“Oh wonder of wonders! Manger of Bethlehem, thou hast miracles poured into thee. This is a sight that surpasses all others. Talk ye of the sun, moon, and stars; consider ye the heavens, the work of God’s fingers, the moon and the stars that he hath ordained; but all the wonders of the universe shrink into nothing, when we come to the mystery of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was a marvellous thing when Joshua bade the sun to stand still, but more marvellous when God seemed to stand still, and no longer to move forward, but rather, like the sun upon the dial of Ahaz, did go back ten degrees, and veil his splendour in a cloud.
There have been sights matchless and wonderful, at which we might look for years, and yet turn away and say, ‘I cannot understand this; here is a deep into which I dare not dive; my thoughts are drowned; this is a steep without a summit; I cannot climb it; it is high, I cannot attain it!’
But all these things are as nothing, compared with the incarnation of the Son of God. I do believe that the very angels have never wondered but once and that has been incessantly ever since they first beheld it. They never cease to tell the astonishing story, and to tell it with increasing astonishment too, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, and became a man.
Is He not rightly called Wonderful? Infinite, and an infant—eternal, and yet born of a woman– Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast– supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms– king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph– heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Wonderful art thou, O Jesus, and that shall be Thy name for ever.
But trace the Saviour’s course, and all the way He is wonderful. Is it not marvellous that He submitted to the taunts and jeers of His enemies– that for a long life He should allow the bulls of Bashan to gird Him round, and the dogs to encompass Him?
Is it not surprising that He should have bridled in His anger, when blasphemy was uttered against His sacred person? Had you or I been possessed of His matchless might, we should have dashed our enemies down the brow of the hill, if they had sought to cast us there; we should never have submitted to shame and spitting; no, we would have looked upon them, and with one fierce look of wrath, have dashed their spirits into eternal torment.
But he hears it all—keeps in his noble spirit—the lion of the tribe of Judah, but bearing still the lamb-like character of ‘The humble man before his foes, a weary man, and full of woes.’
I do believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the king of heaven, and yet He was a poor, despised, persecuted, slandered man; but while I believe it I never can understand it. I bless Him for it; I love Him for it; I desire to praise His name while immortality endures for His infinite condescension in thus suffering for me; but to understand it, I can never pretend. His name must all His life long be called Wonderful.
But see Him die. Come O my brothers, ye children of God, and gather round the cross. See your Master. There He hangs. Can you understand this riddle: God was manifest in the flesh and crucifted of men?
My Master, I cannot understand how thou couldst stoop thine awful head to such a death as this– how thou couldst take from thy brow the coronet of stars which from old eternity had shone resplendent there; but how thou shouldst permit the thorn-crown to gird Thy temples astonishes me far more.
That Thou shouldst cast away the mantle of thy glory, the azure of thine everlasting empire, I cannot comprehend; but how thou shouldst have become veiled in the ignominious purple for a while, and then be bowed to by impious men, who mocked Thee as a pretended king, and how Thou shouldst be stripped naked to Thy shame, without a single covering, this is still more incomprehensible.
Truly thy name is Wonderful. Oh thy love to me is wonderful, passing the love of woman. Was ever grief like thine? Was ever love like Thine, that could open the flood gates of such grief.
Thy grief is like a river; but was there ever spring that poured out such a torrent? Was ever love so mighty as to become the fount from which such an ocean of grief could come rolling down?
Here is matchless love– matchless love to make Him suffer, matchless power to enable Him to endure all the weight of his Father’s wrath.
Here is matchless justice, that He himself should acquiesce in hHs Father’s will, and not allow men to be saved without His own sufferings.
And here is matchless mercy to the chief of sinners, that Christ should suffer even for them. ‘His name shall be called Wonderful.’
But He died. He died! See Salem’s daughters weep around. Joseph of Arimathea takes up the lifeless body after it has been taken down from the cross. They bear it away to the sepulchre. It is put in a garden. Do you call him Wonderful now?
‘Is this the Saviour long foretold to usher in the age of gold?’
And is He dead? Lift His hands! They drop motionless by His side. His foot exhibits still the nail-print; but there is no mark of life.
‘Aha,’ cries the Jew, ‘is this the Messiah? He is dead; he shall see corruption in a little space of time. Oh! watchman, keep good ward lest his disciples steal his body. His body can never come forth, unless they do steal it; for he is dead. Is this the Wonderful the Counsellor?’
But God did not leave His soul in Hades, nor did he suffer His body– ‘his holy one’ –to see corruption? Yes, He is wonderful, even in His death.
That clay-cold corpse is wonderful. Perhaps this is the greatest wonder of all, that He who is “Death of death and hell’s destruction” should for awhile endure the bonds of death.
But here is the wonder. He could not be holden of those bonds. Those chains, which have held ten thousand of the sons and daughters of Adam, and which have never been broken yet by any man of human mould, save by a miracle, were but to Him as, green withes.
Death bound our Samson fast, and said, ‘I have him now; I have taken away the locks of his strength; his glory is departed, and now he is mine.’
But the hands that kept the human race in chains were nothing to the Saviour; the third day He burst them, and He rose again from the dead, from henceforth to die no more.
Oh! thou risen Saviour– Thou who couldst not see corruption– Thou art wonderful in Thy resurrection.
And Thou art, wonderful too in Thine ascension– as I see thee leading captivity captive and receiving gifts for men. ‘His name shall be called Wonderful.’
Pause here one moment, and let us think– Christ is surpassingly wonderful.”
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “His Name—Wonderful!,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 4 (London; Glasgow: Passmore & Alabaster; James Paul; George John Stevenson; George Gallie, 1858), 4: 395–397.