Receiving the Promise – Reflection for 13 JAN 2019 (Isaiah 42:1-9)
Isaiah speaks to a people in exile about one who is to come. The one who will restore the glory of God to the people of God. The one who will bring justice. The people return from exile with great expectation. They wait. They work. They pray. Some are faithful. Some are not. They see empires rise and fall. Still they wait. For over five hundred years, they wait.
Jesus arrives on the scene in fulfillment of the prophecy to establish justice among the nations, to be a light not only to Israel but to all people, to open the eyes of the blind, and free those in prison. The waiting people will not receive Him. Their idea of justice is one of privilege and power for themselves rather than the rule of God. They are offended when sinners are healed rather than punished. They are offended that God’s glory is greater than the tribes of Israel.
We are a people who wait. We proclaim that we believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God who died and rose again, who ascended into heaven in glory. We proclaim our confidence that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We wait for Christ to return and establish the justice of the Kingdom of God. We wait in hope but we do not wait idly or alone.
The same Spirit which was in Christ is now in us. By baptism, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God. Through Christ, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and like Christ, we are sent into the world to do good and heal those who are oppressed.
Too often, I am like the crowds who though waiting for Jesus refuse to recognize and receive Him. I only want the light of God for the people I think deserve it. I only want healing and redemption for people that are mostly like me. I only want to hear truth if it agrees with my own feelings and desires. I want glory for my church, my tribe, my state, my country. I want a special blessing that gives glory to me.
Through Isaiah, God, the Creator of heaven and earth proclaims, “I am the LORD, that is my name, my glory I give to no other.” Too often, I mistake my own desires for God’s will. I vainly ascribe God’s name and glory to an idol of my own making. Like Israel, I look for a savior of my own choosing rather than the Messiah anointed by God.
Part of our waiting is receiving God’s promise of salvation. Receiving the light even when it illuminates the parts of ourselves we would rather hide. Receiving sight even when we see where we are in error. Proclaiming freedom to those who are oppressed even if we think they deserve punishment.
Isaiah proclaims, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights.” As we behold Christ, will we receive Him?