(Second) Isaiah presents us with the first messiah from God, Cyrus the Great of Persia, who does God's bidding in freeing the exiles from the yoke of Babylonian oppression. Yet, there is also the disturbing imagery of the Suffering Servant that appears several times in Second Isaiah, unrelated to Cyrus, and likely describing a known individual who is unknown to us. This one, too, is God's special servant. The description is harsh and ugly, not the servant who was expected, as well as neither welcome nor appreciated. The servant is scorned and despised, yet fulfills God's mission and is ultimately exalted for it. The text is usually read on Good Friday, and you can see why.
Matthew is traditional after Christmas. Christmas Eve is always dominated by Luke's pastoral story of amazement, singing, and joy amid a humble country scene. Matthew shows us something quite different. King Herod's scheming around the magi lead to furtive angelic messages that send the holy family scrambling into Egypt for safety. Angered by their apparent escape, Herod orders a massacre of innocents.
Unexpected, unwanted, and unwelcome, the Chosen One of God has never been well received. Maybe that's why we prefer our pretty Luke story on Christmas Eve, and bring out Matthew's cold reality after everyone has been filled with pleasantry and had their happy time. Are the brutal realities that face God's servants more than we care to deal with?
There are more challenging questions in the sermon video below. Note the downloads available below the video panel.