[Feb 22]--Secret Servant

Isaiah 42:1-9

            If you’ve studied the Bible for any length of time, you might have noticed a huge gap in our studies of Isaiah so far. The question might have come up in your mind: “Where’s Jesus? Didn’t Isaiah and the other prophets predict some stuff about him?” The answer is “Of course they did.” But I wanted to gather most of the material about the Messiah into one series, so I’ve pretty much avoided specific prophecies about Jesus’ first coming up until now.

            I got the title as a take off a practice we used to do at my old job at a pest control company. Every year in the month of December, many in our office would sign up for a “Secret Santa.” I would get someone else’s name, then give that person several non-expensive gifts over the next few weeks, and they wouldn’t find out who was giving them these little presents until the office Christmas party. And of course someone would be my Secret Santa as well.

            But Messiah is not Santa Claus. He’s not the Secret Santa; he’s the Secret Servant. Isaiah described him, but we didn’t know his name until long after Isaiah went to his reward.

            Let’s talk a bit about the term “Servant.” This and three other sections in Isaiah are called the “Suffering Servant” passages. They give pretty detailed descriptions about what the Messiah will act like, and what his mission will be. But this is the puzzle: It’s almost like there are two Messiahs, which was a theory among some Rabbis. The reason for the mystery is because on one hand the Messiah is sometimes presented as a conquering warrior who will defeat all of God’s enemies by force and who will enforce a reign of righteousness all over the world. On the other hand, we have here and in other passages the “suffering” aspect of Messiah’s work.

            Here he’s as gentle as a whisper. Matthew actually quoted this passage in describing Jesus’ earthly ministry, and how gentle he was with the down-and-outs and cast-offs of the world, which we’ve studied in this blog before.

            My friend, I’m sorry for sounding like a broken record, but I have to do it. I’m going to make one more appeal for reading the Old Testament of the Bible. If the only parts of the Bible you read are in the New Testament, you are missing so much. If the only things you know about Jesus are in the Gospels, then you have such an incomplete picture of him. If you really want to know his mind and heart, then you must read what the Old Testament says about him. Today’s passage, for example, parts the curtain for us and reveals a very intimate conversation between Jesus and the Father. You’ll only find this insight into that divine relationship here, not anywhere else.

            The Father said that he would take Jesus by the hand (since Jesus had given up some of his privileges as Son) and would lead him. Look and see what the Father would accomplish through him: He would make him a covenant and a light among all the nations (not just the Jews) and would use him to open the eyes of the blind, free captives from prison, and bring light to people  trapped in darkness. I think this was partially fulfilled when he was on earth, is being fulfilled more in the present day, and will be completely fulfilled when he returns.

            So what does this mean to me? Well, I can think of one way: Jesus is not an integral part of God’s plan for wrapping up history as we know it. He is the plan. He didn’t come to just set up a new covenant (or solemn agreement) between us and the Father. He is the new covenant. The Father and the Son (and the Spirit) worked this all out before the first moment of time, and we ain’t seen nothing yet. He hasn’t shared all the details with us yet, but we know enough. And as we read more from Isaiah in the next few days, we’ll see more than we could've ever dreamed.

Father God, your plan is perfect. You don’t share any glory with any creature, and that’s the way it should be. All praise, honor, glory, and thanksgiving belongs to you, and that means none of it belongs to me. May my life reflect that.

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