Salvation in Isaiah 42
This sermon this evening is about a very special person.
This special person is not Isaiah the writer of our reading earlier from Isaiah 42.
Neither is he King Cyrus the ruler of the Medes and Persians, who was God’s instrument to repatriate the Jews from 70 years enslavement in Babylon. He was referred to last week in Isaiah 41 as the righteous man.
This special person is not a representation of the nation of Israel as some have suggested.
No – this special person is the Messiah – the sent one the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah does not use His name.
But listen to Matthew’s words in Matthew 12 Jesus had just healed a man with a withered hand, in a synagogue, on the Sabbath day.
14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. 15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 And charged them that they should not make him known: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
This is the familiar quotation from Isaiah 42. Matthew outlines here the mission of God’s servant as He is called.
Verse 1 – 9 of Isaiah 42 predicts the Mission of Christ and shows us quite clearly that only Jesus of Nazareth fulfils the details of this description; only He fulfilled the assignment; only He is the instrument of Israel’s restoration and redemption; only He is a light to the Gentiles; and only He could and can establish justice on earth. From this passage we will think this evening about
Jesus the Messiah – Jehovah’s Servant.
1. Jesus is the Servant whom God upholds. 2. Jesus is the chosen, elect one who is a delight to His Father. 3. Jesus shall bring justice to the Gentiles. 4. Jesus shall not be a noisy servant. 5. Jesus shall strengthen the weak. 6. Jesus will bring the truth. 7. Jesus will succeed in His Mission – to save sinners.
1. Jesus is the Servant whom God upholds.v1
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold;
A servant is someone who does something for you. A servant does work for you. A servant serves you. Long gone are the days when middle class and upper class families had servants to attend to the domestic household chores – cooking and cleaning, lighting the fires, washing the clothes – shopping and serving the meals – washing up and all the other things that servants did.
How is the Messiah a servant?
1. He serves God. He serves His Father and came to earth to do the work of salvation. He served the purposes of the Sovereign creator in His person as mediator and saviour.
2. Yet He is no slave or below stairs scullery maid kind of servant. The Messiah is a noble servant – because He is entrusted with a high and noble position. He came to do a service that no one else in the universe could do. No angel could do what Jesus did. No man could do what Jesus did – no man that is who was born in sin.
His service was a sacrificial service – a redeeming service.
And the Lord God upholds his servant. He treats him well – unlike many masters in domestic houses. His servant is His son. There is a special relationship between the father and the son. The word ‘uphold’ means sustain. Therefore the Lord God, the Father, promises to sustain Him while he is in the world in a man’s body.
And how the Lord God sustained His son! In the desert, angels ministered to him. As He prayed, His father spoke with him and helped him. On the cross, abandoned though He was, yet was He sustained right through to the end – when death came – for into God’s hands He commended His spirit.
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold;
2. Jesus is the chosen, elect one who is a delight to His Father.
mine elect, in whom my soul delighted; I have put my spirit upon him:
The messiah did not thrust Himself into this service – He was called and chosen as the One most suitable to go for Him. In the covenant of grace there was the appeal. And with much poetic licence Isaiah the prophet speaks in chapter 6 v 8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Jesus shows His willingness to go as a servant to die!
What a joy it is when a son delights his father! And God the heavenly Father had a delight in the Lord Jesus Christ the son from eternity –
Proverbs 8 v 22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
In Matthew 3 the Father speaks of His delight –
v 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
This at His baptism – but then the same at His transfiguration –
Matthew 17 v 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
God the Father loved God the Son – the Son gave His life for the sheep. No wonder the Father delighted in Him. Furthermore God’s Spirit was upon Him – He was empowered with all the power of the Godhead in Himself as a man.
3. Jesus shall bring justice to the Gentiles.
he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Jesus Christ is described as a light to lighten the Gentiles. In other words His work would be to set up a Gospel Kingdom that would enable all men from every nation to come and to receive the blessings of God’s love. Up until then only the Jews had benefited from salvation. Now salvation was for all. With the coming of the saviour the Messiah the benefits of eternal life were offered to all men and women regardless of their nationality. The rule of this Kingdom will be based on the character of its sovereign. What is the sovereign like? He is fair and just and he is righteous. This characterises His Kingdom rule!
4. Jesus shall not be a noisy servant.v2
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
Within a few months from now the American people will be in the midst of their presidential election. What excitement there is during these elections! What noise and loud commotions there are. What parties and what huge rallies are held to gain support. It seems that the candidate who can shout loudest or make most stir in the country gets heard and elected!
How different was the leader of the most influential movement in the whole of man’s history – the Lord Jesus Christ – the servant!
When He came he rejected sensationalism; he avoided controversy for its own sake; he refused to engage in boisterous harangue; he never raised a rabble of people to follow him by force; neither did He ever stir up anyone to a noisy demonstration in the streets against the injustices of His time. He was completely different in this respect from others. There was no trumpet to herald his way when he came to town. There were no civic receptions. When he met opposition he refused to get into a fight – he patiently endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.
Instead He presented the truth of the Gospel as the conquering power over men’s souls. The truth of God’s love for sinners had the power to transform men all on its own! In Him the prediction of the psalmist came true –
Psalm 110 v 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
His kingdom is not carnal but spiritual – which is why He is yet so misunderstood. Men love might rather than right!
5. Jesus shall strengthen the weak. v3a
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench:
When Jesus came He found many lives that were bruised and battered by sin; he found many who were barely alive. Instead of breaking and casting aside these useless lives, this tender saviour, this kind servant, strengthened and cared for them. He was ready to lift them up and straighten them out. Instead of quenching and snuffing out the smoking wick of a dimly burning lamp extinguishing its barely flickering flame – this servant will add oil, protect the flame and fan it into a glowing vibrant light. Life will be precious in this servant’s sight. How gracious the Lord Jesus is to those who have genuine grace. Even though they are weak He accepts their willingness to believe. He forgives the sinner in such a tender way.
6. Jesus will bring the truth.
he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
The chosen servant came to bear witness unto the truth and he came to reign over a kingdom based on truth – At the end of His life the Lord Jesus Christ was brought before Pilate.
John 18 v 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
What a statement is this –
To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Truth presented in humility was the controlling and guiding power in the Lord’s work – and His life demonstrated it in a meek and lowly spirit. Are we meek and careful in our proclamation of the truth of this Gospel? We do not need aggressive rallies to stir people up to believe. The truth speaks for itself when it is proclaimed by those who believe it!
7. Jesus will succeed in His Mission – to save sinners.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Although the servant will face many seemingly impossible obstacles and severely trying problems in his work – yet He will not succumb. Unlike those who he came to redeem – he will be free from weakness. He will accomplish His task. He will set justice. He will set up a righteous government on the earth. In contrast to Israel the servant – he will not fail!
Think of the obstacles faced by the man Jesus Christ.
Even before he was born Satan sought to cut off His family tree – and he nearly succeeded.
In his childhood he was pursued by a jealous king – Herod – another agent of Satan.
At the beginning of His ministry he was tempted sorely by the devil – but succeeded in resisting him.
Many times were there attempts to physically abuse and murder Him – but each time He was successful in quietly and firmly resisting – saying – ‘My time is not yet’.
And when it came to the sufferings and passion, the garden and humiliation of arrest, scourging and calvary – he succeeded – he did not fail!
His whole life was planned with a clear ambition to glorify God in the salvation of elect sinners!
What a servant! What a saviour! What an obedient son!
When we think of the Lord Jesus Christ like this how do we react? What is our response? Listen to more of Isaiah’s prophecy -
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
The creator God who gives us our breath and the very life we live has called a people to believe in His son. To do this He needed to open their blind eyes and release those bound in the prison of their own sin and rebellion.
Becoming a Christian is here likened to release from prison of blind prisoners. First the prisoners need to have their eyes opened to see their deliverer.
And He reveals Himself to them. I am the Lord He says. I am your deliverer and your only hope.
My friend – outside of the Lord Jesus Christ you are locked in a prison. You are not free to enjoy the blessings of salvation and the promise of eternal life.
You are bound to continue in sin. You are not able to help yourself. Sin is part of the fabric of your nature. You may not feel that it is a bad thing. Indeed sin is enjoyable – yet it has a cost – and the cost is almost unthinkable – eternal spiritual death and an eternal existence of unbelievable suffering in hell! What a prison to be in! What absence of hope that there will ever be a release – unless the servant, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to get you out!
My friend He is able to do it! That is precisely why he came – and all of the characteristics mentioned tonight qualify Him to be your saviour!
He knows how to deliver sinners from prison.
Do you want to be delivered my friend? Have you heard His voice calling you? Have you any glimmer of light in your blind spiritual eyes yet to see this wonderful redeemer and rescuer?
Further on in Isaiah we find this famous verse Isaiah 45 v 22
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Jesus came to open blind eyes – so that they may look to Him. It may be that he has opened your eyes already – now you need to look.
Faith is the conviction in the soul that the Gospel messaged is true – Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died that we might be forgiven.
But saving faith is also commitment to Jesus Christ – to follow Him with the whole heart and life. And in that commitment there is the element of repentance – repent and believe! The Servant whom God upholds calls you to repent tonight and turn to Him for salvation. Hear Him and see Him tonight – and trust Him with all of your heart!