First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Seeing Beyond Our Limitations

1 "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighs. I have put my Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the nations. 2 He will not shout, nor raise his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. 3 He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a dimly burning wick.

He will faithfully bring justice. 4 He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth, and the islands will wait for his law."

6 "I, YHWH, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations; 7 to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison."

World English Bible

According to many modern biblical scholars, the book of Isaiah is actually the work of three different authors writing at three different times. Chapters 1-39 can be attributed to the original Isaiah who preached between 740 and 687 B.C. During the rise of the Assyrian empire. Chapters 40-60 can be attributed to the so-called "Second Isaiah." Second Isaiah wrote 150 years later (537 B.C.) with the anticipated return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. The remainder of the book (chapters 61-66) was written by the so-called "Third Isaiah." Third Isaiah wrote about 25-50 years after the return and addressed the need of the people to maintain hope. The present passage comes from Second Isaiah.

In this passage, Second Isaiah introduced the "Suffering Servant," the person who would lead the people like King David. Notice the servant was chosen by God; he was given God's Spirit, so he would bring justice to everyone, Jew and foreigner alike. [1]. For the society of the time, the servant would be counter-cultural; he would not be interested in fame or power. But his rule would be gentle but would be sure. [2-3] His rule would precede his teaching to the coast lands, areas west (the Mediterranean world) and south (along the Red Sea). [4]

In verses 6-7, God commissioned the servant. God called the servant to justice and to act as God's representative (as a covenant for the people and a light to the nations). [6] How was he to be just and a symbol? He would give the blind sight and the prisoner freedom. [7] These images of sight and liberation could be taken literally or figuratively. At the time of Second Isaiah, the ruling elite of Judea were captives held by the blind ambition of foreign dictators. In a figurative sense, the blindness and imprisonment could be the people's lack of faith. In either case, the servant would be God's instrument of wholeness and liberation.

As the year begins, we could use sight to see beyond our limitations and freedom from our self-imposed faults. Let us pray for this time of renewal, the gift of Jesus that the Father so willing give us.

How does a relationship with God help you see beyond your world? How does God help you see the possibilities? How does faith in Christ help lift you, to change you?