written by Blake Burrough
Please listen before continuing… (okay now go listen to The Cradle version). The year was 1983. The hair was bigger, the sweaters were puffier, and Amy Grant was in her prime, having just released her seventh full-length album, “A Christmas Album”. For some of us it’s hard to do anything but laugh at Emmanuel’s original arrangement and recording. For others it brings forth a set of warm, childhood memories: family road trips, going to see relatives, sharing in the holidays together. I’ll be honest; I fit into the former category. However, even though this tune comes to us a from a time in contemporary Christian music that can feel more nostalgic than sacred, there’s something powerful being sung here, something that is adorning and ascribing profound truths about Jesus.
In singing “wonderful counselor” we are ascribing to God His inherent nearness to us, which is truly the mercy at the crux of Jesus’ incarnation. Our sin had not only restricted our coming near to God, it had in fact fractured and alienated us from our Creator in such a way that even the means of atonement that God Himself had given us (the OT sacrificial system) fell short of building a bridge from us to our Creator. So what does the Father do? He initiates. He draws near to us, even runs us down, in the person of Jesus. Jesus puts on our corruption, our flesh, and our weakness. But, what is profoundly mysterious is that Jesus embodies humanity the way it was intended to be at our creation. Our corruption, He overcomes; our flesh, He walks in fully by the power of the Spirit; our weakness, He covers with His redeeming blood. Above all, however, Jesus, in His incarnation, has repaired the relationship between God and man, while also providing the means of maintaining this relationship for all eternity.
The Lord of life came to bring us life from His human death. The Prince of peace has brought us into peace with God and one another. The Holy One of God condescended to us in His mercy so that He could raise us up to be with Him and the Father. This is what we celebrate and announce at the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus’ birth signifies an end to hostility between all broken relationships for all time; all of them for all time!
“All glory be to God who is on high, and to the earth be peace. Goodwill! Henceforth! From God to man, begin and never cease!