Thursday, March 9, 2017
Lenten Vespers - Week of Invocabit (Lent 1)
Matthew 26:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-9
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“Behold My Servant,” declares the LORD. The LORD has set Jesus upon a pedestal, so to speak, as an object for you to behold, wholly outside of yourself, that you may behold His will and His work for your salvation: “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My Soul delights; I have put my Spirit on Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
You see, the Prophet Isaiah is a mouthpiece for the LORD, proclaiming the Word of the LORD absolutely, intentionally, and with certainty – Thus saith the LORD; it shall be. This is the LORD’s Servant, and this is what the LORD’s Servant will do: He will bring forth justice. He will be humble and mild. He will protect and nurture new and growing faith. He will not be discouraged or grow weary when only one quarter of what He sows bears fruit, nor when He is rejected, despised, and murdered because men love the darkness and hate the light which exposes their evil, wicked, and sinful thoughts, words, and deeds.
Then, the LORD, through His Prophet, speaks directly to His Servant saying, “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.” Now, a covenant is made in blood, the word literally means “to cut.” Animals, lambs and bulls, were the typical animals that would be cut when a covenant was made. The two parties in the covenant would pass between the cut two halves of the sacrificed beasts lying to their left and to their right, signifying that, symbolically, the same should happen to the one who breaks the covenant by failing to uphold their end. The LORD gave His Son, His Servant Jesus, as a covenant for the people, the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the men of the world who repeatedly broke, and continue to break, the covenant.
Jesus is the LORD’s Servant, the LORD’s sacrificial Lamb of the Covenant. He goes forth willingly to the cross in love for His Father and for you. Jesus told His disciples exactly what would happen: “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Indeed, everything that happened to Jesus during His Passion was according to the will and the design of God the Father: “A woman with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment” anointed Jesus for burial. One of His own, a close friend and disciple, betrayed Him for a bag of silver coins. Jesus ate one last Passover meal with His disciples in which He offered Himself as the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God whose blood causes the deathly wrath of God against our sins to pass over us so that we are spared and live.
Behold and see what the LORD has done, and what the LORD is doing! He has brought light into our world of darkness. He has opened our eyes, which were darkened in the blindness of sin, to see. He has released us from the prison house of sin and death in which we were held captive in our sins and He has brought us prisoners out from Satan’s dungeon and set us free. And, the LORD foretold these things before they happened that His people might be comforted, have hope, and persevere. So too has He raised up His Servant from death, destroying that final enemy, that you might be comforted, have hope, and persevere.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” The victory over sin, death, and Satan has already been won by the LORD’s Champion, Redeemer, Son, and sacrificial Covenant Jesus Christ. Truly, the Christian faith and life has become a pilgrimage of wonder, even through the dark and dangerous valley of the shadow of sin and death, as we are given to see how the LORD will work all things for the good of those He has called according to His purpose. In the LORD’s Covenant kept and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear, for we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Jesus will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when He drinks it new with you in His Father’s kingdom, but He will drink it with you again. Indeed, before His Passion began, it was finished.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.