Summary: Introducing the Lord’s Servant 1) Look at what he will do 2) Look at how he will do it
If you ever played varsity sports, you know how exciting it is to be introduced to the crowd before the game. My heart pounded both times I got to start a basketball game. As our teammates formed a tunnel leading out to the center of the floor, the four other starters and I sat on the bench waiting to be introduced. As the pep band played the announcer said: “And now introducing your Northwestern Prep Hornets. At guard, a 5’ 10” senior from Tokyo, Japan, Daniel Habben!” When your name was called you ran through the tunnel slapping high fives on your way out to the middle of the floor trying to look cool as the crowd cheered.
Although Jesus didn’t slap high fives as he ran through a tunnel of his disciples, his introduction to the world as the Lord’s Servant was more dramatic than any other pre-game introduction ever conducted. This introduction took place at Jesus’ baptism. As Jesus came out of the Jordan River the heavens tore open, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, and God the Father announced: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17b). While the Gospel lesson described this awesome introduction, it’s the Old Testament lesson that tells us what Jesus had come to do as the Servant of the Lord, and how he would do it. Let’s see what Isaiah has to teach us.
We’ll begin our study by seeing what Jesus came to do as the Lord’s Servant. Our text said that he would come to be “a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6b, 7). It’s a good thing that Jesus came as a light because we dare not get dressed in the dark for Judgment Day. Have you ever tried that - getting dressed in the dark? It’s not a good idea is it because if the coat you thought was tan ends up being pink, and the pants you thought was blue is really green, you’ll look pretty funny at work.
While the results of getting dressed for work in the dark may be funny, it’s no laughing matter to get ready for Judgment Day that way. Without Jesus to tell us how we really look before God, we’d think that we were spiritually handsome. It wouldn’t help to ask each other’s opinion either because if we are all blinded by sin we can’t really know how each other looks. Just try closing your eyes right now and tell me what the person behind you is wearing? Unless you got a good look before church you don’t know what that person is wearing.
So how do we look to God? Well we can’t look that badly can we? No, we may not always be respectful to our teachers, but at least we’re not like those kids who got suspended for doing drugs. No, we’re not always faithful in applying ourselves to our studies but at least we don’t cheat on tests like some of our classmates do. No, we’re not always kind to our siblings but at least we don’t brag about beating them up like our friends do. While we may look good compared to others we’re still not good compared to God. In fact making ourselves look good at the expense of others is evidence of sinful pride in our lives. Jesus came to reveal that sinful pride. He wants us to know that sin condemns us before God.
Jesus of course didn’t just come to reveal our sins. He came to do something about them. In fact that’s the main point of our text. Our text says that Jesus came to release the prisoners from the dungeon (Is. 42:7), that is, he came to free us from the punishment we deserve for our sins. But how did Jesus do this? He didn’t come into this world as God’s SWAT team busting down doors and raising havoc. Instead he traded places with us. He endured God’s sentence for our sins so that we could go free. Our text described Jesus humility this way: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth” (Is. 42:2-4a). Unlike conquerors of this world Jesus went about his business humbly and meekly. He came into hearts not through force but through his quiet Word.
Jesus still operates this way today. He doesn’t bust his way into our lives but comes quietly and meekly through Word and Sacrament and look at how we benefit. Isaiah said that a bruised reed he would not break and a smoldering wick he would not snuff out. Unlike conquering generals who are eager to trample the weak, Jesus comes to prop up the weak. Are you hurting today? Do you think you just can’t go on? Don’t worry. Jesus won’t do anything to put you over the edge. He’s not here to break you but to heal you. Do you feel that your faith is weak and is about to go out? Don’t worry. Jesus won’t let anything come into your life to snuff out that flame. Instead he’s working hard to make your faith burn brightly.