Unto Us a Messiah is Given
This Good Friday service, which is based on the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9, combines teaching with Scripture and song. It’s a quiet, meditative service meant to provoke deep reflection, so consider lowering the lights in the sanctuary and asking congregants to enter and exit in silence.
The service may be led by a pastor or worship leader, or by a number of individuals reading the part of “Leader.” If you choose to have several people lead this service, consider inviting people of different genders, ages, and ethnicities to participate. The suggested songs can be sung by the entire congregation or by a soloist, choir, or praise team.
At the end of each section, a card bearing one of the four names of Jesus is nailed to a simple, homemade cross.
Leader: In this service we’re going to take a different look at the Jesus of Good Friday. We’re going to look at the Messiah who, eight hundred years before his birth, was given four very interesting names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
But first let’s think about the child—the child that was born and the Son that was given.
esus was an infant, yet the ancient of days. He was God Omnipotent, yet a child. He was a baby, yet the King of Kings. He humbled and emptied himself so we could be exalted and filled with righteousness. He put on our human flesh and freely gave himself to be exactly what was required to save us from our broken and fallen state.
Let’s think about that gift as we listen to the crucifixion story through the lens of those four names Isaiah gave Jesus. Each one points out a different aspect of Jesus’ purpose, and each one makes his sacrifice more astounding, more tragic, and more awesome.
“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (st. 1-2) LUYH 56, PH 2, PsH 329, TH 196, WR 153
“Toda la tierra/All Earth is Waiting” LUYH 57
“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 . . .” (Isa. 9:6)
Leader: Long before Christ was born, Isaiah tells the people of Israel that the Messiah is coming, and he will be a wonderful counselor. A wonderful counselor is someone who can give good advice, who knows more than I do about a lot of different things. It’s someone who wants to see me grow and learn what I need to learn, even when it will be a hard lesson. It’s someone who gives me direction and guidance so my life doesn’t fall apart.
“Wonderful, Merciful Savior” (Dawn Rodgers, Eric Wyse)
“In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness” LUYH 38
“Before the Throne of God Above” LUYH 682
Leader: When Jesus was on earth, he taught. Every chance he could, even at his last meal with his best friends, he was teaching them, comforting them, and praying for them—doing all the things a wonderful counselor would do.
John 14:1-4, 15-18; 15:18-20a
Leader: Jesus’ days on earth were filled with passing on wise and wonderful knowledge. He would sit with the disciples or the people and talk about heaven, sin, forgiveness, suffering, prayer, and love.
John 15:9-15, 17
Leader: The words Jesus spoke were full of wisdom; wisdom that has transcended the centuries and the changing culture. When he was done speaking, people would say things like “Who is this man?” or “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” His wisdom is not only unparalleled, but it is also all-encompassing. Jesus knew from the beginning, when God’s plan of salvation was put in motion, that he would have to die and descend to Hell. He knew, when Adam and Eve sinned, that the souls of his people would have to be bought back from Satan’s grip. And he was willing to pay that price.
Leader: Jesus spoke truth in every phrase, every conversation, every lecture, and every sermon. He reveals the very mind of God. Still today, people are amazed at the wisdom found in Scripture. People study his words, write books about him, and give testimony to the miracles he performs in our lives and in our world. And yet, when Jesus was with us on this earth, we did not believe him. And our Wonderful Counselor was nailed to the cross.
[Nail “Wonderful Counselor” name card to the cross.]
“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 . . .” (Isa. 9:6)
Leader: Isaiah’s second name for Christ is “Mighty God.” Jesus was THE mighty God. Colossians 2:9 tells us: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form . . .” Jesus was a man, yet the one true, mighty, and powerful God. He calmed a storm, fed crowds with a little fish and bread, healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, forgave people’s sins, cast out demons, and raised the dead. But he was here for a much bigger reason: he was here to finish what Satan started in the garden of Eden. He is our Mighty God.
Leader: In this amazing passage, Jesus is asking for God to take the cup of suffering from him. But our God knew, and Jesus did too, that this was the only way to redeem a world that had forgotten its creator, a world that had turned its back on the one true mighty God. In that one moment Jesus proved that he is the mighty King of Kings, for he didn’t turn and run from what needed to be done. He didn’t plead for another plan of action. He knew what had to happen and he faced it despite his human reservations. And Jesus’ mighty acts didn’t stop there. . . .
“Shadows Lengthen into Night” LUYH 158
“Go to Dark Gethsemane” LUYH 161
Leader: Jesus is mighty in every sense of the word. He has unlimited power laced with wisdom and foreknowledge. Through this whole story, Jesus is in control. Of course he is—he was in on the plan from the beginning. And here he casually restores a man’s severed ear, in front of all the soldiers, and they still led him away. Truly, he is in control. Truly, he is mighty.
Mark 14:53, 55-62
Leader: In this passage, Jesus quotes from the book of Daniel: “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word used for “Mighty God” in this passage is El Gibbor, which means “Mighty Warrior God.” This is the same Gibbor that was used to describe King David, who slew tens of thousands, and other mighty men of God who fought and won their final victory. The rulers of the Sanhedrin knew exactly what Jesus was quoting and exactly what he was saying. Jesus was declaring in no uncertain terms that he was the long-awaited Messiah.
Leader: We need to understand that Jesus was here to win a war. He was here to fight against the terrors of evil and destroy the accuser. He was a warrior, not an earthly soldier-type warrior, like the Israelites hoped he would be, but the Mighty Warrior God who would fulfill his promise to crush the serpent’s head, win the ultimate victory, and bring salvation to a dying world. In order to fulfill this purpose, Jesus remained in control as he was brought before Pilate.
Leader: Here Jesus is: standing before Pilate, the Roman governor—a man who represented the most powerful empire of that day. He had the authority to take lives or grant leniency. But Pilate can’t find any viable reason to take Jesus’ life. According to Roman law, Pilate “can find no basis for a charge against him.” But the Jews insist: “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate goes back to Jesus and asks more questions, but Jesus doesn’t answer. Pilate asks him, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” And Jesus’ response? “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”
The Jews want to kill him. The Romans want to free him. But Jesus knows what needs to be done; like a mighty God who is completely in control, he sacrifices himself for his people. That is a Mighty God.
Leader: And then our “Mighty God” was nailed to the cross.
[Nail “Mighty God” name card to the cross.]
“Above All” (Lenny LeBlanc, Paul Baloche)
“What Grace Is This” LUYH 163
“What Wondrous Love Is This” LUYH 164
“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 . . .” (Isa. 9:6)
Leader: The third name Isaiah gives Jesus is “Everlasting Father.” There are many verses in the Bible that talk of this aspect of our Savior and of the Trinity. They all use words like everlasting, forever, eternal. It’s hard for us to truly grasp the scope of words like these. Eternity is a concept that our human minds can’t really describe. What we do know is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are everlasting; they will last forever; they have existed (and will exist) always.
Yet, here is an everlasting God, an eternal king, who chooses to come to earth—to be born as a human, feel like a human, hurt like a human, and die like a human. But we should never forget that he was also eternal. As you hear these words describing the everlasting nature of Jesus, think about what he allowed himself to endure because of our sin.
John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Yet he was spit on and slapped in the face.
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Yet he was blindfolded and punched.
Revelation 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Yet he was forced to wear a crown of thorns.
Revelation 1:17b: “‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’” Yet he was mocked, ridiculed, and beaten.
Revelation 1:8: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Yet they shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (st. 1-4) LUYH 175, PH 100/101, PsH 384, TH 252, WR 261
Mark 15:16-25; John 19:18-24
“Were You There?” (st. 1-2) LUYH 166, PH 102, PsH 377, TH 260, WR 283
Leader: Jesus is sometimes referred to as “the author of eternal life.” To the people that he loves with an everlasting love, he offers an everlasting salvation. Jesus gives us an everlasting portion of mercy and grace. He will never die, and we will never be left fatherless. In his short time on this earth, he created a new world, and a new law. Nothing was the same after his brief stay. Everything changed, whether people wanted to see it or not. And then our “Everlasting Father” was nailed to the cross.
[Nail “Everlasting Father” name card to the cross.]
Prince of Peace
“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.” (Isa. 9:6)
Leader: There are many reasons why Jesus can be considered a prince.
Jesus is a prince by birth. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests”—this is what God proclaimed at Jesus’ birth. God was giving his Son, the embodiment of peace, to his creation.
Jesus is a prince by office: “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins” (Acts 5:31).
He is prince by authority: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).
He is prince by his power: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3).
But he wasn’t just a prince. He was the Prince of Peace.
His message was peace: “He came and preached peace to you who were far away. He also preached peace to those who were near. Through Christ we both come to the Father by the power of one Holy Spirit” (Eph. 2:17-18, NIrV).
He brought peace through his fulfillment of the law: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).
He brought peace by bringing Jew and Gentile together: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
He is the author of peace between God and sinners: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
He came to bring peace to a dying world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16).
And we took this “Prince of Peace” and nailed him to the cross.
[Nail “Prince Of Peace” name card to the cross.]
Leader: He is the Prince of Peace between God and sinners. He is the Prince of Peace to a broken world. His sacred head was wounded to bring us everlasting peace.
“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (st. 1-2) LUYH 168, PH 98, PsH 383, TH 247, WR 284
Matthew 27:45-49; John 19:28-30
Leader: It truly was finished. Jesus had done what he came to do. The ultimate act of peacemaking was done, and people could move back to a right relationship with God. An everlasting peace can now be ours, if we only believe.
And this is no ordinary, worldly peace. This everlasting peace has within it an internal peace that keeps us calm and gives us hope and the ability to feel joy in the darkest of times. The plan that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit put into place at the moment of Adam and Eve’s first disobedience is almost complete. We are assured the victory. The Peace that passes all understanding is freely ours.
The Lord’s Supper
“Behold the Lamb, Communion Hymn” LUYH 840
“Oh, to See the Dawn” LUYH 177
Leader: Jesus is so many things. He is a wonderful counselor. He is wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and love. He is the mighty warrior God. He is the everlasting father of eternity. He was and is and is to come. He is also our Prince of Peace. He created peace, he preached it, he lived it, he brought it, he is the prince of it, and he owns it.
These four names, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, tell us who Jesus is; but they also tell us why Jesus died on the cross. He died because he wants only what is best for us and will help us be the best we can be, even at the cost of his own life. He died because that was the only way to save us, and as our mighty God, he masterminded this plan and then carried it out in a truly selfless manner. He died because he loves us like a perfect, everlasting father that has been and always will be there for us. He died because he needed to bring peace to a grief-stricken, lost, embattled world—a peace that, through his sacrifice, is available to all.
There’s another name we use for Jesus. It’s a name that clearly states the nature of Jesus’ purpose on this earth. He is the Lamb of God. He was led to slaughter for our sins. And in that sacrifice, in his death, he became the life and light of the world. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away our sins.
“Behold the Lamb of God” LUYH 110
Leader: Jesus is our Counselor, our Strength, our Father, and our Peacemaker. We are his reason for Christmas. We are his reason for Good Friday. And we are his reason for Easter morning.
So what will you do with this child that was both born as a human and given as a mighty God? Will you leave him in the manger? Because there’s so much more to the story. . . .
“There Is a Redeemer” LUYH 833, SNC 145, WR 117