We get a repeat from this past Sunday (just verses 4-7 from Isaiah 50) in today’s first reading, and a little bit more (adding 8-9) –the whole of the Third Suffering Servant Song:
The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.
The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?
The Servant preaches boldly, and yet is rooted in prayer. The Servant does not flee in the face of persecution, but relies on God. Not dis-graced. God’s grace is given, experienced, regardless of misfortune. Do you hear an echo of this in Jesus’ reply to his questioner in John 9: it was neither the blind man’s sin nor his parents’.
If this were a literal human experience of Isaiah (or second Isaiah) then there’s a lot of bold talk for someone who is about to be delivered a death blow. The final song, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 will be read on Friday.