I’ve said it before, but I have to say it again: If the only things you know about your Savior are what come from the New Testament, your knowledge of him is so inadequate. Isaiah--and the rest of the prophets--paint such a glorious portrait of the Messiah that I can’t help but gaze in awe of him.
First off, with all due respect to all the Jewish interpreters out there who insist that this is describing national Israel, whom are you trying to kid? How can anyone who’s at all familiar with the history of national Israel believe for one second that the obedient "Servant" in this passage is referring to that bunch of disobedient, rebellious ingrates?
So what do I see here about my Savior? What does this passage tell me about him?
First, I see an intimate relationship with the Father that seems so far out of my reach. Here’s the image for us: Every morning when Jesus woke from sleep, these were the first thoughts that he consciously chose to think: “Good morning Father. What do you have for me today? I’m listening. Oh, so that’s what you want me to do? Done.”
That brings me to the second aspect, the conjoined twin of the first: Unquestioning obedience. The Father told him, through the work of the Holy Spirit, what Jesus was going to do that day. The Father told him what to say and how exactly to say it. He told him where he was going to go.
The third aspect, linked to the first two, is trusting the Father in the midst of rejection and suffering. It would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the culture of that time that Jesus was undoubtedly bearded. See what I was talking about before? The N.T. has no physical description of our Savior as he walked the world. The closest thing you’ll get to that is in the Old Testament, not the New. How do we know about the beard? Because the Servant’s tormentors tore it out. The Gospels don’t give us much of a description of the physical brutality of what happened to Jesus, but the prophets (and Psalms) do.
And what was (or from Isaiah’s perspective, will be) the response of the Messiah to this abuse? Trust in the Lord. He didn’t speak a word in his own defense at his trial. Why not? Well, among other reasons, he felt no need to. His Father, at the right time and in the right way, would vindicate him, would prove him right. To all human appearances, Jesus was abandoned by God and was an absolute failure. You don’t get much lower than a naked man hanging on a cross as all his enemies hurl insults at him and mock him publicly. But the time would come when every one of the Messiah’s enemies would realize that he was right and they were so very very very wrong.
So what about us? What can we draw from this? Well, just off the top of my head I can come up with at least two applications. Please read this carefully—I don’t want to be accused of heresy because of a misunderstanding: What Jesus had as a man, I can have and should have, as far as his relationship with the Father is concerned. The incredible intimacy of the Father and Son is supposed to be a model and standard for the Church, so it’s not much of a stretch that that’s supposed to be what I have as an individual believer. Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon him and in him, and that was the means by which the Father led him and guided him. I have the Spirit in me as well, right? The Spirit empowered him--in his life as a man--to follow the Father, right? So what’s the difference between Jesus and me, as far as his humanity goes? That’s a good question. I have a sinful nature, and he didn’t. But is that a worthy excuse? I don’t think so.
Also, this is a great reminder that it’s not really my job to defend myself, especially when it comes to my reputation. Jesus was falsely accused and physically abused over and over and over and over. He steadfastly refused to defend his own “honor.” He left that up to the Father. Because he knew that in the end it would be worth it all. Have I learned that yet?
Lord Jesus, I am so quick to defend myself. How’s about I let you do that for me? I’ll concentrate on what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll let you concern yourself with what you’ve promised. Sounds like a plan to me.