This morning I was reading the Mass readings from Isaiah about the Suffering Servant. Four passages in Isaiah are designated as “Servant Songs.” These are poems which the early Christians saw was a foreshadowing of Jesus. They are Isaiah 42:1-7, 49:1-7, 50:4-9, and 52:13-53:12. In this case, I was reading Isaiah 49: 1-7.
- 1 2 Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
- 3 He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.
- 4 You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.
- Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.
- For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!
- 5 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
- Thus says the LORD, the redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, To the one despised, whom the nations abhor, the slave of rulers: When kings see you, they shall stand up, and princes shall prostrate themselves Because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.
I was particularly struck by verse 3: “He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me.”
A sharp-edged sword. It’s not what we usually think of Jesus. Loving, gentle, guiding Jesus. Our light. This Jesus is a polished arrow, a sharp-edged sword….a King.
Usually, when I picture Jesus I see the Sacred Heart or the Divine Mercy, which are “soft,” gentle pictures – but really he is a strong figure. He is more like the “Pantocrator” above, which is a 6th Century icon from Mt. Sinai in Egypt. I have this picture, on wood, in my home and it is my favorite picture of Jesus.
If I think of Jesus as a strong, confident King – along the lines of King David – I find that I have a greater reverence to Him. It seems to be easier to follow this Jesus. He has everything in order. His battle plan is ready. He is my leader and I am in his service. He has a mission for me that only I can do. One that He has created from before I was born. I need to be faithful and strong in the face of the enemy. I also need to show honor, reverence and adoration to my King.
It is hard to follow a wimpy Christ, but when I think of my Savior and my King as he is – the Creator of the world, who holds the world and it’s creatures in the palm of His hand – I know that I have a strong leader. A leader who I can follow, and to whom I am also accountable to. It is harder to try to escape my duties or make excuses to a King who is a Sharp-Edged Sword.