There is Little Joy in the Gentiles Coming to Christ

Epiphany 3 Tuesday

Isaiah 9:3

“By doing so, you create little joy, because you increase the Gentiles.”

Isaiah just described the light, that is, the gospel and the doctrine, setting forth where from, whereto, and why it comes and shines. Now he counts the students and disciples of such light and doctrine and establishes that there are two groups of students: One group does not accept the light and doctrine, as John 1:5 also says: “The light shone into the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.” This means that the majority of the Jews were offended by the light and stumbled over it, as John says again in John 1:11: “He came into his own, but his own people did not receive him.” But few and the least among the Jews received the light. This is what this means: “You do not make joy great, or create little joy,” which can be understood in two ways: First, there are few Jews who rejoice in this light, while the majority, those who are hardened, became angry, mad, and foolish because of it so that they persecuted it without ceasing until their end. Second, the joy among the saints where the gospel succeeds and many are converted. But the apostles did not have much of such joy among the Jewish people. In fact, they shed many tears on account of their hardened unbelief, as Paul does in Romans 9:2. And Isaiah himself proclaims elsewhere: “The messengers of peace will cry bitterly,” Isaiah 33:7, that is, the apostle who preach peace and the gospel will shed many tears, etc., although the Jews should have made the greatest
joy by universally believing in the gospel because such light had been promised to them before all other nations on earth and was brought to them by Christ himself. But the first meaning is the best and fits with the text because he says that there is so little joy because so many Gentiles are converted. Now, no one was irritated more than the hardened Jews that so many Gentiles came to believe. For the apostles rejoiced in it greatly…These days we could say: “God grants that many
people follow the gospel, but the papacy does not rejoice in it, that is, there are few in the papacy who rejoice, but many who are become irritated, mad, and foolish because of it.” And this text means exactly what Moses means in his song where he says: “I will make them angry because of those who are not my people; and because of an ignorant people I will make them jealous,” as Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:21 in Romans 10:16. That is to say, “I will receive the Gentiles who are not my people and who are ignorant because they do not have the law of Moses and who do not know as much about God as the Jews who hear it daily. Now, when it is said: “Look, the Gentiles are God’s people,” the Jews will become raving mad. For they alone want to be God’s people, although they do not want me to be their God, but have other gods. Because they leave me, I will receive others as my people.” So the meaning of the saying  “you create little joy, because you increase the Gentiles.”

St. Louis ed., 11:1976-1978.

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