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"Behold My Servant"

"Behold My Servant". The divine proclamation finds its clear focus upon the Messiah. It introduces us to a section of the sacred scriptures which is a prophetic portrayal of the incarnate Son of God in a wonderful unveiling of Himself as the Servant of Jehovah. As we follow through the inspired revelation in Isaiah 42; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-15; 53:1-12, we are left with the conviction that only in the work of the incarnate Christ are the accomplishments of the Servant of Jehovah fulfilled. This conviction stems not only from the fact that the actions and attitudes which these scriptures describe are seen preeminently in the Person of the Christ but also that the New Testament revelation confirms His identity as the Servant of Jehovah (Mat. 12:

15-21).

Spiritually sensitive Christians rejoice in the glory of divine grace which is expressed in the fact that He who is the Word became flesh (John 1:14) and that He who is God became man and that He who is Sovereign of all should become a Servant (Phil. 2:7). Underlying these truths is the condescension which made this possible, described in the expressive phrases, "He emptied Himself" and "He humbled Himself".

The wonder of such truth as this brings us to the contemplation evoked by the words, "Behold My Servant...". The title "My servant" has been applied to others (e.g. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David), but as a title of the Lord Jesus it is unique. None other to whom this description was applied rendered flawless service to Jehovah. No one else could be described as "My chosen" in the incomparable sense in which this term describes the Lord Jesus. In the absolute perfection of His sinless obedience to the will of God He alone is described by Jehovah as the One "in whom My soul delighteth" (Is. 42:1). "I (Jehovah) have put My Spirit (The Holy Spirit) upon Him (The Christ)". Linking this scripture with Isaiah 61:1 and its fulfilment recorded in Luke 4:16-21: we recognize the unity of action of the triune God in the ministry of Jehovah's Servant.

Consistent with the Lord's own words in Mat. 11:29 is the character of His service described in the predictions, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street". No flamboyant self-projection

or strident rhetoric marked the faithful witness of the One who is "meek and lowly in heart". His words were spoken in the power of His anointing as the Servant of whom Jehovah said, "whom I uphold". "He taught them as One having authority and not as their scribes" (Mat. 7:29). That teaching derived nothing from human opinion and at no time was it influenced by popular human concepts. His distinct claim was, "I spake not from Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He hath given Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12: 49, 50). No wonder that as they heard Him men were astonished (Mat. 7:28; 13:54) and that others said of Him "Never man so spake" (John 7:46).

His words of grace were combined with actions of compassion and mercy. How often did He gently deal with human folly and failure. "A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench". A reed represents weakness, and a bruised reed is a figure of weakness made even weaker. Smoking flax suggests that which has the element of its own destruction within itself. The years of His ministry found the Servant of Jehovah with patient grace dealing with sinners, never defiled by their sin, never once condoning evil, but dispensing healing and forgiveness while faithfully warning against the consequences of sin (John 5:14; 8:11).

The delight which Jehovah had in His Servant was expressed at the very

moment of His entry into public ministry at His baptism by John in the Jordan. There; 'the opened heavens, the descending Spirit, together with the voice of the Father, bore witness to the perfection of the Lord Jesus. That witness is eloquent testimony to the character of the Christ as He comes from the seclusion of the early years He spent in Nazareth. Of that time divine revelation gives little detail, but divine approbation expressed in the words "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11) defines the quality of those thirty years of privacy. The brief glimpse we have of the Lord Jesus as a boy twelve years of age brings to us His only recorded words within that period. "Wist ye not that I must be in My Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). Thus we are brought to the first of the recorded imperative utterances of commitment to the will of God spoken by the Saviour.

We can trace the pattern of that commitment, however, within those hidden years by prophetic Messianic utterance. The voice of the Servant of Jehovah is heard speaking of the Lord, "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught (disciples, RVM)" (Is. 50:4). No human voice aroused the Lord Jesus when in the reality of His human nature He sought rest in sleep. Morning by morning the Voice He first heard was that of His God and Father. To that Voice He was not rebellious. The temptations incidental to private life found no answering response in Him. That steadfast obedience was consistently the character of His sojourn here, "I do always the things that are pleasing to Him" (John 8:29).

The life of the Lord Jesus fully portrayed the character of the godly man described in Psalm 1. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful". The influence of the wicked, of sinners and the scornful, has represented hazards from which the godly man will remain apart. The glory of the life of the Lord Jesus is that He was "... holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners..." (Heb. 7:26). How true it was of the Lord Jesus that "His delight is in the law of the Lord". This was clearly demonstrated by His familiarity with and His use of the sacred writings; all in complete harmony with His Messianic declaration, "I delight to do Thy will, 0 My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart" (Ps. 40: 68; Heb. 10:5-7).

Since the devil first spoke the words in Eden - "Hath God said?" he has continued to assail the citadel of the human will by lying deceit in antagonism to the divine word. In tempting the Son of God he couched his language in terms of rebellious challenge of His deity. "If Thou art the Son of God..." (Luke 4:3). Forty days only, had passed since the Father had declared from heaven, "This is My beloved Son". Against that truth Satan hurled his defiant "If", seeking to induce the Lord Jesus to exercise His divine power to satisfy His physical hunger. This subtle attack was upon the loyalty of the Servant of Jehovah to the will of God. Over this and each of the other assaults of the devil the Saviour triumphed by answering "It is written" and applying the truth of Scripture to repulse and conquer the evil one.

The Messianic Psalm 16 quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25), includes the statement "I have set the LORD always before Me:

because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved" (v.8). The Saviour had stooped from sovereignty to servitude in total submission to the will of Jehovah - As the last Adam He triumphed where the first Adam had failed. Man in Eden fell because he wilfully disobeyed. In contrast the Servant of Jehovah rejected every impulse of personal choice which was unrelated to the will of God. His separation to that will was in the power of His resolve: "I have set the LORD always before Me". In the days of His flesh that resolve is echoed in His words "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work" (John 4:34). This single-minded purpose which impelled the Son of God would allow no wrongly based attitudes to deflect Him from obedience to His God. He withdrew from the multitudes motivated by wrong reasons to make Him King (John 6:15). For Him there were no short cuts to the day of His manifest glory; that day will dawn, but for Him it could only be via His cross.

The earth-centred arguments of men invoked no response from Him. Individual conscience is aroused by His words "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Mat. 22:21). He was entirely separate from the politics of His day, answering the challenge of the Pharisees with the direction that human responsibility is to obey civil authority, yet that obedience is governed by loyalty to the divine throne.

A man's apparent appeal for justice was dismissed by His words, "Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you?" (Luke 12:14). The Servant of Jehovah was not here to do that kind of thing, or to arbitrate in questions of material substance an& possessions. Similarly the report concerning Galileans executed by Pilate induced no political comment from the Lord. He rebuked those who sought to discuss the event with Him for their distorted judgement and called on them

to repent for their own sin (Luke 13:1-5).

To a would-be follower the Lord said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" (Luke 9:58). Those words are usually interpreted as indicating the Lord's material impoverishment, but they mean much more than that. He spoke them at a time when "the days were well-nigh come that He should be received up" and they were uttered "as they went in the way" (Luke 9:51,57). Golgotha was approaching, and His words surely mean that no material comforts, no attraction of hearth or home, impeded Him as He moved toward His ultimate and supreme act of obedience.

The earthly life of the Lord Jesus can be summarized by the words "love" and "suffering". His the life that magnified the law and made it honourable (Is. 42:21). His, in manhood, the perfect response to the words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27). "Christ also suffered ... leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). The traces of His steps will never be erased; may they never be obliterated in our hearts and may we ever heed His call, "Follow Me" (John 1:43).