Isaiah 49:5-6 “And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel for himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
From the very moment that Jesus was conceived, the Lord was putting him together in such a way that he should answer this calling to serve as a light to the Gentiles. Just think of the ways in which Jesus was already acting as God’s servant before he was born. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth after Gabriel announced that she would carry the Savior of the world, Elizabeth immediately rejoiced. She was strengthened in her faith to be in her Savior’s presence. John the Baptist leaped for joy inside Elizabeth because he was in his Savior’s presence. From the very beginning God was using Jesus as his servant.
Look at how Jesus served God’s purposes from the moment he was born. The baby Jesus preached no sermons, but his very presence increased the faith of lowly shepherds. He turned them into missionaries, and moved them to praise God. As an infant he did the same thing for old Simeon and Hannah in the temple. Before he could speak a word he was a light to those around him.
There are several different purposes a light can serve. We usually use them to help us see. But in times past there has been another common use for lights. They serve as a beacon or marker. They mark a spot so that we can find it, like a lighthouse marks the shore line or runway lights show where the runway is.
Jesus served as this kind of light when the Lord called him to bring Jacob back, to gather Israel to himself. Although these people had turned their back on him time after time, God still wanted to gather them to himself. Jesus was the beacon who showed them where to go.
It was never God’s intention to share the Gospel with just one nation. When he chose Abraham’s family as his chosen people, he promised that through Abraham ALL nations on earth would be blessed. Jesus’ light led all nations to their God.
Not everything Jesus went through to be the light to the Gentiles was pleasant. Isaiah describes him as one who was despised and abhorred by the nation. Throughout his life Jesus was challenged and despised by the ruling groups in Israel: the self-righteous Pharisees, the liberal Sadducees, the Sanhedrin, the priests.
By the time Good Friday came, it seemed as if the whole nation had turned against him. His twelve best friends betrayed, denied, or deserted him. Common criminals mocked and insulted him. God himself turned away from the pitiful sight of Jesus on a cross. His death was not a pleasant sight. Isaiah later describes him as one who was despised and abhorred.
But as the last little flame of life in him flickered and failed, at just that moment the light of the world was blazing away, finally making it clear just how God would save all people. His death may have been very humble, but it shows all the world the glory of God’s love. It lights the only way back to the Father, the only way to heaven.