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TWO ISAIAH TEXTS AFTER THE WILDERNESS

February 22, 2016

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He did this to give full meaning to what the prophet Isaiah said:

“Listen, land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
lands by the road that goes to the sea, the area past the Jordan River—
Galilee, where those from other nations live.
The people who live in spiritual darkness
have seen a great light.
The light has shined for those
who live in the land that is as dark as a grave.”
— Matthew 4:15-16 quoting Isaiah 9:1-2
“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again.
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly
and to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.”
— Matthew 4:18-19 quoting Isaiah 58:6; 61:1-2

The above quotes are from the texts immediately following the Wilderness Temptation of Christ. Matthew focuses on how Jesus returns home to Galilee and how this fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that people in Zebulun and Naphtali (Galilee) who were walking in darkness have seen a great light, the Messiah (Christ), Jesus of Nazareth.

Luke focuses on Jesus in Nazareth reading in the synagogue from the prophet Isaiah and applying the prophecy to himself. 

The dual impact of the Wilderness plus prophetic fulfillment is a form of epic story where the "hero" is purified, tested, goes through trial, then just when you think the trial is over and things are going to start with a bang, there is another trial.

In Luke's story, Jesus doesn't raise the ire of his fellow Jews with the prophecy and application to himself. What ticks them off and gets them to run him outside of town on a rail and to the brow of a deadly cliff is that he claimed God often speaks and works through not through blue blood Jews but through people like a widow from Zeraphath (region of Sidon, or modern day Lebanon), North of Israel.

"Everybody" in the New Testament loves to quote Old Testament to make their points. Even the devil quotes scripture to Jesus to make his points. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy in the three temptations to refute the devil. Matthew and Luke quote Isaiah after the Wilderness story to show Jesus is indeed the Messiah the prophets predicted.

The order of the gospel accounts is baptism, wilderness, prophetic affirmation. Jesus is endorsed by the Father at his baptism, led by the Spirit to the Wilderness, and affirmed by the prophet to be the true Messiah in the flesh, the Son of God.

Prayers

Yahweh, we pray for those walking in darkness, that they would see the great light of the Messiah. May the poor receive the good news that Jesus is the ruler of the universe and we have an advocate for the captives who has the power to set us free. May the blind, both physically and spiritually, see. May those who have been treated unjustly receive justice by the God who favors the humble in heart.

Fasting

Fast from sarcasm today. Particularly if you tend to be snarky, always rolling your eyes, feeling and commenting about how smart you are compared to the rest of the world. If the world is your stage to sport your cynicism, fast from that today. Get 10 $1 bills and put them in your right pocket. Every time you catch yourself (or give someone else the right to catch you), move a dollar to your left pocket. At the end of the day, see how you did. 

Giving

Give the money you moved to your left pocket to a cause you are cynical about or jealous of their success.