Jesus Christ, the Supreme Servant
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Jesus Christ, the Supreme Servant
Many Christians will be observing the Christian Passover on the evening of April 18 this year. The central focus of that observance is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Yet many others claiming to be Christians do not seem to realize that the apostle Paul commanded Christians to observe Christ's Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:23-28). He tells us that by partaking of the symbols of that ceremony, we "proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (verse 26). Jesus Himself promised that He would observe the Passover with His disciples in the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 26:29).
The New Testament elaborates on many details of His Passover sacrifice. And throughout the Old Testament, many prophecies speak of this greatest of events.
In the book of Isaiah we find many passages about the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Let's focus on four passages from the book of Isaiah that have been called the "servant songs" of the Messiah.
These scriptures reveal the tremendous love Jesus has for the people of the earth. They reveal in detail the willingness He would exhibit in paying the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. They prophesy of the Savior who was to come with compassion and courage. These prophecies also look forward to the time when Jesus Christ will return to rule the entire earth in God's coming Kingdom.
Prophecy of "My Servant"
The first of these four passages is Isaiah 42:1-4. We know that this passage is talking about Christ since it is also quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 as being specifically about Him.
Jesus is here identified as God's Servant, God's elect or chosen One. Verse 1 tells us, "He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." Thus we see that Jesus did not come to save Israel only; His plan is to reach out to all people of all nationalities and racial origin. All will be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as long as they repent of their sins, accept Him in faith, and live as He commands.
Continuing in Isaiah 42:2, we read, "He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets." Jesus did not come as a rabble rouser or political activist. As He was being questioned by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). After questioning Christ, Pilate could say only, "I find no fault in Him at all" (verse 38).
Next, in Isaiah 42:3, we read, "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench." Jesus is compassionate to the meek and humble. He will comfort and rescue those who are bruised and battered or who are burnt out under the strains of this life.
Jesus, as God's servant, "will not fail nor be discouraged" (verse 4). Indeed, at His second coming He will ultimately establish justice and truth all over the earth. At His return, He will establish God's law to the far reaches of the earth.
Contrary to what many believe, Jesus never came to do away with the law of God. Rather, He came to make it more binding, that is, so God's law can be written in our hearts as part of the very fiber of our being (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16). True Christians, upon repentance and acceptance of Christ as Savior and King, will obey God's commandments from the heart (Romans 6:17).
In Isaiah 42:21 we read that part of Christ's purpose in coming is to "exalt the law and make it honorable." This is so different from the false concept many hold that the Ten Commandments are archaic and have been done away.
"The Redeemer of Israel"
The second servant passage about Christ is found in Isaiah 49:7. Here He is referred to as "the Redeemer of Israel." This prophecy foretells that although many would despise Him at His first coming, when the Kingdom of God is established after His return even royal families—kings and princes—will come to worship Him.
Total submission to God's will
In Isaiah 50:4-10, we read the third prophecy, which speaks of the courage of Jesus Christ. It gives insight into how He faced the tremendous trial of torture and crucifixion. He was neither rebellious to His Father's will, nor did He run and hide.
After fervent prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed that the Father's will would be done (Matthew 26:42). He went forward to meet His captors (verse 46). He insisted that His apostles be let free (John 18:8).
He could have called for 12 legions (72,000) of angels (Matthew 26:53), but instead He willingly gave His back to those who scourged Him (Matthew 27:26; Isaiah 50:6). Because of His great love for humankind, He even allowed evil men to spit in His face (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30).
Isaiah 50:7-8 says that Jesus Christ would not be disgraced nor ashamed. Even though He was to suffer a cruel death, ultimately He would be crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9). In the coming Kingdom of God, all people will worship the One who saved them from their sins.
Detailed prophecies of Christ's suffering
In the longest servant passage of Isaiah (Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12), we read prophecies of His suffering—all for the purpose of washing away our sins.
In Isaiah 52:14 we read that His physical appearance "was marred more than any man." In verse 15 we read that many nations and kings will be shocked, dismayed and brought to repentance when they, too, realize that it was their sins—along with yours and mine—that made it necessary for Jesus Christ to be nailed to the cross.
In Isaiah 53:2, we read that Jesus had no special form or appearance, "no beauty or majesty to attract us to him" (New International Version). Even though the common perception of Jesus is a man in white, flowing robes with a piercing stare, Scripture shows that He looked like an ordinary
Jewish man of His day.
Verse 4 foretold that Jesus would bear our griefs and sorrows—the pains, heartbreaks, discouragement and sicknesses we all face in life. Ultimately, our Savior came to heal us of every malady—spiritual, physical and emotional wounds!
Verses 5-6 state that He was willing to be beaten and disfigured by the Roman scourging because it was the will of God to lay on His shoulders "the iniquity of us all."
Verses 7-9 reveal that the Lamb of God was led to the slaughter (by means of an unfair and hastily assembled court) to pay for the transgression of God's people. Finally, Isaiah 53 promises that God's righteous Servant would justify (deliver from sin) those who will turn to Him (verse 11).
Our coming King of Kings
When Jesus came to earth the first time, He came as a willing servant to pay for the sins of humanity. We must also keep in mind that He is coming again soon, this time as the world-ruling " King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). In His coming Kingdom, every knee will bow before Him (Philippians 2:9-11).
At the present time God is calling many to become a part of His spiritual household, though only few will respond (Matthew 22:14). He may very well be calling you to repentance, faith, baptism and an ongoing spiritual relationship—as well as to have an important part in the coming Kingdom.
If you believe you are being called, we urge you to heed this precious call and respond now to the mercies of the One who suffered and died for you. Do not postpone what will be the most important decision of your life!
If you would like a minister to assist you in learning more about this life-changing experience, contact the regional office of the United Church of God nearest you. Or you may contact us online at www.ucg.org. May Almighty God bless you as you seek Him in this most vital of all endeavors. GN