1Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
In today’s text the prophet Isaiah provides yet another glimpse of the Messiah who is coming. Isaiah tells of the Lord’s great delight in introducing Messiah, his “servant,” to the world. It is this title of “servant” that Jesus would take for himself, and would be his favorite way of thinking about himself and his saving mission. He would be the “servant.”
Time and again Jesus would speak of himself as “servant” and never turn aside from taking the servant’s role, whether it was washing dirty feet or cleansing dirty lives. Jesus would declare that his purpose for coming into the world was “not be be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Isaiah informs us that for the servant’s saving mission the Lord would place his “spirit upon him.” This means that from the time that Jesus was conceived by the Spirit in Mary’s virgin womb to his ascension into heaven, the servant lived his life in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament Hebrew title, Messiah, and the New Testament Greek title, Christos, both mean “one anointed by the Spirit.” So Jesus is the Lord’s servant, anointed by the Holy Spirit to carry out the Lord’s mission of bringing salvation to the world.
At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon him “like a dove,” the emblem of gentleness and sacrifice. Thus, anointed and empowered by the very Spirit of God, Jesus went about his saving mission in a gentle life, lived for others. The tender, gracious manner in which the Lord’s servant went about his work is striking – “a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.”
In Isaiah’s day, a “bruised reed” spoke of that person bruised and broken by life. Like a slender reed trampled in the wild marshes of Galilee, so he symbolized that person utterly crushed and broken by life. But like a physician is drawn to the sick, so the Lord’s servant was drawn to the broken. He said that he came to seek and save those who were lost.
The “dimly burning wick” represented the person whose light had gone completely out from his life. Instead of giving forth any light to the community, he only filled it with smoke and dirty soot. While rejected by all, “the dimly burning wick” was sought out and loved by Jesus.
Isaiah said that in the servant’s saving mission he “will not grow faint.” While we are so prone to get discouraged with ourselves and discouraged with others, the servant of the Lord will never be discouraged. He will not give up on us, he will not faint, nor will he fail, until he has “faithfully” brought forth justice to the world.
Reflect on the words of Ambrose of Milan (A. D. 334-397)
In Christ we have everything…
If you want to heal your wound, he is the doctor,
If you are burning with fever, he is the fountain,
If you are in need of help, he is the strength,
If you are in dread of death, he is life.
If you are fleeing the darkness he is light,
If you are hungry, he is food: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy are those who take refuge in him’
Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s scripture text,
Isaiah 42:1-4, and devotional.
Today’s Moments of Diaphany
- an answer to prayer
- evidence of his love and care
- evidence of his creative power and wisdom
- his help to do his work