It’s the Christmas season, or close to it. It certainly is the time of year when you start hearing songs that match the season. In most cases, of course, they are winter and Santa songs that folks enjoy so much. But, if you are listening, you will still find glorious pieces of music that actually focus on Jesus. And, if you are really in a good spot at the right time, you’ll start hearing pieces from “The Messiah.”
I cannot open Isaiah 40 without having a song come rushing to my mind. Does it do the same for you?
3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
While this passage gives me musical memories, it is also a passage that rings out in the ears of the New Testament reader. After all, this passage is on the lips of John the Baptist quite early in the gospels.
Matthew 3:3 – For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’ ”
It makes sense that this text would be on John’s lips, as he was sent by God to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. John came to call Israel to repent, to be ready, to set things in order for the arrival of their promised King. And, while many came to John in repentance, many were unwilling to change anything in their actual lives or in their society.
What caught my attention as I read through Isaiah 40 was not the call for one to prepare the way of the Lord. Instead, it was what we see in verse 5. Remember that, in many cases in the New Testament, a prophecy cited may be a place marker to tell hearers that they need to find the answer to their question in and around that prophecy. So, though Matthew only gives us Isaiah 40:3, the whole section here applies to John and the Messiah to come.
What would happen when the way was prepared? That is what gets my attention. Once John calls the people to be ready, what would come? Isaiah tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed. What a wonderful statement this is. John would prepare the way. The people would be called to repent. And then, at just the right time, we do not simply see that Messiah will come. WE also see that, in the coming of the Messiah, the glory of the Lord will be revealed.
What is God’s glory? The glory of God, in the Old Testament, was often discussed in the context of the brilliant light of glory that filled the tabernacle or temple. The word glory has connections to the value, the weight, the importance of the Lord. So just consider how important it is that, with the arrival of Jesus on the scene, the glory of the Lord is revealed.
What has my attention may make better sense with a contrast. If I were to walk into a room, I do not think you are likely to declare, “The glory of the Lord has been revealed!” While God is glorified in his people, created in his image, rescued by his Son; I do not think anybody is likely to mistake my person for the glory of the Lord. But, when Jesus strides onto the scene, John the Baptist and Matthew in telling the story point us to this prophecy of Isaiah. John came to prepare the way. Jesus, when he steps onto the stage, reveals the glory of the Lord.
So, what I’m getting at is that Jesus, in revealing the glory of the Lord, is something absolutely wonderful. Jesus is the Lord. Only the arriving Lord can truly and fully reveal the glory of the Lord. And this is what our Savior did. Jesus revealed to us the power, the love, the grace, the justice, the will, the ways, the glory of the Lord. Jesus showed us God, because he is God in the flesh.
Christians, worship Jesus. Jesus is not just a good man who connects us to God. Jesus is the God to whom we come for life. Jesus is our picture of the glory of the Lord.