Yesterday we reflected on Isaiah’s prophecy of a Servant whom God sends to live among a people who have experienced disorientation and exile. We learn in verse 4 that this prophecy includes a sense of personal disillusionment: “I have labored in vain.” There are days when we feel the same. Not only do we doubt our work; we feel exiled from the land of our hopes and dreams.
Amid this lament a new sense of hope rises. God sends this Servant with a promise of transformation. Hope rises in us too as we read the address to “you peoples from far away.” The Servant’s mission is not just for the restoration of Israel; it is for the whole world. The story of exile comes to an end with a new story of restoration on the horizon. The description of the Servant brings us some clues.
The Servant’s mouth will be “like a sharp sword.” His words will cut through all the chattering voices to speak the truth. The message will be like a “polished arrow” and land where it is aimed. Its target is the restoration of the tribes of Jacob and all creation. God has dreamed of Israel’s freedom from even before the Servant was born. “God called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me.”
The task will not be easy. The Servant will be honored “in the sight of the Lord,” and God will provide the strength. The rulers of Israel’s time will not be impressed with the message and will despise the Servant. On that day, though, the leaders of all nations will honor the God who is faithful.
God chooses the Servant; God chooses us too.
What message does our world need to hear today? What message is God calling you to proclaim?
These readings contain the common theme of the power of spoken testimony. Isaiah begins by telling his audience, “Listen to me!” He then recounts not only his own story but also the promises of restoration given to him by God. The psalmist gives testimony of his experience. Although he has been in a difficult place, God has called him out and has given him a new song of praise to proclaim. Paul and Sosthenes write to the Corinthians to remind them of the powerful testimony that they had given them in person, which was confirmed by God. John the Baptist cries out that Jesus is the Lamb of God and bears testimony to the miraculous signs at the baptism. Our testimony as believers today can be just as powerful.
Read Isaiah 49:1-7. What does it mean to be God’s servant? How does this Servant Song speak of your experiences of serving God?
Read Psalm 40:1-11. When has scripture sustained you? What words have become a real presence to you?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. When have you turned your gifts inward as a sign of spiritual or social status? How can gratitude help you use your gifts in service to God and others?
Read John 1:29-42. How have you experienced Jesus saying to you, “Come and see”?
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