Isaiah 49:1-7 • Psalm 40:1-11 • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 • John 1:29-42
As we witnessed last week in Isaiah’s prophecies, Isaiah is addressing a people who have been completely traumatized and placed into their new reality. While they had ignored God’s instruction through his prophets for decades, now they are experiencing the fruit of their choice to ignore truth. They have not yet turned back to God, and they are still listening to the false prophets, regardless, God is getting them ready for deliverance. Jeremiah and Isaiah both, at this point, are speaking of the hope that lies ahead….even before the people have turned back to God. In this passage, Isaiah is speaking to the work, and nature, of the unknown person(s) who will deliver the people out of exile and slavery. He is also giving us a view of what is to come in regard to the Israelites. The call is for all the Israelites to come back together and that they will be a light and strength to all the world. This is a theme of the ultimate deliverer of whom the prophesy speaks – the deliverer Jesus Christ. Truth, unity, and light.
Psalm 40:1-11 (Responsive Reading)
Psalm is a familiar tale of our response to God’s working in our life. The Psalm recounts the Psalmist’ detailing of a time that they called out to God and saw his answer. It then goes to season of gratitude followed by a natural response of sharing God’s deliverance. This response of gratitude and sharing is a natural response that ties into the response of the first disciples called by Jesus. They could not help but go and tell others about what (who) they had found – the one they had been looking for. Then, in an equally very real human nature response, the writer begins another plea calling out to, and for, God’s steadfast love and mercy. It is a tale of the enormity of our human response to the God who is present and hears our cries.
I Corinthians 1:1-9
The church at Corinth was established by the apostle Paul around fifty years after the birth of Christ. We have two, of the probable four letters, in our Bible that Paul wrote to the Corinthians following his eighteen month stay. Corinth was a very important city to the Romans for economic as well as military reasons. The greek word ‘Korinthiazomai’ which means ‘to act like a Corinthian’, came to be known as ‘to practice fornication’ a reputation that fit the city well with its greek temple housing one thousand prostitutes. The church is made up of Jews and Gentiles fully representative of the overall population of the city. Not long after Paul left the city he began hearing troubling news from, and about, the church (the people) at Corinth. He heard of divisions, immorality, and false theology. The letters to Corinth all come out of a deep concern for the church and a desire to correct, and then encourage, the body of believers.
The verses leading up to our gospel focus passage are powerful and enormous in their reach and message. The book begins at creation and by verse nineteen we see John the baptizer already preparing the people for the ministry, work, and revelation of Jesus Christ. We also see that it takes only those eighteen prior verses to bring up the problems Jesus will face. The religious officials send some of their key people to question John about what he is doing and why he gathering the large crowds. John point the religious leaders to his role as preparer for the Messiah and that it is Jesus, who had already been baptized by John, that is the truth they are looking for. Soon we see John pointing his own disciples to follow Jesus. This passage details the decision to follow Jesus and the immediate impact on each of them.