by Elaine Pierce
Do you ever wish you had servants? It's such an old-fashioned word, isn't it? I think of the Masterpiece Theater series, "Upstairs Downstairs," or the more recent "Downton Abbey" as classic portrayals of servants. They must obey their employers without question or they face certain dismissal. Their tasks are repetitive and often physically exhausting. They know the dark secrets of the rich, but if they reveal them they will be ruined. They have no voice, no authority, no opportunity for advancement. They will never trade places with the landed gentry. To be a servant is not on anyone's list of career goals.
Take a look at verse 42 in today's passage: "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." Not the kind of servant I was picturing at all. In Isaiah's time, a king's servant stood in a position of great importance. As Christians, we read this passage and we say, of course, this servant is Jesus! Isaiah's listeners must have wondered who Isaiah was talking about, but they had to take comfort from the description of this servant. Take a look at his character and what he will accomplish:
He will bring forth justice (v. 3)
He will not be discouraged (v. 4)
He will establish justice on earth (v. 4)
And who is saying this about the servant? The God of the heavens! The One who created the heavens. The One who is a light to the gentiles - that's us! The One who will open the eyes of the blind and free captives from prison.
Isaiah was writing to a people in captivity. They were in bondage to the cruel Assyrians, and the world looked bleak and dreary. But Isaiah knew that the light was coming. And in verse 9, he gives the people hope for a future they may not see for many years, but one that we know is coming:
"See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."
Thanks be to God that he sent his servant to deliver us.
Dear Lord, you came to earth as as baby, helpless and without power. Thank you for the gift of life and hope. As we wait for your birth, help us to ponder anew what it means to follow you. Amen.