The Lord says it is too light a thing that you should be my servant. You will be a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the end, reach to the end, reach to the end of the earth. I have labored in vain.
The Lord says kings shall see and stand because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel. Sing for joy,
O heaven and earth for the Lord has comforted his people, has comforted his people.
Bring Jacob back, bring Jacob back. Bring Jacob back. I have labored in vain.
Bring Jacob back. My Lord has forsaken me. Bring Jacob back. My Lord has forgotten me.
Isaiah 49: 1-13
Thursday night of Holy Week ends where Jesus’ last week began: at the Mt of Olives, where the prophets promised the Messiah would appear. The story of salvation begins where the story of creation began: in a garden.
Peter- and probably the other disciples too- brings a sword with him to the garden. Even now Peter expects Jesus to turn out to be the sort of Messiah they’d all wanted. A Messiah worthy of palm branches. A Messiah who provokes and leads a war. A Messiah who deposes Caesar as handily as God disposed of Pharaoh.
Peter wants to sing a victory song as badly as the Israelites had wanted to sing.
Peter brings a sword and Jesus rebukes him: ‘Do you think I couldn’t appeal to the Father and he will at once send me twelve armies of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?’
In the garden Jesus prays: ‘Let this cup pass from me.’
John Howard Yoder says this is Jesus wrestling with his final temptation. This is Jesus struggling to believe that the only way to defeat the power Sin is to suffer the very worst it can do.
“I have labored in vain” Isaiah foreshadows.
Here’s a question for tonight:
Does Isaiah imagine Jesus speaking those words, as the darkness creeps all around him and defeat seems certain.
“I have labored in vain” is this Jesus speaking?
Or does Isaiah imagine those words spoken by you and me?
Those of us who’ve given years to Jesus and brought swords with us only to discover he’s not the sort of Messiah we had wanted.