12 December 2011

Isaiah 8:16 - 9:1 (Looking for the living among the dead)

"In the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations." (v. 1)


In Luke's Gospel the brightly shining men speak to the grieving women come to the tomb after Jesus' death: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen" (Luke 24:5). This is the message of our passage today. Isaiah speaks to a people over preoccupied with the past; its failures and hurts, its triumphs and victories. There is a temptation to allow the past to hold us; digging up the old bones of stories from before that still imprison us, and remembering the failures and unhappiness that shape our now. There is a further temptation to look back to allow the ghosts of yesterday to 'chirp and mutter' about the present, giving the past undue glory and authority over the present and too much power to shape tomorrow in unhelpful ways. In this context Isaiah points to the coming of Christ and sets our sights onto a future that is both more wonderful than anything in the past. Here is one who is able to conquer the ancient stories of grief and anguish. Christ comes as Lord of the living: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). We are not therefore to "consult ... the dead on behalf of the living" (v. 19). As Jesus tells us: "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22).

To Ponder

Where does your yesterday overshadow your today?

Where do you rely on old habits to cope with present difficulties?

How might you change your perspective, attitudes and behaviour?

A challenge:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.