Monday of Holy Week, March 25

March 25, Monday of Holy Week

Scripture:  Isaiah 42:1-9

42 “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
    He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
    He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
    or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
    or put out a flickering candle.
    He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
    until justice prevails throughout the earth.
    Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”

God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.
    He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
    life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
    I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
    as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
    You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
    releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.

“I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not give my glory to anyone else,
    nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true,
    and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens.”

Some thoughts: 

     As we enter this most significant week in the history of the universe since the dawn of creation, we look at the remarkable words of Isaiah the prophet written 700 years before Christ. He describes the Messiah’s ministry in fine detail. In Judaic interpretation there is much vigorous debate as to the identity of the servant. Suggestions range from Cyrus, Isaiah, Messiah, and the most common interpretation being the nation of Israel as a whole. Christianity interprets the servant as Jesus, the Messiah based on Jesus’ own interpretation of the passage since he said the prophecy refer to himself! Let’s walk our way through the passage.

     While the Bible never uses the word “trinity,” it nevertheless teaches one God consisting of three persons. The first verse is a classic First Testament example. The “I” and “my” in the opening sentence refer to God the Father. The “he” in the second sentence refers to Jesus and the Spirit in the third sentence refers to the Holy Spirit. Three persons one God. As a reminder, note the text is LORD, that is YHWH, one God. So, here is an Old Testament example of referring to the trinitarian God.

     God speaks through Isaiah concerning his servant, Jesus. God’s plan of redemption first appears in the Garden of Eden. Bear in mind the divine Word, the Logos, is with the Father in heaven as Isaiah writes this. The Father is affirming the Son. He promises to give him strength to bear up against what is coming. Have you noticed this affirmation from God the Father also repeats itself several times when Jesus is on earth seven centuries later with the identical words? (Lk 3:22, Mt 3:17, at his Baptism; Mt17:5 at the Transfiguration; and Jn 12:28-29 during the first days of Holy Week.) I’d like to enlarge a bit on this last reference. 

     In John 12:27-30, Jesus utters these words, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father bring glory to your name.” These words were spoken only a few days before his crucifixion. In response to what Jesus said, a voice (God the Father) spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name and I will do it again.” The people present thought an angel had spoken while others thought it was thunder. Jesus’ response was, “It was for your benefit [people], not mine.” I mention these affirmations of the Messiah’s mission to earth to point out the involvement of the Trinity in all aspects bringing redemption to a very broken world.

     Being empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Servant Savior will bring justice to the nations. He will speak tenderly. He will help the weak and give hope. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not fail or faint in dealing with injustice. This glorious day is yet to come. You note the central theme in this portion of Isaiah’s writing has to do with injustice. The people of Judah were cheating and taking advantage of the poor. The wealthy and power-grabbing ruling class was crushing the ordinary people. It would seem that the same problem remains in our world today.

     In the next section Isaiah reminds the people that they are dealing with God the creator, the giver of life, their protector and provider. He will guide and guard the Servant Savior. He will be a light to guide the nations. In Luke 2:32, Simeon speaks these very words when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus for his Presentation at the Temple forty days after his birth. “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Once again, we see connections between the Testaments.

     When Jesus began his Galilean public ministry in his home synagogue in Nazareth, he quoted this very passage in Isaiah: “You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons” (Lk 4:18-19) thus identifying for the people of Nazareth that the hometown boy is the long-prophesied Messiah from the scroll of Isaiah! The Nazarites wouldn’t believe him and tried to stone him for blasphemy. 

     Isaiah concludes this portion of our reading with the statement of a true prophet of God. “Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the truth before it happens.” Seven hundred years later, every word he spoke came to pass verbatim! That is the test of a true prophet of God. What do you think the odds are of those things he prophesied that have yet to be fulfilled will come to pass? 

     What strikes me in this passage is the “affirming personal care” that is reflected from the Godhead as the Son of God dwelt in human form. It wasn’t as though Jesus said, “I’m going on a redemption mission to earth, and since I’m God, there will be nothing to it. I’m God after all.” Were that the case, we could hardly identify with Jesus, and he surely could not feel the pains and weaknesses humans grapple with. In this portion of Scripture, we see once again how very human Jesus was but also how very understanding and tender the Father is now and how present the Holy Spirit is to help and comfort us in our lives. As with Jesus, God is for us.  

Music: “The Blind Man Stood on the Road and Cried” Josh White (singing begins at :45)   


O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Be thou exalted over my friendships. Be thou exalted above my comforts. Be thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase; let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, “Hosanna in the highest.” -A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p.108