The prophetic voice of Isaiah and his recurring theme of redemption through the Messiah yet to come (hundreds of years later) is startlingly specific and powerfully sweeping in scope. With a precise focus on the area of Galilee, looking toward Nazareth and Capernaum yet to be, Isaiah pinpoints the exact location of the childhood home and initial ministry of Jesus. He prophesies a fabulous destiny greater than can be humanly imagined: a great Light shines through a Child, a Son Who will be called Mighty God and Father of Eternity among many other titles, and Who will rule the entire world bringing peace and justice with righteousness FOREVER:
ISAIAH 9:1b In the former time [the Lord] brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He will make it glorious, by the way of the Sea [of Galilee, the land] beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined. 3 You [O Lord] have multiplied the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You like the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil [of battle]. 6 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. 7. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The apostle Paul picks up Isaiah’s theme of Jesus as the Source of true spiritual light, with a statement of breathtaking depth, from the moment of God’s speaking into being the creation of the universe by His Word, all the way to His shining Presence in the hearts of every follower. Jesus Himself is the Light Who illuminates us with the true knowledge of God’s glory and majesty. He alone manifests this enlightenment revelation through His very Person and especially by the Light of His Face. We can each experience face to Face blessing and illumination from Jesus, as we choose to gaze intently at Him, moving toward Him beyond our current circumstances(Hebrews 12:1-3), with a willingness to surrender all that distracts us from appreciating Him alone as the One and Only Pearl of great Price (Matthew 13:45-46).
Many of us have had a true initial encounter with Jesus, and we have had further glimpses of Him, but can become falsely contented with less than He desires to have with each of us. Jesus is always and forever calling us to come up higher, go on further, and to enter into deeper relationship with Him. He wants to shine His light in greater measure, so that the darkness of the world around us, and the weakness of ourselves and all other human beings is not what we are depending on.
Instead, we are called to carry this ineffable light of Jesus within our very normal, weak human vessels, recognizing that we are not worthy in ourselves to be examples by our own virtue, nor oracles or flowing fountains of life by our own knowledge. Rather, we are compelled by Jesus’ love flowing into us, to open our mouths and allow our countenances and deeds to show His Presence within each of us (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) to everyone we encounter:
2 CORINTHIANS 4:6 For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 7 However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.
We are called to be active participants in this divine process of our own redemption, by actively pursuing a greater and more encompassing relationship with Jesus, grabbing hold of everything He has offered us to complete each of our unique destinies! James, Jesus’ apostolic brother, echoes Paul’s call to us to join with all mature followers of Jesus, (James 1:22-25) by becoming doers of His word, not just those who hear it.
The core of our pursuit of Jesus is to become more deeply connected to Jesus by actually coming to really know Him, not just about Him. This true knowledge leads us to embracing Jesus in His sufferings, by communing with Him in our own difficulties (Isaiah 53), which will result in our sharing in the glory of His resurrection life!
When we taste of these powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4-5), we are enabled to let go of the past, in effect to forget the pains and pleasures that we leave behind, in order to give ourselves to focus and lean forward and take hold of the newness of life, living in and being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-17), actually becoming the children of God in reality (1John 3:1-3). This is the goal and upward call of Jesus for every one of us who have named Him as our Lord and Savior:
PHILIPPIANS 3:10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
Even as we engage ourselves fully into developing our relationship with Jesus, this is only an entrance into His sovereign rule and reign over us, in which we learn to give up control willingly. We recognize, as John the Baptist did (John 3:26-31), that we must decrease until it is no longer us living for ourselves, so that Jesus may increase in us and out from us.
We have no resources in ourselves to do this, but we walk our lives out by the one true faith generated within us for us, and then received from us by Jesus Himself. Our trust in Jesus is not a blind faith, but a faith renewed by continual experience of His faithful loving Presence with us, picking us up and holding us close as we need it, if we are willing to pull ourselves away from the false and powerless loves of the world (1John 2:15-17) to run to Him!
Jesus showed us His great love by calling us His friends (John 15:9-15) and then laying down His life for us. This demonstration of Jesus’ love was the foundation for the constant flow of His love and care and concern for each of us right now, available to us if we want Him more than everything else:
GALATIANS 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by the faith in and of (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.