Light For the Nations

The Narrative Lectionary points us this week to Isaiah 42:1-9. The Gospel text is Matthew 12:15-21. One familiar with the presentation of Jesus in the Gospels would find it difficult to think of this as anything but a Messianic prophecy.  In the past few weeks, we have entered into Advent in the darkness.  Habakkuk painted a dark picture with a hint of hope. Esther and Mordecai operated under threat of genocide seemingly not knowing that God would provide the escape through the Queen’s bravery. And even Isaiah’s text is a bit of light seen far in the distance. It is as if we are lost in a cavern and we see a glow, then a brighter light. God has sent a Rescuer, and He invites us to “Behold” him.

Isaiah presents a list for us, and that presents a challenge for the preacher. Preaching lists is attractive to me, but listening to lists can take away the luster of the sermon. Thus preachers have invented devices to try to put a shine back on a list such as alliteration or acrostic. Subdividing the list can also help. Those are fine and can help the listener to be attentive, but they do demonstrate that preaching a list is a challenge. 

Or one could center in on one thing from the list and spend time with it. I think that’s what I’m going to do this week, and I think it’s going to be ‘Light for the Nations’. That phrase can connect to many of the things on the list.  What will you do?

It is next week on the Advent track that the long-awaited Jesus arrives and with him comes much heavenly Joy. I want to be careful not to run to this yet, for there is power in waiting… exploring discomfort of the not-yet … and wrestling with the feeling that there’s something more we haven’t quite grasped. 

For that is truly where we live as we anticipate His return. Isaiah gives us the opportunity to look forward in anticipation.  And when that day comes we will join the nations as the darkness turns to light and the uncertainty bursts forth into praise. 

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth… 

Isaiah 42:10

Yes, Jesus is the Light of the Nations, but in our text, it is all future-tense. Though he is alive and reigning, there is still a sense of future-tense to our faith. As we peer over into the final Sunday of Advent, let us not neglect the beauty of waiting on the Lord. 

You’re invited to join the discussion and share resources on the Narrative Lectionary in my Facebook group Narrative Lectionarians (LINK).