Summary: We must embrace God’s Gentle Servant, we must depend on God’s great power, and we must believe in God’s sure and certain promises if we’re going to find hope in the midst of trouble.
At the elementary school where Becky Barnes teaches in Arizona, they had a problem with students throwing rocks. The principal made an announcement over the intercom warning students that anyone caught throwing rocks would be taken home by him personally. Later that day, during afternoon recess, a teacher admonished a kindergartner for throwing a rock.
“Didn’t you hear what the principal said this morning?!” the teacher said in disbelief.
“Yeah,” replied the lad, grinning from ear to ear. “I get to go home in the principal’s car!” (Becky S. Barnes, Arizona, “Small Talk,” Today’s Christian Woman; www.PreachingToday.com)
That little boy was in trouble, but he still found something to be excited about. He found hope, and that’s what Christmas and the coming of Christ is all about. It’s finding hope in the midst of our troubles.
Jesus, our hope, came to this earth in the midst of troubling times just as it was predicted by the Old Testament prophets. 700 years before Christ, the people of Israel were facing severe judgment from God because of their idolatry. Isaiah, the Prophet, had warned them that the Babylonians would come, destroy their country, and take those who didn’t die as slaves and prisoners. Yet, even as they faced certain judgment and destruction, Isaiah gave them a reason for hope in four “servant songs” that describe the coming of God’s Special Servant to bring deliverance and joy in the midst of trouble.
Isaiah 42:1-4 “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. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (NIV)
That is, even those in the remotest parts of the earth will hope in His rule. Our hope (yes, even here on Washington Island) is found in God’s Gentle Servant who will not stop until he brings justice to the entire earth. So if we want to find hope in the midst of our troubles, we must…
EMBRACE GOD’S GENTLE SERVANT.
We must receive and accept Him into our lives, and we must welcome Him as our Lord and King.
Now, that Servant is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Matthew 12:15-21 makes that very clear. There, Matthew quotes this passage that I just read to you and says this is about Jesus!
Jesus is the One “in whom [God] delights” (vs.1). At his baptism, the heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
God embraces His son! That’s the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “uphold” in verse 1. It literally means to take hold of something or to grasp it. Well, here God is seen holding His Servant – embracing the one He has chosen to bring justice to the world.
And we need to embrace Him too as the One who can make things right in our own lives. He doesn’t shout or raise his voice to establish his authority (vs.2). He is not like many world rulers (or even some parents) who have to scream and yell to get people to pay attention. No! “His authority is in his character more than in His command” (David L. McKenna, The Communicator’s Commentary: Isaiah 40-66, p.436).
He’s quiet and gentle. Verse 3 says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” In other words, He doesn’t eliminate those the world considers useless. He doesn’t destroy the life that is dying out. Instead, he saves it. He restores it.
And He will restore your life if you let Him, if you embrace Him as your Lord. He won’t force Himself on you, no. In your bruised and broken condition, you have to give Him permission to take control of your life if you want to save it.
He is not like most world rulers who have to force their will on people. His is a quiet, gentle strength that simply invites people to trust Him with their lives. Yet in the end that quiet, gentle strength is stronger than any force or army the rulers of this world can muster.
In his book The Faith, Chuck Colson describes the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. D-Day was the largest seaborne landing in history. More than 150,000 U.S. troops were committed to the initial invasion, employing 6,900 vessels, 4,100 landing craft, and 12,000 airplanes. Within two weeks the British deployed an additional 314,547 men, 54,000 vehicles, and 102,000 tons of supplies, while the Americans put ashore an additional 314,504 men, 41,000 vehicles, and 116,000 tons of supplies at Omaha. Ten thousand tons of bombs were dropped on German defenses, with the word given to the French resistance to sabotage key bridges, railway lines, telephone exchanges, and electricity substations.