Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom is my delight. – Is. 42
Behold – to look at, view, watch, observe, gaze upon, see, signify, consider, contemplate – to have, hold, occupy, possess, guard, preserve, contain, keep.
Don’t run by this word too fast. “Behold.” When God tells you to behold, He is saying, whoa, hang on there. Stop. Slow down. Fix your eyes. Focus. Set aside all the busy running here and there and the scattered thoughts of your minds and hearts with all the stuff you think is so important. He is urging you to actually see someone who is right before you, someone who is more than just a little bit important. He is inviting you to see something you would totally miss if He didn’t point it out to you. He is calling you to stop, look, listen. That’s a pretty good preview for our Signs of Lent series.
Behold, my servant, whom I uphold. Behold, my chosen in whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit on Him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John stood in the Jordan river and witnessed the event Isaiah had foretold. The Son, the Servant, Yahweh’s own – right there before him. The spirit descending on Him like a dove. The voice of God coming from heaven – This is my One and Only Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased – delighted – overjoyed. Behold! Look at Him! I have put my Spirit upon Him. John even said himself, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
And now as He is transfigured on the mountain, God the Father says nearly the same thing, as a cloud overshadows them, and a voice comes from the cloud, This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him! Behold! Look at Him! Listen to Him! I have put my spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice and righteousness to the nations.
Now, we hear justice, we think of getting even with the bad guys. But in the Scriptures it means setting right all that has gone wrong. And what’s gone wrong is our lives – lives filled with fear and judgment and guilt and shame. Behold, the Man and His mission. He’d say it himself: God did not send me into this world to condemn it, but to save it. I haven’t come to condemn you, but to save you. Justice isn’t getting even with the bad guys, but setting right all that is wrong in this world and with ourselves. God has poured His love into our hearts by the Spirit He has given us in order to bring us back to Him.
Behold the Servant, the delight of His Father, filled with the Spirit, headed to the cross to hand over that same Spirit to the world. Behold Him as He gets to work on His mission. He is not boorish or bullish. He is not noisy or threatening. He doesn’t cry aloud or lift up his voice to make it heard in the street. There is a quiet confidence, a gentleness about Him. A bruised reed, he will not break. A faintly burning wick he will not quench. This is the kind of justice He brings. A tender and healing hand. Not to condemn you, but to save you. Not to destroy you, but to heal you. And He continues His patient work all the way to the end: to the cross.
Ecce Home – Pilate says – Behold the Man. Behold the God/Man faithfully bringing forth justice by enduring the pains of His passion. Setting right all that has gone so utterly wrong. One for all and all for one. On the cross it was all against One, but that One was for us all. Faithfully He walks the path, without fainting and without fail, He goes all the way for us, loving us to the bitter end, to the telos, to the culmination, to the fulfilment, till He establishes His justice and righteousness to the ends of the earth.
To Him the Father speaks, the Father who created the heavens and the earth, the Father who gives breath to the people on it, the Spirit to those who walk on it, for in Him we live and move and have our being, He says: “You are my beloved Son. 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 and a light for the nations. To open blind eyes, to unstop deaf ears, to bring prisoners out from their gloomy dungeon and their deep darkness.
This was His mission as our Savior and Redeemer. He lived His life by the hand of His Father and in His Father’s delight. He knew that His whole being was a gift that His Father would give as an unbreakable and unshakeable promise to the people, as a light for the gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel. He is the gift that would open the eyes that were blind and bring the prisoners out of the gloom and darkness. Eyes that were blind to the Father’s heart of love. Prisoners trapped in a deep darkness and gloom. The place where you judge others constantly, where you judge yourself and judge God perhaps hardest of all. The darkness of imagining that God hates you and is in fact your enemy because if He gave you your just reward, you’d be headed straight to the pit of hell and you know it. Into that deep darkness, the light of life begins to shine forth in Christ. It pierces the darkness, breaks our shackles, and sets us free. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In the gift of God’s Son we are finally able to see the truth. All that is right and good and true and pure – ultimate reality. In His loving presence – in His gentle touch – in His kind words. Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. That is what Jesus comes to bring to the nations, the peoples, the tribes, to you and me.
As Epiphany transforms into Lent this week, it is our duty and delight to invite one and all to stop all of the hurrying, worrying, and scurrying – and to join us this Lenten Season to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, His Servant, our Savior and Lord, our blessed hope and joy. Behold Jesus. Blessed Lent.