Lent 2022 Day 37
Wed 13 Apr
Matt 3:3; Isaiah 40:3 Jesus in Matthew
Matt 3:3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’
Is 40:3 A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
There is a quiet comfort on my part to see that Matthew has a slightly different version of Isaiah from the one I have. It causes me no problems when writers or speakers, quoting from the Old Testament, can seemingly get the words a bit wrong. The Old Testament was largely heard, because people did not have their own copies of the scrolls to study. The scrolls of the books of Scripture were stored safely in boxes in the synagogue. But let’s go to the words.
The words of the scroll of Isaiah are a mix of writings and motifs that may have not made complete sense to the listener. It’s probably the work of more than one author. Matthew wanted to show how his story of Jesus relates closely to prophecies in the Scriptures, and a Jewish audience would find this interesting.
If you read the fuller passage you can see that John does reasonably fit the description found in Isaiah, though he surfaces and then disappears again quite quickly as the text moves on. Matthew later mentions the book of Malachi in Jesus’ words as he describes John:
‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
For Matthew, the portrayal of John as the last Old Testament prophet, and Jesus as One who was to come and is now arrived is important. Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, and the prophecies in the Old Testament all point to Jesus not only as the promised Messiah, but as one who would suffer and die for our sins.
Jesus fulfils Scripture. He is the Passover Lamb, the perfect sacrifice. He is the Great High Priest, who sacrificed himself for us, something Jewish scholars would never have guessed. The structures and motifs of Scripture come together in Jesus.
What passages in the Old Testament have your name written in them (implicitly, of course, unless your name is Ezekiel)
Father God, the old Scripture was written in its entirety to prepare for the arrival of Jesus – a chosen patriarch, a nation, fall and redemption are all there. Would you help me mine the rich seams of these books, that I may know your loving purposes in sending me Jesus?