Summary: How God’s Ancient Announcement Delivers Contemporary Comfort
Well, the roster for the Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team was announced last week. Not surprisingly hockey enthusiasts are debating the selection of athletes. It was a no-brainer of course to include Sydney Crosby on the team, but was it wise to leave off a veteran like Joe Thornton? In anticipation of questions like these the selection committee explained that, to make a run for the gold medal, it picked the “right” players rather than perhaps the “best” players this country has. Come end of February we’ll learn if the selection committee made the right choices.
Long before Tuesday’s introduction of the men’s Olympic hockey team, God made an important announcement of his own. He introduced to the world the one he had picked to be Messiah – that is the one appointed to secure the golden streets of heaven for sinners like us. The Israelites who were the first to hear this particular announcement given through the prophet Isaiah may have had some questions about God’s choice. The Messiah, as described in this announcement, didn’t sound tough enough to accomplish the mission. We know of course that he was. Jesus, the Messiah, is just the Savior we need. Today’s sermon text will help us appreciate that better, for as we take a close look at God’s ancient announcement, “Meet the Messiah!” we’ll see how it delivers contemporary comfort.
The strange thing about this ancient announcement is that God did not reveal the name of the Messiah. He simply called him “my servant” (Isaiah 42:1). Yet we know that God was speaking about Jesus because he said that he would put his Spirit on his servant (Isaiah 42:1). Think of how that happened in a dramatic way at Jesus’ baptism. After the heavens were opened and the Father said about Jesus, “This is my Son whom I love,” the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. It was this mark that assured John the Baptist that Jesus was in fact that promised Messiah (John 1:33).
Filled with the Holy Spirit and having been marked as the Messiah, you would expect Jesus to start his ministry with a bang, like a Sydney Crosby hyped up for the gold medal game and ready to skate through his opponents to secure the victory. But what did Jesus do at the beginning of his mission? He wandered off alone into the wilderness for 40 days where he was continually tempted by Satan with no one to observe the contest except wild animals and the angels (Matthew 4)! Even when Jesus continued his ministry among the people, it was for the most part low key with most of his time spent in small towns. Imagine a breakout artist continuing to play gigs in Morinville and Stony Plain rather than in Toronto and Vancouver where the fame and money is. But this fits the description of the Messiah, for God said through Isaiah: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets” (Isaiah 42:2).
Oh God was not saying that the Messiah would be totally invisible. Jesus made his presence known through the miracles he performed and through his powerful preaching. But through all that it was obvious that the Messiah was not only a servant of God, he was servant of sinners. Listen to how else God described that aspect of Jesus’ ministry. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3a).