If you’re reading this, chances are that you saw this in your mail or perhaps on a window outside—regardless, thank you for your curiosity about the artwork for our Christmas sermon series this year! Perhaps you’ve never heard about Jesus, or only have a rough idea of his story, and you’re thinking, “What the heck does all this imagery mean?!”—read on
What is The Story of the Bible?
The Bible is split into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Within these two sections there are a whole lot of smaller books that contain stories, poetry, historical accounts, and much more. If you’re not familiar with what the Bible is about, here’s a quick video you can watch before you read on. The Bible is a complex book with a lot of nuances and information, but the video below will help give you a quick flyover, which is important in understanding what this artwork is all about.
This Jesus Guy
So hopefully you’re still hanging in there, because this is where our current sermon series comes in.
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, there was a prophet named Isaiah, and he gave the Israelites a prophecy (a message from God) about who the Messiah (the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation anointed by God) was going to be. He wrote a whole book of the Old Testament (called Isaiah), but we’re just going to focus on one verse in chapter 9 where he says this:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
— Isaiah 9:6
In the New Testament we find out that Jesus was this promised Messiah who was going to deliver the Israelites (and all of humanity) and bring about peace on earth. But he didn’t do all that in the way everyone was expecting. When Jesus arrived, the Israelites were living under Roman rule. They were expecting their Messiah to ride in on a white horse and conquer their enemies through war, but Jesus didn’t come to violently take back political power. Jesus came to defeat sin and death—everything which stood between us and God. He had a much bigger vision than overturning a mere human empire.
In Isaiah, he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace—but why is he called these things? This is what the Messiah sermon series is all about. We’ll take a look at each of these names in more depth throughout the sermon series and in a few blog posts over the next couple of weeks.
So Get to the Artwork Already
Now that you have a bit of a framework, the artwork will be a lot easier to understand. Basically the concept is this:
Four of the symbols are meant to represent the spiritual and heavenly aspect of each of these names Jesus was given, and the other four symbols are meant to represent some of the ways we saw how Jesus lived out each of these names in the world. This is what the incarnation (God becoming man in the person of Jesus) did. In Jesus, heaven came to earth and the spiritual met the physical world. He was fully man and fully God, knowing our pain and struggles—yet living a perfect life—a life we could never live.
If that last paragraph is confusing for you, here’s another quick helpful video that explains this concept a little more in depth:
Explain the Symbolism Please
Wonderful Counselor: Fire & The Manger with The Tree
In the Bible, fire often represents the Holy Spirit. (In the Christian faith we believe in one God who exists in 3 persons; the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. This is called the Trinity. We can’t break all of that down in this post, but if you’d like to learn more about that feel free to shoot us an email). In Jesus, we have access to the Holy Spirit and one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is that he is our advocate and counselor. The Spirit produces spiritual fruit in the world, so the tree represents growth and new life that came to the world along with Jesus.
Mighty God: The Crown with Trumpets & The Water Turning to Wine
In Scripture we learn that Jesus is God. This means that he possesses all the authority of God—His sovereignty, His righteousness, and His perfection. His power is not limited by anything, he is king over all things and worthy of praise, and this is represented by the crown and the trumpets. In the world, one of the ways we see the might and power of God is through the many miracles Jesus did. The first miracle Jesus ever did in his earthly ministry was at a wedding in Cana. They ran out of wine; and in that day and age running out of wine was an embarrassing social disaster. Jesus turned six jars of water into wine and that is represented here by the water, the wine goblet, and the grapes.
Everlasting Father: The Eternal Loop with a Starry Sky & The Thorns with a Nail
Although Jesus came to us as a baby, Jesus always existed. That may seem like a hard thing to understand, but if you remember that Jesus is one of the three persons of God, it makes sense that Jesus has always been, for God has always been. One of the great comforts of who God is is that he has always existed and he is perfectly good, just, and righteous and he NEVER changes. He has always been and he always will be, he is everlasting. He existed before the world and he will continue to exist forever after. He is the creator of everything we see and there is no exception—every star in the sky is his. So we see this represented by a looping shape that is continuous and never ending and holds the universe within it. So what is one of the ways that we see this in Jesus’ earthly ministry? We are told in the Bible that the death of Jesus was the only sacrifice good enough to pay for the sins of the entire world once and for all, for eternity. The blood of Jesus is what gives us access to eternal life so that one day, when he brings heaven fully to earth and ends all pain and suffering for good, we may live with him in his kingdom forever. His is the only sacrifice that is an everlasting sacrifice—atoning for sins past, present and future.
Prince of Peace: The Dove & The Empty Tomb
One of the biblical symbols of peace is a dove. In the Old Testament we see a dove carrying an olive branch to Noah to let him know that the waters have receded on the earth. Doves were also required by Old Testament law as sacrifices to atone for one’s sin (as a picture of what Jesus would one day do once and for all), and in the New Testament we see the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove after he was baptized. It is a spiritual symbol of peace with God. Ultimately, the thing that brought humanity peace with God was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is represented here by an empty tomb. Our sin separated us from God, but when we accept Christ we are clothed in his righteousness. When God looks at us, he no longer sees our sin, he just sees the perfection of his one and only Son who died and rose again on our behalf. He conquered death, and this is true peace—this is how Jesus brought peace into the world.
This Christmas, come and hear about our incredible God who became one of us to bear our griefs. Who came to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The message of Jesus—the Messiah—is a message of grace and hope that cannot be defeated by any circumstance. Come hear about true hope this Christmas, and Merry Christmas to all!