THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, Sidon
Cornelius awoke on his desk again; this time with a sore neck. For the past few nights, he had been staying up late studying the Isaiah manuscript in his continued search for Jesus’ mission of which he in turn would determine his own task. Since that last Sabbath, Jesus had tasked his twelve disciples to go in pairs throughout the Galilean region all the way to the Mediterranean coast. They were to preach the message that was taught to them and given supernatural authority to heal and cast out demons by Jesus’ name. This gave Cornelius a number of rare opportunities to what he hoped would be answers to many questions that have dogged him. But Jesus had not been as forthcoming and their time together always ended with instruction to seek understanding in the Scriptures especially that of Isaiah.
He looked over his notes from last night. He shook his head as he noted that there were more questions than answers. He wanted to discuss some points with Jacob but remembered that he with Trax in tow went to the market. Feeling hungry, he went down to get some bread, fruits and a warm cup of wine and brought them back to his desk. While chewing on some bread, he picked up another sheet of parchment which had a table of content, a working progress, of what he and Jacob had determined is the second division of Isaiah’s thick manuscript. Jacob had organized it in chapters and sub-chapters. He ran his finger down the list until he came upon the Roman numeral XLII (42) which Jacob had sub-titled ‘Comfort because of God’s Servant’. He opened the Isaiah codex to the matching reference. In the preceding chapters, he had learned more of God’s character and his promise of Israel’s deliverance. By the way of the wording, it is still prophetical and unfulfilled. In those chapters, he did note several obscure references that may point to Jesus but disappointingly inconclusive.
As he read through this chapter, he perks up, for here are passages, though short as it is, that speak of the Messiah of whom God calls ‘My Servant’ and his mission. Again, Cornelius felt justified to find more proof that the Messiah was not just for the deliverance of only the Jews.
He reads, ‘Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.’
In another passage, he finds, ‘I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness. I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You. And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people and as a light to the nations…’
The next three lines, ‘To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.’ [Isaiah 42:1,6,7 NASB]
Cornelius recognized the seventh passage as the same message that Jesus sent to John the Baptist when he inquired to see if Jesus was the ONE. The rest of the chapter spoke of praise to God and again a hint of an establishment of a new covenant, abolishing the old.
He has no doubt that the Messiah’s mission is not just for the Jews but for all people. But the same question comes back to Cornelius’ mind, ‘How? How is Jesus going to bring true justice to the nations? What task awaits him for all of this to come about? And finally, what is his own task to help him?’
As the question popped into his mind, he looks at the thirteenth passage of this chapter and reads, ‘The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies.’ [Isaiah 42:13 NASB]
At first, the image of Jesus leading a conquering army disturbed him for that was how Rome forced its will to expand its empire. Does this mean that in the near future, he, a Roman Centurion of the highest rank and a Roman citizen as well, will change allegiance to follow him? Maybe even lead his army? It would make sense especially since he of Jesus’ disciples has military command ability. But he shook his head in disbelief. From what he have seen and heard and what he knows of Jesus, so far, does not make sense.
Then he remembered what John the Baptist said in the first time he met him, “This kingdom will not be won by the edge of the sword. No! It will be won by the love of one.”
Cornelius’ analytical mind made him take another closer look at this chapter but this time he pleaded to the one God… a God he had never prayed to before… for understanding. To him, it was the logical thing to do. It was his words after all.
Then another picture of Jesus started to develop in his mind. He is a warrior! But not like Cornelius’ warrior heroes of old like Alexander the Great, Achilles or Hector of Troy. And dare he say, even greater than Tiberius Caesar himself, Emperor of the empire that spans from the isles of Briton, most of Europe, North Africa and up to the eastern borders of Asia.
Cornelius had witnessed great power in him and yet, as it is written in Isaiah, “A bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” [Isaiah 42:3 NASB]
He knows a leader like this will harbor great enemies from both within and without. “Jesus needs protection!” He conclusively whispers to himself.
Jacob enters in a rush. “Cornelius,” he says breathlessly. “He calls the disciples together!”
The story continues on in my next post.
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