In today’s reading from Isaiah, we hear the first of three “Servant Songs.” It’s not clear who exactly the servant might be; the prophet himself, Israel then or sometime in the future or as Christianity has always maintained, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is almost uncanny how it seems to reflect so much of Jesus’ life. A person could conjecture that Jesus knew the passage and then set out to fulfill it in the three years of his public life.
Jesus spent much of his energy promoting and bringing about justice. He multiplied the loaves and fishes to see that people had enough to eat. He cured lepers so that they could be a normal part of society. And for those isolated from one another Jesus used his power “To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” He was a champion in helping to provide the basic necessities of life for the people.
Then there are the words “my chosen one in whom I am well pleased.” These same words were heard from heaven referring to Jesus on a few occasions like at his baptism in the Jordan and at his Transfiguration on the mountaintop. I’m sure it confirmed him in his mission and gave his followers further reason to believe in him.
During his public life Jesus certainly didn’t promote an image of himself as a powerful and triumphant Messiah. Rather the legacy that would remain was that of the “Suffering Servant.” How much he reflected weakness and vulnerability are pictured by the “Bruised reed that he shall not break and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” Jesus was just the opposite of the militaristic and conquering Messiah expected by the Scribes and Pharisees.
Too often we measure success in victories and accomplishments that can be measured in rewards and trophies. Seldom do we think of “greatness” as fulfilling the purpose God planned when he placed us here on earth. In the Gospel we read that many people became believers in Jesus because of Lazarus whom the Lord raised from the dead. As far as we know from Scripture, Lazarus is noted for little more than his miraculous resurrection. “And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.” It wasn’t what he did but what Jesus did with him that made him a celebrity and a great recruiter for Jesus’ cause. It’s good to realize that becoming the person God planned us to be does more to further God’s Kingdom than by what we do or say.
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