And yet I think this phrase “Wonderful Counselor” goes even beyond the idea of finding out the answers to life’s most important questions. It’s possible, you know, to have a great deal of knowledge and yet not know what to do with it. As I grow older I am particularly conscious of this in terms of the ministry. There’s a sense in which, when you are young and you go to school and you learn the things th-at you have to know, you should come to a task equipped to do it. So you begin to take the skills that you’ve acquired and the knowledge that you have and apply them to the task before you. In the beginning you’re perhaps unsure of some things, but as you go on in your work—whether it is in the ministry or another kind of work—you get to the point where you do it well. But there comes a point, at least this is how it went for me—when you begin to say, “What we really need is wisdom.” Oh, we know certain things, we know how to operate in certain ways. But what do you do with what you know? How do you apply it?
Here the Lord Jesus Christ has a special ministry to us. That’s what He gave the disciples in their day. He was teaching them, yes, and they were learning a great deal from Him. But what He was really doing was imparting divine and spiritual wisdom. When He was about to be taken out of the world He told His disciples that He was going, but He was not going to leave them alone. He was going to send another to them. The word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit is parakletos. It’s often translated as “comforter” or “advocate.” The Greek word has the idea of coming alongside of someone, which is what an advocate does. The Paraclete is one who will be with us and in us to teach us, and to take our prayer requests and interpret them properly before the throne of God.
When Jesus came to be a wonderful counselor and then by the resurrection and ascension return to heaven, He did not leave us without wisdom. Rather, He continues to provide the wisdom we need. James talks about it. He says, “Do any of you lack wisdom?” Any of us who have any wisdom at all at that point say, “Indeed we do! We lack it a great deal.” And then he says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who upbraideth not but giveth to all men liberally (or generously), and it will be given him.” And he goes on in that same chapter to say, “Every good gift comes from God.” If you value wisdom, ask God for it, and He will give it to you. It comes through Jesus Christ, our Wonderful Counselor.
The second great gift that is mentioned here, suggested by the name that’s given to Jesus, is power, because Jesus is here called the Mighty God. People are very interested in having power today. It’s not a difficult concept because people are very conscious of it, and whether or not they have it. People high up in business, for example, are regarded as having power because they possess a high position in the organizational chart. Or we think of power in terms of money, with the advantages and freedom that can be achieved if we have enough of it. Or we think of power that exists in politics. If you get into an elected position in government, there is a kind of power that comes with that. We also speak of empowering people, whether that has to do with enabling them in the workplace, or perhaps with helping those who lack adequate representation.
Even at a basic level, we want a sense of power simply in terms of being in control of our lives. The tragedy at this point, you see, is that in an age which perhaps more than any other age has been conscious of power, we are actually very conscious of being powerless, that is, having an inability actually to change events. This can happen with political elections, where many people who are qualified to vote don’t go to the polls because they think their vote won’t make any difference to bring about the change they are looking for. Or they become indifferent because even if they elect someone into office, the voter may feel as if the candidates will get absorbed by the system and, regardless of the campaign promises, can’t always do what they said they would.
But unlike secular power, when God gives us the gift of Jesus Christ, the Mighty God, we truly are given a great gift because the powerful God is on our side. After all, He demonstrated that by His death! Why would He die for us, if He didn’t care for us? Why would He go through all that agony and suffering if He didn’t intend to rescue us from our sin and cause us to be sons of God? Christ’s power displayed is really a marvelous thing!