Monday, December 4, 2023

Wonderful Counselor, Guided by the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a counselor. With the Holy Spirit and Jesus (The Wonderful Counselor) as two parts of the Trinity, it is no wonder they have a close working relationship. Yet, prior to the Pentecost narrative in Acts 2—where the believers in Jerusalem are given the Holy Spirit—we tend to overlook references to the Spirit’s work. As we explore the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, it is fascinating to see references to the Spirit’s presence, again and again:

Isaiah 11:1-2:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 42:1-4:
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

Isaiah 61: 1-4
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
    because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

These passages are full of images of the Messiah as a compassion, wise, and just guide. A Wonderful Counselor indeed!

The great mystery of the Incarnation is that Jesus is both fully human and fully God. We see throughout the Gospel accounts that Jesus needed to set aside private time to pray and be refreshed by the fullness of the Trinity. When Jesus was born as a baby, he took on all the characteristics of human form and mind. Every ounce of Jesus’s Wonderful Counselor-ness while He was here on Earth came from his intimate communion with the Holy Spirit.

Over the summer I was listening to the She Reads Truth podcast during their Genealogy of Jesus series. I knew there would be some rich nuggets of truth for the Advent season, and I was not disappointed.

The podcast hosts reflect on the genealogy of Jesus, looking closely at the character of Mary:
“As we zoom in on these people and the lineage of Jesus . . . God is very overtly working. The Holy Spirit is working. He has been a part of this whole story. . . The Spirit isn’t just present when he’s named. He’s the spirit of God, He is present. The Spirit comes in power on specific people, in specific places, but He is always working. Miraculous things that overturn the laws of nature occur, and yet they still operate within the ordinary. The conception [of Jesus] is one of the most astounding miracles in all of history. And also, Jesus grows in Mary’s body. The incarnation happens in this very tender way, in the intimate womb of a woman. Supernatural and very human. As human as it gets.”
As Jesus grew in knowledge and stature, He was guided not only by the practical direction of His earthly parents, but by the God who set the stars and planets on their courses and governs the movement of ocean tides and river currents. For all the mystery of the Incarnation, one thing is clear:

We needed a guide. A perfect counselor with divine power and intimate human understanding to show us the way.


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