Sermon: God’s Chosen Servant Isaiah 42:1-9

God’s Chosen Servant

Isaiah 42:1-9

Truth Taught -God’s Servant brings forgiveness of sin for God’s people

Introduction

We have looked at the promised birth of our Savior from Isaiah’s Prophecy. Today, I want us to look to our Lord Jesus and His role or task that He had. In other words, why was He born? Why was the Son of God made to take on flesh? Why was Jesus called Emmanuel, God with us?

To really see what is going on in Isaiah 42 we must see what was happening in Isaiah 41. Isaiah 41 is God’s condemnation of Judah’s Idolatry.

Twice the Hebrew word HEN is used and translated behold. What is most significant here is that this sets up a pattern God uses to introduce us to His Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 41:24 (ESV)

24    Behold, you are nothing,

and your work is less than nothing;

an abomination is he who chooses you.

Isaiah 41:29 (ESV)

29    Behold, they are all a delusion;

their works are nothing;

their metal images are empty wind.

God very clearly makes His point. Regardless how good the craftsman is who shapes the idol, it is nothing and the craftsman is nothing. The way in which God proves this is that the One He sends, His Servant, our Lord is not a dead idol but a powerful servant and specifically One who is sent by the true God who speaks of things that have not yet happened. Case in point, here, God specifically speaks of King Cyrus 200 years before he is even born. Later on in Isaiah’s prophecy, he speaks of King Cyrus, God’s servant.

So, Lord willing today as we approach the celebration of Christmas and the coming of the Savior I want to look at what Isaiah has to say

As we begin, we must see first that Jesus is God’s Servant. He did not come to earth to serve us but to serve His Father. Jesus died for our sin in order to, as it were, clear or vindicate God’s name.

How could God be just and merciful to sinners at the same time? How could God pronounce death on the human race because of their sin and yet forgive us? So, Jesus came to grant salvation and grace to us sinners and, at the same time, maintaining God’s holiness.

Human Need

We must see our great need to turn away from idols and embrace the true God found in Jesus Christ our Lord. He came to restore all things.

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

Isaiah 42:1–9 (ESV)

The Lord’s Chosen Servant

42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

       I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

   He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

   a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

   He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.

   Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

       who gives breath to the people on it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

   “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;

I will take you by the hand and keep you;

       I will give you as a covenant for the people,

a light for the nations,

       to open the eyes that are blind,

       to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

   I am the Lord; that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to carved idols.

   Behold, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

       before they spring forth

I tell you of them.”

 

  1. The Servant’s Relationship with the Father

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

Here is a remarkable picture of the Lord Jesus given to the Prophet Isaiah by God. Many times the word hen is used in the OT to denote the fact that a person may be used by God to accomplish a task. Here, the word is used as a means of identifying a special person. Here God says that there is a Servant who I have a special relationship with. He is God’s servant, God’s chosen servant, and the Servant in whom God takes delight. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Literally, God takes delight in Jesus Christ, His Servant and He has been chosen the perfect Man for the job.

Jesus at His baptism is officially endorsed by God with the Holy Spirit.

In the previous chapter we read behold the idolaters are nothing and their carved images are nothing and now we read in answer to the misplaced worship due to idolatry, Behold My Servant. You see Jesus is the One who will restore proper worship of the Father. He is the One who will perfectly submit to the Father’s mission and will restore God’s people back to Him.

How is it that Jesus could accomplish the job God had for Him?

  1. The Servant’s Power

            I have put my Spirit upon him;

When God says that He has placed His Spirit upon Jesus He indicates that His presence is with Jesus in a very special way. The passage, I will never leave you or forsake you held special meaning to Jesus.

Jesus has been given God’s Spirit in order to accomplish all God desires to be accomplished.

Matthew 3:16–17 (ESV)

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

So our Lord was given the Spirit of God in order to accomplish God’s work. So, it’s no mistake that His baptism and the receiving of the Spirit took place before His ministry started. He had to have God’s Spirit in order to accomplish His ministry tasks.

Throughout Isaiah he speaks of One in which the Spirit would be upon. He does it in our text for today and in chapter 61

Isaiah 61:1–2 (ESV)

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed me

       to bring good news to the poor;

he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

       to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

It’s no surprise that when Jesus began His ministry He entered the place of worship and as the week’s Rabbi who was selected to bring God’s Word to the people He opened up to this text in Isaiah and read it sat down and declared that this passage was being fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4).

  1. The Servant’s Redemption

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

This is the Servant’s main overarching task. He is to bring justice to the nations. Now, we need to desperately understand that there is a difference between what we think of when we think of the word justice and what the Bible means by the word justice.

Initially, we might think that Jesus is to be some sort of divine attorney or a divine policeman who goes around performing justice acts. What we need to realize is the justice cannot ever make right what is wrong. The law is good for an ordered society but laws only go so far. Legal justice cannot undue the past. It cannot redeem what was lost. The government who passes laws cannot legislate transformation. It can’t redeem what was lost when the law was broken.

Think of it this way…suppose you have recently purchased a very expensive painting. This painting is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While you’re away a thief breaks in a steals the painting. After a few days the police call and tell you that the lead they had paid off and the thief was found and they assure you justice will be carried out. Then you ask, did you find my painting? The officer says unfortunately not but we do have the thief in custody. Then you say, I really don’t care about that too much I want what was stolen, returned. You see Justice in the legal sense did not make right what was wrong did it?[1]

Justice in the biblical sense means a transformation. When God tells Isaiah that this Servant whom He loves, He is the One who will carry our divine justice, He will restore to God all that was stolen when Adam sinned. He will restore the full image of God in man. Like the man who wants his painting back, God wants His image back. He wants all His people to reflect His image perfectly. If this is to happen, God must send His Son to do it. Only Jesus is the right Man for the job, only Jesus can pull it off.

In the Narnia Chronicles, CS Lewis tells us about a land where its always winter but never Christmas. You see without Christ it’s always winter but never Christmas in our land. Sin has so marred the image of God within man that He barely recognizable. Too often we display the image of sin rather than the image of God.

  1. The Servant Will Not Stop Until God’s Image is Restored

   He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

   a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

   He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.

 

Our Lord came to earth with a mission and He will not stop until it is accomplished. Until He exclaims from the cross, It is finished, He will not let up or relax or rest. He is divinely determined. He will restore God’s image to God’s people.

Notice how He does it. Just because He is unfaltering in His relentless pursuit of God’s mission, He doesn’t go about it like an aggressive dictator. Isaiah says He is tender in His care of those who have lost the image of God.
First we see that Jesus doesn’t raise His voice or cry out in the street as if to command people. His way is quiet and humble.

When He comes across one of God’s people who are broken He doesn’t step on them or say why have you acted this way? Why have you done these sinful things that caused you to be broken? What were you thinking? No, He cares for the weak and wounded.

   a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench

How does Jesus go about fixing lost sinners? How does He go about bringing the redemptive justice God desires? He does so one image bearer at a time. One lost person at a time.

We are all broken, we are all bruised reeds and smoldering wicks but Jesus is the divine Redeemer who takes broken people with barely any image of God left and heals them and adds fuel to the smoldering wick and ignites the flame of God’s image once again.

   a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

   He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.
There is something here that our English Bibles really can’t bring out. The translators try but the richness is somewhat lost in English.

Isaiah tells us that He gently goes after bruised reeds and smoldering wicks as a symbolic picture of bruised and smoldering people. In order to redeem us Jesus aggressively goes forth to become those very things to save us and restore God’s image in us and as He does so He will not grow faint or be discouraged in the process because those are the very things that He came to do.

   He will not grow faint or be discouraged

  1. The Servant who Takes Us By the Hand

   Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

       who gives breath to the people on it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

   “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;

I will take you by the hand and keep you;

       I will give you as a covenant for the people,

a light for the nations,

       to open the eyes that are blind,

       to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

   I am the Lord; that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to carved idols.

   Behold, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

       before they spring forth

I tell you of them.”

Do you see how powerfully Jesus takes us by the hand? Look at all He does to save us…

He will restore proper image in us, which will restore proper worship of God over against the false worship of idolatry.

Then Isaiah says the former things have passed away. The former things have died. Rather than God’s people dying due to the curse Jesus redeems us and our sin is put to death. Everything changes…
Isaiah 42:10 (ESV)

10    Sing to the Lord a new song,

his praise from the end of the earth,

I want to conclude this morning by asking you to turn to Matthew 12:9. Here Matthew gives us an example of how Jesus proved to be the Servant that Isaiah wrote about in Isaiah 42.

We see a bruised reed and a smoldering wick and we see Jesus taking him by the hand as it were and redeeming this poor sinner…

Matthew 12:9–21 (ESV)

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18    “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,

my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.

       I will put my Spirit upon him,

and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

19    He will not quarrel or cry aloud,

nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;

20    a bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not quench,

       until he brings justice to victory;

21        and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Do you see how tenderly Jesus restored the man with the withered arm? Stretch out your hand and it was healed. The One Isaiah said stretched out the heavens as He created everything is so intimately connected to His covenant people that He would also have this man to stretch out his hand.

Jesus was born to be God with us. He was born to redeem us, He was born to be our covenant, He was born to care for us, restore us, and give us back the image that we had all but lost through sin.

 

[1] Sinclair Ferguson

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