The prophet Isaiah in this third song of the servant of the Lord, speaks about that servant whose mission is to give comfort to those who are weary, using the gift of speech that he has received through his obedience to the word of God. As the poor of his people are like split reeds about to break, smoking wicks about to be snuffed out, that Servant of the Lord must give them back hope. He is always attentive to everything the Lord tells him. He is well trained in the act of suffering, knowing that the Lord will not disappoint him (Isaiah 50:4-7). His heart and ears are trained to be wide open in order not to miss any instruction of the Lord, knowing that listening to God’s word, laden him with great responsibilities. His mission will be those of suffering and humiliation, as a result of the message he must deliver. He will denounce injustices, and condemn every form of corruption, be they political, moral or religious. He would be scourged, tortured, insulted, spat upon and be ridiculed (Isaiah 50:4-9).
This whole drama plays out with the Christ event-the passage of his life through death and resurrection. Jesus was not afraid of this drama because he sees his mission as that of the suffering servant of Yahweh. Jesus himself would regard himself as the Messiah who would not be a victor in the worldly sense, but a loser; he would not be one, who kills, but one who gives up his life, in order to take it up again. He would be the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, in order to germinate and bear more fruits. He would adopt the way of humility, in order to be raised to glory. He would put his life on the firing line to protect all those the Father has entrusted to his care.
As the redactor to the letter to the Hebrews tells us, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. The trials, passion, death and burial of Jesus, were antithesis to the truths and thesis about Jesus- that he is the Son of God and Son of Man; that he came from the Father; that he and the Father are one; that he is Divine; etc. His resurrection will be the final act of God and the synthesis reaffirming that Jesus is truly the Son of God, whose mission was a Divine mission from the Father for the salvation of the world.
This is the message that Jesus in our gospel reading, today, was communicating to his disciples, when he asked his disciples, questions about his identity. He wanted to know who the people say that he is; and who they, his disciples, believe him to be. After Peter answered correctly on behalf of the apostles, Jesus strictly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. He went ahead to teach them about his divine mission of suffering much, being rejected, and being put to death, only to rise three days later. At Peter’s opposition to these, Jesus rebuked him and went ahead to speak about the necessity of following him through the way of the cross for one to find, or save his life (Mark 8:27-35).
In all of these, by his Passion, Jesus teaches us his disciples, to be courageous and fearless, in bearing witness to the truth. He displayed these also in his passion, trial and crucifixion when brought before the Chief priest and the scribes, and Pontus Pilate.
By these, Jesus teaches us to follow his own example and imitate him in his two-fold love for the Father and for humanity. A true disciple must be known in the way he or she looks at the world through new eyes, which is the eyes of God. He is identified by his or her Christ-like love. That is why St. James asks what good is it to profess faith without practicing it. Faith must go hand in hand with good works. For that reason, he says: “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you the faith that underlies my works! (James 2:14-18).
May God give us the spirit and grace to follow the ways of Christ’s love.