The Lord’s Chosen Servant
1st Sunday after Epiphany
The Lord’s Chosen Servant
Text: Isaiah 42:1-7
(A long silent pause) You don’t always need to be loud to get people’s attention. That’s not what most people think. Ever watch a clip of stock trading on Wall Street when the bell goes off? They aren’t whispering. Who gets the most TV time? The boisterous and mouthy people—like the cast of a TV show called Jersey Shore. Political campaigns are filled with impassioned speeches. Ever been to a football game before? 70,000 fans are all trying to tell a team or a player exactly what they think—good, bad, or ugly. Even our own K-1st grade CTK basketball league championship had the court lined with parents shouting to tell Johnny and Susie what to do.
Sometimes God was more than loud to get people’s attention. How did he tell the world he was disgusted with its sin? He ripped open the ground and burst rain from the clouds to create a flood that covered the entire earth. How did he show his holiness and power to Moses and the Israelites? Lightning struck, thunder cracked, and all of Mt. Sinai quaked and quivered. How did God call the prophet Isaiah into service? Isaiah saw the Lord seated on his throne. The temple shook and was filled with smoke. And countless angels called out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.”
But there are many other times that the Lord spoke and acted with quietness and gentleness. Today we have one such example in the first lesson, Isaiah 42. In a time of great sin and wickedness, and a time of foretelling his judgment against sin, the Lord paused to share a tender message of mercy.
Verse 1: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” A time would come when God would send a servant to do his work. This would be a very special servant though, unlike his servants Abraham or Moses or David. This servant would be upheld and established by God. This servant would be specially chosen by God. This servant would have the love and delight of God. This servant would have the Holy Spirit on him and with him to empower him even more. And this servant would be specially chosen and would be specially loved because he had a special task to do—bring justice to the nations.
If that verse sounds familiar to you, then you are thinking good Bible thoughts. It is almost word for word what we saw happen in the Gospel today. God said he would send a servant in whom he delights and on whom he would put his Holy Spirit. What happened in the gospel today? At Jesus’ baptism heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit was descending like a dove and lighting on Jesus while a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
This is a terrific evidence of our triune God in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. God the Father is talking about sending his Son Jesus Christ, in whom he delights and with whom the Holy Spirit would be. Then we physically see and hear that happen at Jesus’ baptism. That was the official beginning of Jesus’ ministry. That was the moment that Jesus was anointed, when God made clear to everyone: “You know that chosen servant I promised to send? Jesus is the one!”
It’s a tender moment, too. God the Father beams with joy and pride about God the Son. Jesus willingly came to be the servant that the Father had chosen. And again, his task was very important and special: “He will bring justice to the nations.”
All the nations of the earth have certainly been in need of justice. When there is crime, when there is evil, when there is wickedness, when there is injustice—then there needs to be justice. There needs to be a righteous judgment against such evil wickedness.
So we say, “Yes, Lord! Bring us judgment! Punish the pedophiles! Chastise the cheaters! Destroy the murderers and the black-mailers and the scam artists and the scum bags! Bring us justice!”
But if we talk about true justice, a judgment that is truly just and fair, then God must be completely just and fair. That means that holy, righteous, and perfect God would punish every infraction. Every wrongdoing would be noticed. Every sin would bring judgment. A holy God must bring judgment on every thing unholy. That’s justice.
Every little curse or swear. Every impure thought. Every bit of anger. Every bit of greed. Every bit of pride. Every selfish ambition. Every doubt. Every worry. Every sin must be brought to justice through judgment.
Suddenly our cries for justice fall silent. Oh. That means I must be judged. I must be brought to judgment, because I have sinned.
So how would this chosen servant bring justice to all the nations? Another global flood? More thunder and earthquakes? Would he blast sinners to oblivion like he is Iron Man or crush them under his judging gavel like he is Thor?
The Lord himself describes how his chosen servant would bring justice. Verse 2: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.” He wouldn’t stand on his soapbox and shout. He wouldn’t make a noise just to make a scene. He wouldn’t scream at people for their sins.
Verse 3: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Sinners who are bruised with guilty consciences he would not snap in half like a weak reed in the water. Sinners suffering heavy hearts he would not snuff out like a candle. He would be gentle and merciful and compassionate with those lost in sin.
Verses 3 and 4: “In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.” This chosen servant would not falter or fail or even be discouraged in his mission. What was that mission? He wasn’t going to demand justice. He was going to bring justice. He wasn’t going to expect justice, he was going to establish justice.
How could this happen? How could God reconcile sinners to himself? How could God punish sin with a just judgment, and yet at the same time be gentle, merciful, and compassionate?
The answer comes in a different description of this same servant in a different chapter of Isaiah. The faithful servant of Isaiah 42 later becomes a suffering servant in Isaiah 53. Listen to these famous words: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed . . . he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
Long, long ago, God foretold through the prophet Isaiah that he would send his special, chosen servant. He was talking about his Son, Jesus Christ. But Jesus did not come with violence or anger. He came with love and gentleness. He ministered to people on the streets. He preached to people in homes and on hillsides. He preached to them about God bringing justice for sinners. Then with utmost love and gentleness and humility, he won that justice. He was the one punished for every sin. He was the one who suffered. He was the one who died. He was the one who made it possible for God to exact justice on sin and yet at the same time declare us innocent.
On this day of his baptism we see that Jesus Christ is The Lord’s Chosen Servant. Jesus is the loving and compassion servant who is gentle in bringing us justice.
How pleased the Father was with his Son! God the Son (Jesus) carried out everything God the Father had planned. Look at how God foretold it in the second paragraph. Verse 5: “This is what God the Lord says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to his people, and life to those who walk on it.” First of all we must understand that the following plan comes from our God who made the heavens and the earth. The very God with the infinite power to stretch out the heavens and spread out the earth and give life to every living creature—that God made a plan. That means this plan was surely going to happen.
Here’s the plan. Verse 6: God the Father is speaking to Jesus (God the Son), “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Everything in this plan revolved around Jesus. So the Father supported his Son in this work. He called Jesus to live in righteousness and to give righteousness. He promised to take Jesus by the hand to strengthen him in this difficult task of suffering and dying. The Father was going to use his Son to be a new covenant for his people, a covenant of grace and mercy and forgiveness.
Through all of this, God’s chosen servant, his own Son Jesus, would bring salvation to all people. He would be like a light shining in the darkness. He would give sight to the spiritually blind. He would release those captive to the prison called sin and give them the freedom called forgiveness.
Everything in God the Father’s plan revolved around God the Son, Jesus Christ. He was the special, chosen servant the Lord had been planning to send for hundreds of years. That’s why we see such a remarkable event today when Jesus finally did arrive on the scene. The heavens opened. The Holy Spirit descended. The Father spoke and acknowledged, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
At this special event of Jesus’ baptism, the Lord was making several things crystal clear to us, things that we need not ever doubt. First, he makes it crystal clear that he is a triune God. As he foretold in Isaiah, so we also see in real life at Jesus’ Baptism. God the Father was speaking, God the Son was being baptized, God the Holy Spirit was descending like a dove.
Next, the Lord was making it absolutely crystal clear that Jesus is the chosen servant and Son of God. He was the one God had promised to send. He was the one who would rescue us. He was the one who would be our Savior.
Finally, the Lord was making it absolutely crystal clear how much he loved and supported his Son. There is no way we can ever possibly understand how our triune God works. But we do know that God the Father loved God the Son (Jesus), and that he was very pleased that he came to sacrifice himself to redeem fallen sinners.
There are a lot of ways you can get someone’s attention. There are a lot of ways you can communicate a message. There are a lot of ways that God has communicated messages. But today God has something to say in a very gentle and loving way.
Jesus Christ, his Son, is his special, chosen servant. God chose his Son to come and be the payment and sacrifice for sins. That payment brings forgiveness, and thus, justice to the ends of the earth. He is the one to lead us sinners out of darkness. He is the one to free us from the bondage of sin and death. He is the one to save us for all eternity.
And this pleases our God. It pleases him that his Son would do this. It pleases him to forgive us. It pleases him to save us. At this special baptism event today, see the Lord’s chosen servant, Jesus Christ, who came to make you God’s chosen servant. Thanks be to God.
Christ the King Lutheran Church and School is a Christian church and Christian school / private school located in Palm Coast, FL.
Christ the King Church and School
5625 N. US HWY 1
Palm Coast, FL 32164
Posted on January 15, 2014, in Church, Sermons and tagged Baptism, Baptism of Our Lord, Chosen, Church, Gentle, Isaiah, Isaiah 42, Jesus, John the Baptist, Loving, Sermons, Servant, Tender. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.