to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder
Luther preached a sermon on Christmas day, 1531, on Isaiah 9:6.
It is a good example of two great aspects of Luther's teaching: the proper application of the pronoun, and the free nature of the gift.
- to us a child is born:
- to us a Son is given:
For whom was he conceived and born? For whom did he suffer and die? For us, for us, for us! Always add us! That is why the fathers rightly put the word [in the creed]: “And in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” We should relate this word to every sentence: conceived for us and born for us, suffered for us and raised for us, ascended for us and sitting at the right [hand of God] for us. For [it is no accident that] the words, “I believe in God, [the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth],” [are followed by,] “And in Jesus [Christ his only Son] our Lord.” In the same way, this word “our Lord” must be included with all [the following] sentences so they don’t just stand there naked. They are all about us. Christ didn’t need these works. He would have remained a lord quite well without them. Rather, his conception and birth, his suffering and death, his ascension and sitting at the right hand are all for our benefit. They belong to us. Note that well!
it is not enough that he is “born” to us; he is also “given” to us. What does “given” mean? He is a [pure] gift, a present. There is nothing I have to give or pay in return.
He then has some wonderful things to say about the government resting on Christ's shoulders.
even the good authorities are carried on the shoulders of their subjects. But the rule of that Son who was born to us works the other way around: he carries us! We rest on his shoulders; he is our bearer...This is wonderful. Christ’s kingdom is not under his feet...it is on his shoulder...He must pay for us; he must make satisfaction and suffer. He must carry us, not we him. He does not want to be served, but to serve and to carry us. [He says,] “I will give you everything; all your guilt will be on my shoulder.”