet, how can this tiny, helpless baby be “Mighty God” except that He is mighty in power to love and pour out His life for others. More than the wonders of creation this little baby reveals what God is like. He bends low to reveal Himself as “Mighty”, not as Pharaoh and Caesar are mighty, but mighty to overcome enemies through His love. Our Mighty God’s “power is so great that it can absorb all the evil which can be hurled at it until none is left to hurl.” (John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-30) On the cross we see the revelation of “the power of God” to save even the worst of us and to make enemies His dearly loved children (1 Corinthians 1:18). Jesus saw His sacrificial death as the crowning revelation of God’s glory (John 12:23-24).

As we think upon Jesus as “Mighty God” it is important to remember that most people have experienced power as power OVER them, through coercion and control. But Jesus, as “Mighty God” wields His power FOR people, to seek and to save. “Mighty God” comes not to “lord it over” but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

In a Nazi prison, awaiting his execution, Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced the mighty power of Jesus’ self-less love:

“God lets himself be pushed out of the world onto the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us…Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison)

From infinite love “Mighty God” stoops to share our darkness and death so that we might forever share His life and glory. Oh, great mystery, that the light has shined in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).


Mighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we entrust to Your loving care those who risk their lives for others: soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, and first responders. We also commit to Your protection the poor, the homeless, the dying, the despondent, and those who for whom each day is a burden. Shine through darkness and wake us to our calling to serve You by serving others. We pray to be part of what You are doing in the world. Amen.

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