By Elaine Knudtson
“Emmanuel” sung by Amy Grant
A Light to the Gentiles
The Christian church is the inheritor of a new covenant that brings hope to all peoples, as first announced by Israel’s prophets of old. These divine promises were realized through the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. We hear the good news of the fulfillment of ancient prophesies at Christ’s birth, as declared by angels to nearby shepherds. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. . . Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10, 14
Lord, we are part of a rich tradition stretching back before the birth of Jesus. Just as we have received access to your promises through your gift to the whole world, let us be mindful of our responsibility to share that good news with others, whether they believe in you or not. Christianity is “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread” (D. T. Niles).
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” Isa. 42:1-7.
I stood outside the reception hall at our hotel admiring the decorations set up for a coming wedding. I pictured myself in those chairs, enjoying the feast with the bride and groom and being part of a beautiful celebration of love. But I wasn’t invited.
Scripture tells us of a feast where no one comes. The invited guests find excuses for not attending, so the Lord of the feast sends his servants into the “highways and byways” to invite anyone who is willing to come. Their status is no longer considered; only their free will and desire to attend.
I am that beggar in the faith. I have been adopted into the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because the invitation of God has been extended to me. Just as anyone living in North America has to admit, “we’re all immigrants”, so as non-Jews (Gentiles), we must admit that we were not members of God’s chosen people to begin with. But, through the birth of Christ, we have been invited to the great Messianic banquet prepared for us on the last day. Until then, we embrace his love, by faith and look forward to the certain hope of eternal life.
“Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name. Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people. Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles and sing praises to him all you peoples. The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him. May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Rom. 15:8-13.
Points to Ponder
- What is your response to the invitation to come and be part of God’s family?
- How does the connection to the ancient Jewish religion add validity to the claims of Jesus?
Dear Lord, we have been invited to join in the inheritance you set aside for your people. Through Jesus we are granted entrance to the promises and access to the very throne of God because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the invitation.