What “Mighty God” could not do and cannot do

baby-jesus

In Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah prophesies the coming of the Messiah, declaring, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

To the people of Isaiah’s day, the term “Mighty God” would have spoken volumes, reminding them of the powerful things God had done.  They would reflect upon God as Creator (bringing into being the heavens and the earth) and Deliverer (rescuing them from slavery in Egypt) and Miracle-worker (bringing them water from a rock and manna from heaven as they wandered through the desert) and Sovereign (ruling over nations and over history)!

Surprisingly, though, Isaiah applies the term “Might God” to “a child is born.”  There are few things we encounter in life that are as weak and vulnerable as a newborn baby who cannot stand or crawl or feed himself or sit up or even hold his head up on his own.  Yet Isaiah declares that this weak, vulnerable newborn child is “Mighty God.”

Indeed, the gospels reveal to us that when Jesus grew, He displayed the power of God as Creator (turning water into wine and feeding thousands from just two fish and five small loaves of bread) and Deliverer (rescuing persons from demons and diseases and blindness) and Miracle-worker (healing a paralytic and walking on water) and Sovereign (calming the storm and forgiving sin and overcoming death).

What amazes me is that this Mighty God loves us so much that He would become one of us so fully as to begin life among us as a newborn child lying in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem!

It also strikes me that there is one thing this Mighty God could not do and one more thing He cannot do.

As Jesus hung upon the cross one of the criminals who hung upon a cross near Jesus said to Him, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  But Jesus couldn’t extricate Himself from the cross.  Actually, He could have commanded the nails to fall off, and they would have.  It wasn’t really the nails that held Him to the cross; it was His love for us that held Him there.  The very character of God is forgiving love and self-sacrificing love.  Jesus could not extricate Himself from the cross for this reason: God could not contradict His own character.  The Mighty God was struck down because of the greatness of His love for us.  Yet, because He is Mighty God, even death could not keep Him down.

What Mighty God cannot do is force us to love Him.  Though God has sovereignty over our lives, He made us in His own likeness, with free will to choose for Him or to choose against Him.  In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis remarks, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”  The former will enjoy God’s love forever; the latter will miss out on God’s love forever.  Though God has sovereignty over us, God cannot force us to love Him, because love is contingent on free will.

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