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The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C

The Baptism of the Lord 

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Another element of this prophesy that’s sort of fascinating is the fact that this anointed servant brings the gospel, or brings the good news, to the Gentiles, right. Which, as we’ll see, a very important theme in the Gospel of Luke is the fact that the Gentiles are going to be saved along with Israel. You can see this, you might have missed it, but in verse four when it says, “the coastlands wait for his law.” The coastlands is always an image in the Old Testament for the Gentile peoples. You might remember in the Old Testament, for example, the Philistines, who were the pagan enemies of David, they lived on the coast of the holy land.

So the coast and the sea, like Rome and Greece, those lands across the sea were always associated with the pagan peoples of the worlds. So when it says the coastlands wait for the Torah, the law of the servant, what Isaiah is describing here is a new Torah, a new law.  It is not going to be like the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses, the Torah of Moses, was just meant for the Jewish people, just meant for the people of Israel, the 12 tribes; but the law of the servant who is anointed with the Spirit is going to be for the Gentiles, and the Gentiles are waiting for that new law to come to them when the servant is finally anointed with the Spirit. And that's what it means when he says I've given you as “a light to the nations.” The nations there, the Hebrew word goyim is just another word for the Gentiles, for the pagans. They’re going to receive the light of the new law of the servant, who again, in light of other passages in Isaiah, can be interpreted as the Messiah.

So the reason the church picks this passage as background to the Baptism of Jesus is because Jesus is being revealed as the beloved, not just the Son, but the beloved servant of God, in whom God’s soul takes delight, upon whom the Spirit comes, and who will eventually bring this new law, this new light, not just to Israel but to the Gentiles as well. That's what he’s going to do, and the way you’ll know he's the servant — I almost missed this but it’s important — is through his miracles, right. He's going to open the eyes of the blind, he’s going to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon. That's exactly what Jesus is going to begin to do in his public ministry, open people's eyes to the truth of his new law, but also literally open their eyes through his healings, and his signs, and his wonders...

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