God's Servant, A Light to the Nations - A Meditation for Holy Monday

Isaiah 42:1-9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

42 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
    I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
    a light to the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
    I tell you of them.

It is Holy Monday. Our Holy Week journey began with Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem, humbly, mounted on a donkey and her colt. In the coming days many of us will gather to share in the remembrance of Jesus' last meal, gather before the cross, to hear the words of Jesus as he died on a Roman Cross, and finally gather on Easter Morning to give praise to bear witness to the resurrection. As we move toward the culmination of Holy Week on Easter Sunday, I invite you to meditate on this reading from Isaiah 42. It is the first of the Servant Songs that emerge out of the Exile. Although there might be some scholarly disagreement as to the identity of the Servant, I'm convinced that it is Israel. Therefore, this song serves as a reminder that even though Israel is in Exile, it remains God's covenant people. As the covenant people of God, Israel continues to be God's light to the nations. 

At the same time, from a Christian vantage point, the mission of Jesus has been interpreted in light of these songs. Thus, he is the bruised reed who will not break. He is the one who brings justice and light to the nations. In him new things come into existence. Yes, death will come to Jesus, but death will not be the last word. New things will spring forth. Let us, therefore, give thanks to God, as we meditate on this reading from Isaiah, for this new thing that comes from God, who is our Creator and our Redeemer!


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