His servanthood foretold

This devotional is written by Eric Rindal. Eric is from a small American town, likes his film camera and travelling, is a student, and calls London home.

Isaiah 42:1-7

The Servant of the Lord

42 "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. 2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope."

5 This is what God the Lord says-- the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.


Isaiah wrote these verses about 700 years before Jesus's birth. Like many passages in Isaiah, they point to the life of Jesus. The opening verse is also spoken almost verbatim by God after Jesus's baptism: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17).

With this reference to Jesus in mind, the passage continues by capturing the essence of the justice Jesus came to achieve: to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release those in darkness. We see part of the reason Jesus came to earth in his first sermon (Luke 4:18) where he quotes Isaiah 61, part of which says, "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted."

Isaiah notes a uniqueness of this servant who brings justice. A man who doesn't shout, cry out, or raise his voice over others. In classic Jesus form, Jesus pursues justice humbly, through non-violence, and is not discouraged as he establishes a society where things have been set right - where justice reigns. As followers of this servant, we too must actively and humbly pursue justice on an interpersonal, societal and global level. We must begin to unlearn our own prejudices toward "those" who need justice. We must clear space for silenced voices to be heard. And then thoughtfully join the systematically oppressed and chronically marginalized to fight for justice. We often see four groups in the Bible deserving justice: the poor, the foreigner/refugee, widows, and orphans. Some of us may not fall within those groups.

It may be helpful to reframe the groups as: those who lack something vital to life, those who feel dislocated from places or people, those who have experienced deep loss, and others who are abandoned or alone. In so many ways, we are the brokenhearted who need the justice Jesus brings.

We are promised, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." And in this, we know we will be given breath and life by the Creator of the universe.

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