Reader: “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.”
Response: “He is my chosen one, who pleases me.”
Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-9
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”
God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out.
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison,
releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
“I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to anyone else,
nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true,
and now I will prophesy again.
I will tell you the future before it happens.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
As we enter this most significant week in the history of the universe, we look at the remarkable words of Isaiah the prophet written 700 years before Christ. He describes the Messiah’s ministry in fine detail. Let’s walk our way through the passage.
While the Bible never uses the word “trinity,” it nevertheless teaches one God consisting of three persons. The first verse is a classic First Testament example. The “I” and “my” in the opening sentence refer to God the Father. The “he” in the second sentence refers to Jesus and the Spirit in the third sentence refers to the Holy Spirit. Three persons one God. As a reminder, note the text is LORD, that is YHWH, one God. So, here is an example of referring to the trinitarian God.
God speaks through Isaiah concerning his servant, Jesus. Bear in mind the Son of God is with the Father in heaven as Isaiah writes this. The Father is affirming the Son. He promises to give him strength to bear up against what is coming. Already the Son is willing to go on this mission as it were. Have you noticed this affirmation from God the Father also repeats itself several times when Jesus is on earth seven centuries later with the identical words? (Lk.3:22, Mt.3:17, at his Baptism; Mt.17:5 at the Transfiguration; Jn. 12:28-29 during the first days of Holy Week.) I’d like to enlarge a bit on this last reference.
In John 12:27-30, Jesus utters these words, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father bring glory to your name.” These words were spoken only a few days before his crucifixion. In response to what Jesus said, a voice (God the Father) spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name and I will do it again.” The people present thought an angel had spoken while others thought it was thunder. Jesus’ response was, “It was for your benefit (people), not mine.” I mention these affirmations of the Messiah’s mission to earth to point out the involvement of the Trinity in all aspects bringing redemption to a very broken world.
Being empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Servant Savior will bring justice to the nations. He will speak tenderly. He will help the weak and give hope. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not fail or faint in dealing with injustice. You note the central theme in this portion of Isaiah’s writing has to do with injustice. The people of Judah were cheating and taking advantage of the poor. The wealthy and power- grabbing ruling class was crushing the ordinary people. It would seem that problem remains in our world today!
Then in the next section Isaiah reminds the people that they are dealing with God the creator, the giver of life, their protector and provider. He will guide and guard the Servant Savior. He will be a light to guide the nations. In Luke 2:32, Simeon speaks these very words when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus for the Presentation at the Temple forty days after his birth. “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Once again, we see connections between the Testaments.
When Jesus begins his Galilean public ministry in his home synagogue in Nazareth, he quotes this very passage in Isaiah: “You will open the eye of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons” (Lk.4:18-19) thus identifying for the people of Nazareth that the hometown boy was in fact the long prophesied Messiah from the scroll of Isaiah! The Nazarites couldn’t believe him and tried to stone him for blasphemy.
Isaiah concludes this portion of our reading with the statement of a true prophet of God. “Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the truth before it happens.” Seven hundred years later, every word he spoke came to pass verbatim! That is a prophet of God. What do you think the odds are of those things he prophesied that have yet to be fulfilled will come to pass?
What strikes me in this passage is the “affirming personal care” that is reflected from the Godhead toward the humanity of the Son of God. It wasn’t as though Jesus said, “I’m going on a redemption mission to earth, and since I’m God, there will be nothing to it. I’m God after all.” Were that the case, we could hardly identify with Jesus, and he surely could not feel the pains and weaknesses humans grapple with. It would be more like, “He’s God after all, how can he identify with us?” In this portion of Scripture, we see once again how very human Jesus was but also how very understanding and tender the Father is and how present the Holy Spirit is to help and comfort. The events of Holy Week tie all of this together. Give glory to God.
Music: “The Blind Man Stood on the Road and Cried” Josh White Don’t miss it!
O my God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow. When I think upon and converse with thee, ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, then thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness. I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for it is a heart fashioned after thy own loving heart; for a mind to care for my fellow-men, a mind created after thy own compassionate mind. I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures. How I love Thee, my Jesus, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reign one God, world without end. Amen. ―adapted Daniel Sharp, from The Valley of Vision, p.15.