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God rules the universe as a loving Father and gracious Servant. Isaiah 50-53 reveals this fact as clearly as in any other place in the Old Testament.
Each collection of verses will reveal another aspect of God’s character. Today’s passage will show the listening and obedient character of Servant Jesus.
The Listening Servant
The Servant passages in Isaiah are best interpreted through the lens of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 50.4-5 by always obtaining direction from the Father before taking direction.
The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward. (Isaiah 50.4-5)
Jesus was the world’s best teacher because he was the world’s best listener. His words sustain a weary world because he first received his message from the Father.
The Gospel of John records numerous instances where Jesus described how his decisions were always made in consultation with the Father.
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).
How did Jesus discover the Father’s direction? One way knew the Father’s will was through his practice of meeting with him in prayer.
Mark wrote, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1.35).
When Jesus was confronted with the decision about calling disciples, he knew that a long time with the Father was needed.
Luke recorded Jesus’ practice and wrote, “Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Luke 6.12).
Jesus is the ultimate Servant of the Lord but served the Father to make us servants too. The account of Jesus’ interaction with his close followers applies to us.
Jesus said to his followers, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20.21-23).
As his servants, we have the opportunity to live in his well-being (peace), to experience the Holy Spirit, and to introduce people to God’s forgiving power.
This power is ours as we listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Daily prayer prepares us for guidance from God’s Spirit.
The Obedient Servant
Isaiah prophesied that God’s Servant would be obedient, even when pressed with agonizing suffering.
I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting. (Isaiah 50.5-6)
Jesus spent a night in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying and contemplating the abuse he would receive at his trial and crucifixion. He knew the prophesied message of Isaiah and was well aware of the treatment he was to receive.
Jesus did not turn back on the redemptive process that was his to bear. In every moment of his life, Jesus followed the plan of the Father.
How would the world think about Christians and their God, if we always followed the Father’s direction? What if we made the Sermon on the Mount guidance for daily living?
Jesus is the obedient Servant, but he has commissioned his people to be obedient servants, too.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the ultimate vindication of his life and teaching.
Other men claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, both before and after Jesus. They live in obscurity, tucked neatly away in history books.
Jesus was the Messiah and is recognized around the world as the Savior. His resurrection from the dead set him apart from the pretenders.
Isaiah spoke of the Servant’s vindication with these words.
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me. (Isaiah 50.7-9)
One of my pastor friends in Louisiana turned the other cheek in a fight and got his jaw broken. His willingness to turn the other cheek was not viewed as “soft,” by people who witnessed the fight.
Within a week, his obedience was rewarded. The man who broke his jaw met with him and said, “Tell me how to become a follower of Jesus.”
As we listen and obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will have many instances of how God vindicates our choice to follow the Lord.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.