In the name of the Father…
Let us pray. Lord Jesus Christ, be present now. Our hearts in true devotion bow. Your Spirit send with grace divine. And let Your truth within us shine. Amen.
Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7
Behold 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.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5 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 on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Don’t run by it too fast. “Behold.” When God tells you to behold, He is saying, woah! Slow down. Stop. Focus. Set aside all the the busy running hither and thither and the scattered thoughts of your minds and hearts with all the stuff you think is so important and which any slight reflection reveals is absolutely not. He is urging you to actually see someone who is before us, someone who is a little more than important. He is inviting you into awe at something you would totally miss if He didn’t point it out to us, summoning to just stop and look. To see.
Behold, my servant, whom I uphold. Behold, my chosen in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit on Him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
And so John stood in the water and witnessed the miracle. The Son, the Servant, Yahweh’s own. There before him. And Yahweh revealing Himself as Father to this one: THIS is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am tickled pink. Delighted. Overjoyed. He’s the joy of my heart. Look at Him! See Him! I have put my Spirit on Him. He will bring forth mishpat to the nations.
We hear justice, we run to Aristotle without even realizing it. Not the equal due. Not giving each what they deserve. But the setting right of what has gone wrong. And what’s gone wrong is our lives filled with fear and judgment and shame; our not living in love. Behold, the Man and His mission. He’d say it himself: God did not send me into this world to condemn it, but to save it. I haven’t come to condemn you, but to save you. Mishpat to the nations isn’t giving the nations their comeuppins. Mishpat is setting right what is wrong by pouring out the Spirit, who resides on and in Him and flows through Him to bring love back again. Spirit. Love. They run together. God has poured His love into our hearts by the Spirit He has given us. And love just isn’t about comeuppins.
Behold the servant, the delight of His Father, filled with the Spirit, headed to the cross to hand over that Spirit to the world. Behold Him as He sets to work and be in awe. He is not noisy or threatening. He doesn’t cry aloud or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street. There is about Him a quietness, a gentleness. A bruised reed, he will not break. A faintly burning wick he will not quench. This is the justice He brings. A tender and a healing hand. Not to condemn you, but to save you. Not to destroy you, but to heal you. And He continues His patient work all the way to the end: to the cross. Do you see and hear His silence before Pilate? He is faithfully “bringing forth” justice. Birthing it in the pains of His passion. The setting right of what has gone so utterly wrong. Mark remninded us of one for all and all for one. On the cross it was all against one, but that one was for us all. Faithfully and without fainting or being discouraged He walks the path, love “to the end” to the fulfilment, till He establishes this justice and the ends of the earth, the coastlands, wait for His instruction.
And to Him the Father speaks, the Father who created the heavens and the earth, the Father who gives breath to the people on it, the Spirit to those who walk on it, for in Him we live and move and have our being, He says: “I am Yahweh. I have called you in righteousness. You, my beloved Son. I will take you by the hand and keep you. I will give you as a covenant for the people and a light for the nations. To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out from the gloomy dungeon and the darkness.”
This is the mission of your Jesus, and the comfort from the Father in which He accomplished it all. He lived His life in the hand of His Father and in His Father’s delighting in Him, and so He knew that His whole being was a gift that His Father would give as an unbreakable promise to the people, as a light for the gentiles. He is the gift that would open the eyes that were blind and bring the prisoners out of the gloom and darkness. Eyes that were blind to the Father’s heart of love for you. Prisoners trapped in a darkness and gloom whereby you judged others nonstop and judged yourself hardest of all except for the judgment that you judged God with. Gloomy darkness indeed. The darkness of imagining that God hates you and is in fact your enemy because if he gave you your just reward, you are headed straight to hell and you know it. Into that darkness, a light shines and it breaks the shackles and it sets free.
In the gift of the Son you see the truth for the first time. You see what really is. In His gentle touch. In His kind words to you: Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. THAT rest is the mishpat He came to bring to the nations, to the peoples, to you and to me.
In these Epiphany days, it is our duty and delight to invite one and all to join us in stopping the hurrying and the distractions and to behold for a bit the glory of God in the face of Christ, His Servant, our blessed hope and joy. Behold. My servant. Behold. A bruised reed he does not break. Behold He won’t stop until He brings it to pass. Behold, God is love. Behold, God loves you. Behold, how He loves you. Behold, Jesus.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Living God, eternal Father in heaven, we give You thanks for the multitude of Your tender mercies and Your loving-kindness, which have been from of old. We bless You for creating us for everlasting life, redeeming us in Your Son, Jesus Christ, from all sin and destruction, and calling us by Your Spirit to the knowledge of Your glory. O Lord, we are not worthy of the least of all the mercies and truth which You daily show us. It is of Your mercy that we are consumed, because Your compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Give us day by day an increasing sense of Your bountiful goodness so that drawn in love to You we may surrender and consecrate to You our own selves and all that we possess, to the glory of Your holy name. And as no unclean person shall stand in Your sight, blot out our transgressions by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Righteous, and grant us Your grace that we may not deceive ourselves and excuse our sin, but confess them and be cleansed of them. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Do not allow Your Word to return to You empty. Instruct both young and old in the truths of Your Gospel. Enlighten and sanctify all ministers of Your Word. Cause all hearers to receive that Word not only in the ears but in their hearts. Surround Your whole Christian Church with Your unending mercy. Stretch forth Your right hand and Your holy arm to prevent the evil one from disturbing Your children by his wicked plans. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Look with favor on all civil rulers and those under their authority, that they may faithfully discharge their duties according to Your will. Direct by Your Holy Spirit all who are invested with authority in our national and state governments, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, for the punishment of wickedness and for the maintenance of righteousness and order. Grant us peace, our daily bread, and deliver us from evil all our days. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Have mercy on those still living in the darkness of unbelief, and bring them to know Your dear Son. You did not create man for vanity, so send faithful laborers into Your harvest and sustain those whom You have sent, particularly Pr. Tim Rosenthal, serving as chaplain in the armed forces, that they may proclaim Your truth with boldness. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Remember in mercy, Kezia and all women with child. Grant them increasing happiness in their blessings. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
O faithful Father, we commend to Your care all Your children throughout the world who cry to You in suffering or illness, injury or injustice, especially Your servants Susan, Roger Ruth, Allan and Jan. When You decide to try us in the furnace of affliction, comfort us anew, that we may behold Your glory and praise You. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
O Lord, we beg You, hear our prayer, and do not let our petition fail, for the sake of the perfect redemption and powerful intercession of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who also taught us to pray:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.