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Jesus Through Isaiah’s Eyes | Provision

March 17, 2024
Isaiah 35:1-10

1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; 

the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; 

2it shall blossom abundantly 

and rejoice with joy and singing. 

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, 

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. 

They shall see the glory of the Lord, 

the majesty of our God. 


3Strengthen the weak hands, 

and make firm the feeble knees. 

4Say to those who have an anxious heart, 

“Be strong; fear not! 

Behold, your God 

will come with vengeance, 

with the recompense of God. 

He will come and save you.” 


5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, 

and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 

6then shall the lame man leap like a deer, 

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. 

For waters break forth in the wilderness, 

and streams in the desert; 

7the burning sand shall become a pool, 

and the thirsty ground springs of water; 

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, 

the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 

8And a highway shall be there, 

and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; 

the unclean shall not pass over it. 

It shall belong to those who walk on the way; 

even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

9No lion shall be there, 

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; 

they shall not be found there, 

but the redeemed shall walk there. 

10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return 

and come to Zion with singing; 

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 

they shall obtain gladness and joy, 

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

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To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst

To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships

To participate in God’s mission to the world 

Opening Prayer

We beseech you, almighty God, to look mercifully upon your people: that by your great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Responsive Prayer—Isaiah 9

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

On those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Jesus Christ is our life and light.

In his name and in his power, let us worship God!

Summary and Connection

In the great American movie, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”, Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, who is again separated from his family during a Christmas vacation gone awry. In the tradition of the first “Home Alone” movie, “Home Alone 2” is a meditation on the meaning of “home.” The Plaza Hotel, Central Park, and a gutted townhouse are all exciting sets for comedic hijinks, but none of them are a home for Kevin. Home is being in the right place with the right people, and home’s opposite, homelessness, means not merely separation from home, but from the ones we love. We see this in the character of the Pigeon Lady, a woman who is both homeless and friendless, and who is therefore hopeless. But restoration to home, to the right people and the right place, brings joy. That is what Isaiah 35 is about. While a 1992 feel-good Christmas movie can never match the power and profundity of Isaiah 35, “Home Alone’s” nostalgic charm draws from the same source, which is the hope of a home where you are not alone, but in the right place with the right people, rejoicing.

We are in a sermon series during Lent called Jesus Through Isaiah’s Eyes. This week, we jump back to an earlier chapter in Isaiah’s book to see what true end-time restoration will look like. Following chapter 34, which is filled with judgment and fury, death and smoke, and a curse on the nations that reduces them to wilderness and rubble, we read chapter 35. This is the opposite. The wilderness will be filled with flowers and flowing streams, the weak and vulnerable will be strengthened, and the people in bondage will be ransomed and redeemed and brought home. The result will be singing, gladness, glory, and joy. We know that Jesus meditated on this particular chapter because in the gospels, Isaiah 35 is his answer to John the Baptist’s doubts when he sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them’” (Matthew 11:3-5). Not only did Jesus look back to Isaiah to see his mission in its particulars, in the healing and restoring of individuals, but he must have seen his mission in its sweeping grandness, in ransoming and redeeming a helpless people and bringing them home to a renewed creation.

At the same time, we often see in our lives the wilderness, the feebleness, and the anxiety of feeling far from home. Our external circumstances or our individual concerns can make us blind and deaf to what God is really doing, and mute about what he’s already done for us. That is why we have to look at Isaiah looking at Jesus. We have to see the one who will truly, finally bring us home. We have to see the one who left his own home to fulfill the prophecy: “Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). When we see him, we’ll start to sing.


Discussion Questions

1. Looking at the Bible

Observation: Read the passage privately. What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage? Do you notice keywords, parallels, or surprises?

  • Look at the passage and find the three places where joy and singing are mentioned together. What or who is singing? What is significant about each one?

2. Looking at Jesus

At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.

  • In spite of this hope that brings joy and singing, we often doubt. Read Matthew 11:3-5 and ask this: What was John doubting, and how did Jesus answer? And, what leads us to doubt, and how does Jesus answer us with Isaiah 35?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

  • Read verses 8-10. If Jesus is our way, what does that mean about our purity? About our ability to stay on the path? About our safety on the journey? And about our destination?

4. Looking at Our World

  • Where do you currently volunteer, or where would you like to volunteer? You can also pick a ministry for which you’re praying or that you support in some other way. How does the restoration of the land, the weak, and the exiled, here in Isaiah 35, change the way you look at that ministry?


God’s word is a lamp to our feet. Christ’s teachings are a light to our path. May God’s word take root in our lives. May Christ’s love nourish and sustain us. Amen.

  • View Study Guide Notes

    Question 1: It is amazing to note that the first singer is the desert itself. This is in keeping with the psalms and prophets which state that the forests will clap their hands, the mountains leap for joy, and all creation will sing: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth” (Psalm 96:11-13). This also reminds us that the wilderness is a meta-narrative, or a big story, throughout the whole Bible. Adam and Eve are exiled from Eden into an unforgiving world, Israel wanders in the desert, and Jesus is tested in the wilderness for 40 days. God’s redemption, previewed here, not only rescues us from the wilderness, but even transforms it, so that it sings.

    The second singer is the mute. This is significant because mutes typically do not make great singers. But in Jesus’ hands, we can all sing praise and glory. In Matthew 15:30-31, we read: “And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.” 

    The third singer is the redeemed and ransomed of the Lord. They are on their way home, likely through the singing, blooming desert, and they are belting out tunes of praise as they go. It makes you wonder what it will sound like to literally harmonize with creation. And, it is an inspiration for us who are also in the desert to start singing anyways, knowing that our true home, our real destination, is safe and secure in Jesus, and we are already on our way there.

    Question 2: John was doubting Jesus’ identity, so he asked him, “Are you the one?” John was in prison staring down eventual execution, which is not how successful movements usually end. John needed to know if his hopes were in the right place. It is a good question, asked in faith, to the right person, expecting a real answer. And Jesus answers, look at the signs. Look at the fulfilled prophecies. Look at how Isaiah 35 is coming true in my ministry. Like John, our doubts are often rooted in our personal circumstances. The Bible highlights the importance of the heart, and even modern psychology shows that much of our intellectual doubts or convictions come from our feelings as much as they determine our feelings. So our doubts are like John’s: rooted in our hope for joy. So we also need to know how Jesus answers us. Hebrews says that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ hope for joy was us, which is why he endured the cross, and then commands you and me to “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet” (Hebrews 12:12). His love for us strengthens us for the journey and calls us to a perfect home with him.

    Question 3: This is a personal application question. Each partial question can be taken one at a time. Our purity depends on our already being ransomed and redeemed, in other words, it depends completely on Jesus, and not us. Our ability to stay on the path is guaranteed when we’re in Jesus. Our safety on the way will be uncompromised. It does not mean that we avoid suffering or danger, rather, because Jesus commands us to take up our cross, it likely means the opposite. However, we will never be in danger of God’s judgment, of losing Jesus’ love, or of ever being separated from his presence. That is because Jesus suffered on our behalf, so that our destination is not in hell but in Zion, the heavenly city that will one day come down to renew our desert world, where crying and pain will be no more, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Revelation 21:1-5). 

    Question 4: This is a personal application question that applies to mission. Hopefully the answers are encouraging!