Lent 1 Midweek
The Servant’s Righteousness
Trinity Lutheran Church–New Haven, MO
In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[Behold] My Servant Whom I support; says the Lord God, I have chosen Him, and I delight in Him (v 1a AAT). Isaiah sings of a Servant who does what no servant of God had ever done before—or will ever do again. He is a unique Servant, specially chosen by God for a peculiar work. Israel, God’s chosen people had failed to produce the service God required; they were constantly turning to idols who have no power, worshiping creatures instead of the Creator.
But this Servant would be different. He is the delight of the Lord God. He is a unique Servant—He dutifully serves God in willing obedience, while at the same time is the personal agent by whom God serves His creation. Ever other person, no matter how pious his works appear, ultimately serves himself, but this Servant, the One whom God supports,
God’s Servant Serves Righteousness
I put My Spirit on Him. He will bring righteousness to the nations (v 1b AAT). This Servant is distinguished from other servants of God by the Spirit that is upon Him. Not that He is possessed by a spirit—which He was accused of—but that He bears a special office. He is set apart for a holy task given to Him by His Father in heaven.
This prophetic song is fulfilled when Jesus steps out of the Jordan, baptismal water still dripping from His head, and the Spirit of God descends on Him like a dove. He accepts this title, this office of God’s Servant, and the Father speaks from heaven as the Spirit rests upon Him, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mt 3:17).
Jesus has the Holy Spirit, not according to His person—He is holy of Himself and does not need the sanctifying work of the Spirit—but according to His office. He has been anointed to preach Good News. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me because the LORD anointed Me to tell good news to those who are suffering, says the Lord through the pen of Isaiah (Is 61:1). The Servant serves God by preaching, but even more so, He serves His hearers with Good News. He is the Servant of the suffering, the poor, the brokenhearted, the oppressed. You’ve heard it said that God helps those who help themselves, but there has not been a worse or more heretical statement ever said. This Servant helps those who cannot help themselves.
He will not cry or raise His voice or call out loud in the street. He will not break off a broken reed or put out a dimly burning wick: for truth He will bring justice. He will not fail or break down until He has set up justice in the world. The lands by the sea are waiting for Him to teach them (vv 2-4 AAT). This Servant is defined as much by what He will not do as by what He will do. He will not cry out or raise His voice or call out loud in the street. When Christ Jesus stands before His accusers, He remains silent. Like a Lamb led to the slaughter. When He bears His cross down the Way of Sorrows, He doesn’t raise His voice. Only as the blood trickles from His precious wounds, suspended up above the earth, does He speak. It is finished. And He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (Jn 19:30). He is anointed by the Spirit to preach, and we preach Christ crucified. And by that cross, He brings righteousness to all nations.
It would appear that the Lord God is a cruel God, consumed with bloodlust and a twisted sense of justice, to find such pleasure in sending His Son to suffer and die such a horrible death. But it’s not the death that pleases God so much as what the death accomplishes.
The LORD God made the heavens and stretched them out. He shaped the earth and what it produces. He gives life to the people who are on it, breath to those walking on it (v 5 AAT). God is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible. His Law isn’t an arbitrary set of expectations that He has laid upon His creation, but it’s woven into creation itself. His Law is how creation works, how it is upheld, how it receives life. But when Adam departed from God’s Law and disobeyed God’s command, he initiated something new—an ugly distortion of God’s creation. When Adam departed from God’s Law, creation ceased to be as God created it to be. By the rebellion that coursed through his veins, passed on to each succeeding generation, all of creation is thrown into chaos. And no longer is God’s Law a means of life, but a means of death.
But God cannot just remove His Law from creation without destroying all of creation. Instead, He sends His Servant to accept the consequences of sin in His own body, to suffer humiliation, scorn, ridicule, beatings, piercings, and finally, death. You think your sins are minor, that you’re not hurting anyone? Look at the cross and see the hurt you’ve caused. Nails. Thorns. Whip. Spear. Shame. Humiliation. This is not God’s good creation.
But the Father’s pleasure isn’t in the old things, which are passing away. His good pleasure is in the new things, the new creation initiated at the end of the old. When Jesus said, It is finished, the old things came to an end. Creation is restored, beginning with Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection. The One who created in the beginning begins a new creation when He takes His first steps out of His tomb carved in stone.
I the LORD have called You for My righteous purpose. I will take hold of Your hand and protect You. I will give You as My Covenant to the people, as My Light to the nations—to give sight to the blind, bring prisoners out of the dungeon and those who live in darkness out of the prison.
I am the LORD; that is My name. I will not give My glory to anyone else nor the praise I deserve to idols. See how My former predictions have come true. Now I’m announcing new things and telling you about them before they spring into being (vv 6-9 AAT).
The new things began with Jesus resurrection, but they certainly do not end there. He is a Light to lighten the Gentiles, a New Testament to all people. Like prisoners emerging from a dungeon, squinting in the sunlight, so Christ brings you with Him out of the old things and into the new. No creature could restore creation—only the Creator who made it in the first place.
God’s Servant serves you with righteousness. By that same preaching office, He continues to announce to you Good News in your suffering. This preaching brings justice to the nations because it sets right what was made wrong by man’s sin and rebellion. And from this justification springs forth a new thing—resurrection and new creation. Our Lord Jesus is stretching out a new heavens and shaping a new earth, and He is giving new life and a new spirit to you who walk upon it.
In + Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rev Jacob Ehrhard