The Person of Christ - 13 - The Perfect Servant Character of Christ

Chapter 13 - The Perfect Servant Character of Christ
As Seen in Isaiah
Albert McShane

 

Whenever we think of God’s perfect Servant our minds invariably turn to Mark’s Gospel, for most are agreed that this is its major theme. We must not, however, overlook the fact that the Prophet Isaiah, in the latter part of His prophecy, deals extensively with the same subject. There are therefore, some close links between this Gospel and those passages in Isaiah which speak of the One Who the Lord calls “My Servant,” but we will not stay to point these out. The reason why these two writers were chosen to write on this topic is not stated. Possibly their own service had something to do with their being selected for this work.

 

Some difficulty arises in Isaiah when the words, “My Servant” are used, for at times they refer to Israel, and to that people alone. In other passages they are applied to the Messiah - Christ, and to Him alone, while in some others they may have a double application, referring both to the Nation and to the One Who was the True Israel, Who fulfilled all that the Nation was expected to be, as God’s Servant.

 

There will always be wonder iii our minds when we think of one Person of the Godhead being the Servant of another in the same Godhead. Were it not that Paul tells us that He, “Being in the form of God ... took upon Him the form of a Servant,” we would hesitate to entertain such a thought. In full agreement with the will and purpose of His Father, and in deepest sympathy for fallen man, He laid aside His outward glory and majesty, yea, gave up all He could give up, and entered into His service, fully aware that it would entail obedience unto death. While here on earth as He ministered to men, He could say, “I am among you as one that serveth,” yet He was never the bond-slave of man. This relationship was to God alone.

 

The first great passage in Isaiah that refers to Christ as God’s Servant is ch. 42:1-9. In these verses He is declared to be God’s chosen instrument for service, and we are shown the features of His character, and the far reaching consequences of His service. The introductory words, “Behold My Servant” indicate that the Lord desires that we share His thoughts regarding Him. Right away, we are told that in His service He would be upheld by the One Who had chosen Him. There could, therefore, be no failure on the one hand, nor independence on the other. Later, it is said that His hand would be held by the Lord, and that He would be kept by His power. Little wonder that He was the delight of the heart of His God. God loves to be trusted, and this dependent One gave Him all He desired in this respect. Though He were Divine, yet all His work was done in the power of the Spirit, Who was given without measure unto Him.

Coupled with this total dependence upon God was His meek and lowly manner of life. While other great men come into prominence with much fanfare and noise, Isaiah says, “He shall not cry nor cause His voice to be heard.” Neither will He come with violence for the weakest will have nothing to fear from Him (Isa. 42:2-3).

 

The outcome of His service is clearly declared in this passage. Firstly, He will bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, thus establishing righteousness among the heathen; secondly, He will set His law even in the most remote islands; thirdly, He will ratify a covenant with Israel; fourthly, He will remove the blindness and darkness from the sons of men; and lastly, He will free the prisoners from their dungeons. In this vast work He will not fail, for unlike many who can see what should be done and cannot perform it, He, with unlimited power, will never rest until all is finished.

 

The second greatest chapter relating to the Perfect Servant is Isaiah 49. Here He Himself is the speaker, and He tells of His call to service from birth, and of His fitness for the work. Like a sword in the hand of a warrior, and like a polished shaft in the quiver of an archer, He was in the Lord’s hand and would not miss the mark when used. In spite of His fitness and the promises given to Him, the very purpose for which He came regarding Israel seemed to have failed. The Nation was not gathered at His first coming, so it looked as though He had laboured in vain. But the chapter goes on to show that not only will Israel be gathered until there is no room for them, but the Gentiles that had scattered them will be foremost in helping them back to their land and their long lost heritage. Thus the Servant’s work for Israel will have a glorious finish.

 

The precious verses of Ch. 50:4-9 have often been enjoyed by the saints as they have listened to the personal testimony of the Perfect Servant. He here speaks of Himself as the “learned” or taught One. Like all true servants He has an ear for His Master’s words. As each morning broke, it was His joy to listen for the instructions for the day. By so doing, He was equipped with the words that would be needed to help the weary souls that He would meet. Even when the instructions received showed that He must suffer, there was no rebellion nor shirking of the guidance given. This entailed the shameful treatment from the hands of men, the lashing of His back and the plucking of the hairs from His face. Coupled with His humble submission to suffering was His bold determination to fulfil His course, so it is said by Him, “I set my face like a flint... I shall not be ashamed.”

 

No one could doubt that service rendered by such a Perfect One would be fully rewarded. We are not surprised that it is prophesied concerning Him, “He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isa. 52:13). However this exaltation could not be His until He had passed through the deepest suffering ever known on earth - the bearing of the stroke of Divine wrath on account of sin. If nations are to be sprinkled, sick souls healed, and guilty sinners justified, this could only come about by His bearing their iniquities. Here is His greatest work and the foundation of all the hopes for the future. From it He will see of the travail (toil) of His soul and be satisfied, and because of it, God can righteously pardon the guilty, yea, even restore nature itself back to its pristine glory.

 

Without attempting to deal with this grand passage (Isa.52: 13 to 53:12) in detail, we should notice that it divides into five sections of three verses each. The first one gives us in a condensed form, the substance of the next twelve; the second has the rejection of Christ by the nation of Israel as its theme; the third, His atoning sufferings; the fourth, His unjust trial by men; and the last, the blessed outcome of His sufferings. In v.10 we are told what He will do for God, “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand;” in v.11, what He Himself will, “He shall be satisfied,” and in v.12, the portion of His followers, “He shall divide the spoil with the strong.”

Not until righteousness covers the earth as the waters cover the sea will the work of God’s Perfect Servant be completed. The closing chapters of Isaiah make plain that this will not be achieved without God’s vengeance being executed upon His enemies. If Christ’s first coming brought with it “The acceptable year of the Lord,” His second coming will bring “The day of vengeance of our God” (Ch. 61:2). The Lamb led to the slaughter will gird on His sword and act as a Lion among His foes. In this, the final service for God, He will be alone, as He tells us, ‘1 have trodden the winepress alone” (Ch. 63:3), and again, “I looked and there was none to help” (v.5). He will need no human aid to destroy the armies in and around Jerusalem, and then alone He will proceed to the land of Edom to deal with the King of the North and his confederates.

“The rest of a labouring man is sweet.” The Perfect Servant, fully rewarded for His service, will delight His heart in the fruit of His toil, and in the realization that all He was

expected to do has been done to the complete satisfaction of His God.