God’s Delightful Servant

Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.”

Jesus is a King, but that is not what the Lord calls him here. He is the Conqueror of sin, and Satan, and death, but that’s not the way he’s introduced, either. He is a Lawgiver and a Judge and many other things. He holds unsurpassed power and authority, but Isaiah says, “Here is my servant.” Here is the one the Lord chose to serve you. Jesus fully agreed with this when he told his disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It’s not that Jesus lacks power and authority and leadership, but that is not the place to start. Before he became a teacher at our seminary, one professor was the pastor of a multi-cultural congregation in the inner city. At his first meeting with the church council, he invited the men to talk about their ideas for his ministry, and to share any questions or concerns they might have for this white pastor leading a black congregation. After talking about a number of things, one wise old leader at the meeting said, “I have only one question for you: will you love us? Are you going to serve us?”

What we need are those who serve. Sometimes we might think that we want our Savior to be all about fury, death, and damnation. We get so full of zeal for morality and holiness that we want him to come in wrath and power. We want him to cleanse all the filth and all the degenerate producers of that filth away. We think that way because we are just arrogant enough to think that we stand above it all, and we could survive the cleansing fire on our own. There will be a time and place for judgment. But God grant that we aren’t so dull that we approach that day with nothing but our own tote bag of good works and accomplishments, or we will be burned up with the rest.

Jesus did not come to scare you, or to damn you. Here is the One the Lord chose to serve you. He is going to save you. And he has the qualifications to do so.

The Lord calls this servant, “…my chosen one in whom I delight.” Isn’t that the same thing the Father said about Jesus at his baptism? “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” On a thousand fields and courts spread across the country you can find proud papas pleased with the sporting skills their sons display.

But these words here aren’t about skills. The Father isn’t pleased that his Son is competent (though he is in every way). He is pleased that his Son is good: loving, honest, kind, decent, faithful, sober, obedient, self-controlled. Here already he is serving you and me, keeping the commandments we broke, and keeping them perfectly. He does it to repair our tarnished record, to restore our lost credit.

You see, because Jesus pleased his Father, when God pulls the file with your name on it, and looks inside the folder, Jesus’ perfection has completely replaced every record of our crimes. He was not only his Father’s servant. He made himself ours. And his service gives us every reason to delight in him as well.

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