Jesus may also be sustained by the vision of Isaiah expressed in today’s first reading, the passage we have come to call the Second Servant Song. It is clear from the other parts of the New Testament that the Evangelists, and Paul too—when they wrote after Easter--understood Jesus to have fulfilled the role of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. It is also likely that Jesus understood his role as Messiah as fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. For though the Servant had reason to despair (“I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength”), he is assured by the Lord God that he will not only restore the tribes of Israel (“It is too little . . . for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel”) but, even more, he will become “a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The fact is, Jesus was able to sustain the betrayal and denial of some of his closest friends and to hope that his followers would become not only Isaiah’s “restored Israel” but also “a light to the nations.”Lord Jesus, what happened to you in the betrayal and denial of friends, will likely happen to us as well, as we try in our own frail way to collaborate in your mission of being a light to the nations. Help us to hold up under those disappointments and to trust that our small efforts to follow you will somehow fit your larger plan of nothing less than the salvation of the world.
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