Here we see how God speaks to Israel in order to speak to all nations. God ‘chooses’ everyone! He wills the salvation of all.
‘I will make you the light of the nations.’ Isaiah has a universalist vision of the future. He makes this explicit against anyone who would regard the role of Jacob or Israel as other than an illustration and mechanism of a salvation offered to the whole of humanity – precisely through them.
Nothing could be clearer than the break-through from the particular to the universal as Isaiah records. Isaiah speaks for God – he ‘prophesises’. God chose Israel as his servant, not because Israel was in some way superior to others, but only to bring all people to himself. So now God says: ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob; I will make you the light of the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’! God so respects our humanity that eventually, in the fullness of time, God becomes one of us to enflesh the conversation begun at least 13.8 billion years ago!
At first rendered unable to speak, Isaiah sees it. God speaks to Israel in order to speak to the nations! Why? To save them all! God is not remotely interested in ‘saving’ some chosen few who regard themselves as in some way ‘chosen’. God ‘chooses’ everyone! He wills the salvation of all. This image should inform Christian attitudes to all other religions and all humanity. It exists to be the gentle impulse for the inclusion of all in God’s plans for human fulfilment. It should find in them echoes of that same action of the Spirit which guides and inspires its own soul.
Paul records how, from the outset, those who had experienced Christ’s inclusive message and actions, start to backtrack and want to colonise or monopolise the good news meant for all. He reminds the Corinthians that they are called to take their place among the saints ‘everywhere’! Not here and not there, but everywhere! Christ is their Lord no less than theirs! Exclusion in the name of Jesus Christ is the ultimate blasphemy. God’s mercy embraces all – so should all Christians.
John records how John the Baptist comes alive with the realisation that here comes the remover of the world’s sin – so he calls him: ‘The Lamb of God – that takes away the sin (not sins) of the world.’ In other words, here is the Chosen One of God, the pre-existent one (‘he existed before me!’) he came to reveal, the one upon whom he saw the Spirit come down, the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit. The author portrays John the Baptist as accepting that God cannot be confined to a partial, or exclusive plan. God will take away the sin of the whole world. And this man Jesus is the Lamb to take the sin away – to replace all the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
God in Christ offers salvation to all without exception, with no reference to their knowledge or lack of knowledge of Him or conditional on any belief or credal formulae. What ‘saves then’? It is a life connected to the Way of love of God and neighbour as exemplified by Jesus.