October 17, 2012
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 12:15-21.
When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many [people] followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
This is the longest citation from the Hebrew Bible in the gospels. It is from Isaiah 42, one of the “Suffering Servant” oracles spoken by Isaiah, which Christians interpret to be a description of Jesus. Isaiah, though, refers to “the nations” and “the coastlands” respectively rather than the Gentiles as Matthew cited. That’s a reflection of the faith community of Matthew in which Gentile Christians had become predominant.
The early Christians strove to link prophesies from the Hebrew Bible to Jesus, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. It seems we’re always looking for proof for what we believe, to know beyond a shadow of doubt that what we believe is true.
But God is subjective, not objective. No one has been able to prove the “existence” of God or to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and is seated at the right hand of the Father. For those who look for proof, there is none and they will be forever disappointed or forever justified in their disbelief.
So, why do I have faith? Why does it make no difference to me if Isaiah was prophesying the coming of Jesus? I don’t look to God to give me the answer to the meaning of life. I don’t believe He has an overarching plan for my life. I don’t think I need the solace of life after death.
My faith is ineffable, hard to put into words. I know that there is a voice inside me that is not my own; it encompasses me. I know there is a life force that is greater than me. I know that I am the instrument of a creative, life-giving force, a loving energy. The name I give to that is God. I know that God is. As I was thinking how to describe this and as I was writing, tears came to my eyes as if I were being affirmed.
I could write thousands more words about my faith, but these few are probably as close as I can come to stating why. Whether Isaiah’s suffering servant foretold the coming of the Son of God is really irrelevant. I don’t need proof; I am my own proof.