Friday, December 10, 2010

Everlasting Father/Earthly Son?

At the beginning of Advent, when I began my investigations of some of the names used to describe Jesus, I wanted to post some of my thoughts each day.  I knew that with the busyness of this time of year, I probably wouldn't be able to, and I resolved not to obsess about it.  Today, I'll try to do a little catching up.

So far, I've written about Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Friend, Virgin-born, Teacher, Revolutionary, and Comforter.  Next on my list was "Everlasting Father."  This was an especially difficult name to research.  Every commentary on these words was unsatisfactory; each read into "everlasting father" meanings that I rejected.  Jesus was so clear that we should only address God as "father."  Yet here is Isaiah saying that the Messiah would be called "eternal (or "everlasting") father."  This caused me to think about the text from Isaiah.  Do I understand what Isaiah's intentions were in this text?  Have I simply accepted that this text is about Jesus because so many of us associate it with the prophecies of Jesus as Messiah that we recall every Advent?  Do I immediately associate this text with Jesus because the Messiah chorus, "For unto us a child is born," quotes this text, and throughout Advent this chorus is running through my mind?

In the end, I have to say that understanding the name, "everlasting father," is not essential to my faith in God or my feeble attempts to be a follower of Jesus.  I'm able to put the effort to understand its meaning  into one of the file drawers of my mind with the intention of returning to it again to explore what Jewish thinking about the Messiah was and is, to try to understand what Isaiah's intentions were, and to study the gospels to determine if God is leading me to a deeper understanding of the nature of the human Jesus.  I would love to have insights that anyone can share with me in this exploration.  For right, though, I'm moving on!

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