Summary: Expounding on Isaiah 42: 1 - 10 - the character of the Suffering Servant. Christmas is over, now what? Or even, so what? What was the character of the young Jesus really like? What new thing will God do in our lives this year?
Isaiah 42: 1—10 Sermon notes
Christmas is over and for many it is a time of recovery from the pressures of celebration, from the trials of family, from the financial expense of the 'Retail spirit of Christmas'.
Instead of being tall upstanding oak trees, deeply rooted in the words of scripture, perhaps we feel this morning more like bruised reeds.
Instead of torches, burning with the fire of the spirit, perhaps we feel like small candles about to be snuffed out. Instead of the righteous, standing quietly, humbly, and sinless, before the King of heaven, perhaps we feel wronged, oppressed, tainted by evil, and crushed.
That’s okay. We are allowed to feel like that.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
This is the servant that Isaiah is talking about in the passage that is before us today. And in a bit we will return to these feelings.
The Boy Jesus
The Nativity is over, the baby is born, the shepherds have given their sacrifice, and the Wise men have visited and left their gifts.
Now what? Or for those indulging in the 'Retail spirit of Christmas', int the sales – So What?
What has happened to Jesus in the years between his birth and age thirty? What some call the lost years. There have been all sorts of suggestions.
In the middle ages there appeared several ‘Childhood gospels’, attempts to imagine what a child growing up with the awesome power of miracles would be like – they tend to have a high ‘body count’ - a lot of killing and resurrecting.
But Jesus was both fully human and fully God, he performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. And scripture tells us the Spirit did not descend upon Him until he started his ministry, when he was baptised by John the Baptist in his thirties. So forget about a precocious kid with immense powers, killing by accident and resurrecting. Other people imagine he went travelling to gain wisdom: to Rome, to India, Persia, Britain, or Tibet, even America, or Japan – all these places have traditions that Jesus came to learn from their traditions and religions.
There are a few things we do know know for certain about the early life of Jesus, from the Gospels:
1. At twelve he was sufficiently immersed in the scriptures to be able to debate their meaning with priests and experts in the law. And considered this to be his Father’s business.
2. He followed in the family business and became a carpenter. Presumably providing for the family after Joseph died.
3. He was well respected within his community.
Basically, the young Jesus did what every other child does: develope His God given character, gaine knowledge of who he is (in His case through scripture), gain wisdom, and learn how to live and deal with other people.
Israel had tried being ruled by Judges, prophets, kings, and priests. Jesus was all these things: Judge, prophet, king and priest, so it is no accident that he starts his ministry at 30, which is the age an Israelite could become a priest.
Illustration: Have you ever met one of those annoying people who, when something happens, says, "I knew that was going to happen", or when someone phones, says, "I was just thinking about them." What is so annoying about them is that you can never verify what they were thinking, because they never tell you in advance.
Well God is not like that. God tells us in advance what He is going to do. The prophets aren’t magically predicting an uncertain future, they are being used by God to speak out his promises, anticipating what he is going to do, so when these events happen we know they are God’s works, not random events.
Context of Isaiah 42: 1 - 10
First, let’s take a brief look at the context of the passage before use this morning. Isaiah is prophesying in the 8th Century BC, The Golden Age of King David and King Solomon is long gone. Israel divided into two kingdoms, but the northern kingdom is already gone swallowed by Assyrian empire. Isaiah predicts the destruction of the second kingdom by Babylonian empire which has swallowed up Assyria. Isaiah’s prophesies anticipate a hope that a remnant will remain and Israel will rise again.
The Babylonians have a policy of forced repatriation or ethnic cleansing so the elite of Israel are taken into exile.
Israel remain in exile for 70 years and after Babylon is swallowed up by the Persian empire, a small number are allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, as Isaiah said they would.
From then, until modern times, the land of Israel mostly remains a conquered land: under the Persians, the Greeks (Alexander the great), the Egyptian, Romans, Byzantines, Islamic Caliphates, the crusaders, the Ottomans, the British & the Palestinians (whom one could argue, from genetics, are the Israelites who have abandoned God).