Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? (Isaiah 50:2b)
In this passage, a series of questions confronts the listener. God is asking questions. And through the metaphor of a suffering servant, God is taking on human traits. In Isaiah chapter 50, God has a physical presence–a body–which is punished and abused.
One June, when my first son was just a baby, I heard the tornado siren go off at dusk on a Sunday evening. Strangely, a friend was driving through our town just at the same moment, returning from a visit to relatives. She had her child, also a baby. Through the wonder of cellphones, we were able to connect quickly. She sped over to our driveway in the hail and wind, carrying her child up our steps. The power was out, and we hurried, wet and scared ,with sleepy-eyed nine month olds, into the basement crawlspace under the stairs.
We had blankets, a flashlight, the crank-radio. We sat in the darkness and waited. I wondered what I would do if our house were damaged…but immediately the answer came. She and I would shield our children with our bodies if necessary, taking the brunt of any debris into ourselves.
Would it have worked? At that moment, I didn’t even care. The fierce determination of love will do anything and everything, including bodily harm, to protect, to save.
This Sunday we move quickly from triumphant Hosannas to the siren call of betrayal. But watching from the crawlspaces of our sanctuaries, we will see the fierce determination of love, and how it will be embodied, in this holiest of weeks.
Jesus, the embodiment of love and bringer of salvation: shield us, your children. Amen.