Please read Isaiah 49: 1-7 and John 1: 29-34 and then pray; Almighty God, whose Word is sharper than any sword, inspire and strengthen me through your Word to live to your praise and glory. Amen!

The prophet Isaiah wrote 4 separate “Songs” about the Servant of the Lord. (42: 1-9, 49: 1-13, 50: 4-11, 52: 13 – 53: 12) Together they provide extraordinary insights into the ministry, mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus understood himself to be this anointed Servant and the Son of God. The writers of the NT often quoted these Songs under the inspiration of the Spirit because they believed their risen Saviour was the Servant of the Lord whom the prophet Isaiah had magnified.

When the prominent Ethiopian official introduced to us in Acts 8 asks the Christian evangelist who is being spoken of in the Isaiah Scroll which he is reading as he journeys home, Philip the evangelist can explain with conviction “the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8: 34-35). Jesus is the One in Isaiah’s writings, Isaiah’s Songs. Jesus is “the lamb who remained silent.” (Acts 8:33, Is 53:7)

The words read by the Ethiopian official were from Song 4, and they point us to the most comprehensive exposition of the meaning of the death of Jesus contained in the whole of the bible. There is no doubt as to the identity of this suffering Servant. Jesus is the Lord’s Servant. His obedience to God and humble acceptance of his mission to die for others is praiseworthy. In another song or hymn, this time in the NT, the apostle Paul exults in the servant identity and example of Jesus;

Who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

Jesus is the Servant King as well as the saving Son of God. Today we will take a brief look at Isaiah’s Second Servant Song and discover the astounding truth concerning the global impact of the Servant Jesus and His universal saving power and love. You are about to see the worldwide scope of the mission and salvation of the Lord’s Servant. As John the Baptist proclaimed – He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world. Jesus came exclusively to serve and save a lost world.

So, at the beginning of this Song, The Servant himself speaks – but take care to note who He is speaking to. He is addressing and appealing to the whole world, to every nation and island under the sun;

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations.  (J Wesley = the world is my parish!)

This is not a call to the people of Israel – it is a call to everyone made in the image and likeness of God. This is an appeal to listen and to take special note. In the Psalms we often hear a universal call to worship God (Psalm 148: 11-12, Psalm 97:1, Psalm 96:1). In this second Song of Isaiah, the Servant appeals not for worship, but for attention! Everyone needs to listen without exception – such is the importance of the message from the lips of the Servant of the Lord.

The first thing to note about the Servant according to his own testimony is that he was predestined to this calling to be the Servant of the Lord to the entire world. Jeremiah was told that before he was born, he was called by God. (Jeremiah 1:5). The apostle Paul, special apostle to the Gentiles, was likewise called and set apart from birth. (Galatians 1:15) The Servant too was called before he was born and special mention was made of his NAME before he came from the womb of his mother Mary.

It is interesting to note that the name Jesus was given directly both to his mother Mary and to his father Joseph by the angel of the Lord before he was born. (Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21)

You are to give him the name JESUS.

The name was chosen by God because it meant Saviour, Deliverer, Rescuer. He was to be so named because he would save his people from their sins. Special mention was made of his name well before his timely birth in Bethlehem, even before Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the “holy servant” (Acts 4: 27, 30) who was supernaturally conceived, raised up and specially anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism as we saw last week. (Isaiah 42:1) But the calling and the naming of Jesus was set in eternity according to Isaiah’s Second Song.

We next learn from the Servant (v2) that what comes from his mouth will be uniquely powerful, anointed, and authoritative. His mouth will be like a sharpened sword. The words, the holy teaching, the proclamations/prophecies of this Servant will possess a mighty and irresistible cutting authority. The authority of his words will cut through to the depths of the human heart and soul. And as soon as Jesus appears on the scene in Galilee and begins his mission – what is it that stands out above all else? The authority and power of his teaching and deeds. His words cut like a sharp sword.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27)

How is the mouth of the exalted risen Lord described in the Book of Revelation? The apostle John who “fell down at his feet” wrote that “in his right hand he held seven stars and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” (Revelation 1: 16) The words of Jesus hold divine power and cutting authority. This sword-like nature and power of Jesus’ word is also described in Revelation 2:12, 16 and 19:21. The Servant of the Lord will exercise a great and powerful prophetic teaching ministry – which will impact and overturn the world in a totally unique way.

Has this not been true about the teaching of the humble carpenter from Nazareth – Jesus the Christ? Has any teaching ever cut with an authority like this in our world? Almost all agree that the humble Jesus, the One who came to serve and not be served, was the greatest moral and spiritual teacher who has ever set foot upon the earth! Nothing else for example, even comes near to his Sermon on the Mount. When it comes to divine revelation, Jesus is a cut above the rest!

Why is this? It is because Jesus was also the Son of God (John 1:34) as well as Servant of God – and He uniquely reveals and shares the Word of God and with the authority of God. And it cuts! The Word of the Lord is living and active – sharper than any double-edged sword – it penetrates like nothing else can. It divides soul and spirit; it invades joints and marrow; and it accurately judges all the thoughts, attitudes, and secrets of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) The Servant will stand out because of the sharpened sword which comes from his mouth. Have you ever personally felt the cutting edge of Christ’s words and his call to repentance? Have you ever been humbled and slain by the breath of his mouth?

We know from Isaiah’s 3rd Servant Song that the servant’s words will not just cut like a sharp sword, they will also sooth, comfort and heal like a specially prescribed medicine. The 3rd Song fittingly opens;

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. (Isaiah 50:4)

From the lips of Jesus, we have the following promises and many more for weary and humble souls;

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:1-2)

If you have any interest in the greatest healing words ever spoken, and in the most life enriching teaching ever uttered anywhere and at any time, then open your bible and drink in the words of Jesus Christ. Put them into practice and nothing will bring you greater personal transformation, joy, and peace. He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68) and His truth will set you free! (John 8:32)

The Servant also reveals that he is like a polished arrow which for now has been hidden in the quiver of God. As we reflect both on biblical history and the biblical message, we come to understand that for many centuries the mystery of the gospel concerning Jesus lay hidden “in God.” Paul speaks of the truth being concealed until the time of God’s choosing – until the time God chose to take the special polished arrow from His quiver and fire it into the world. When the fullness of time came, God sent his own Son, born of a woman, born under the law into this world to save us and adopt us. (Galatians 4:4) The arrow was fired. The Son was sent. Once hidden in God– but now sent forth into the world like a gleaming arrow.

Although I am less that the least of all God’s people, this grace was given: to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (Ephesians 3:8-9)

Now the gospel has been fully disclosed and clearly revealed in Jesus, and by his life, atoning death, and resurrection. No longer hidden, the glorious good news can now be taken to all nations, to the ends of the earth by the Church. The light must not be hidden; it must now be boldly placed on a stand for all to see. Jesus must be fearlessly proclaimed to all creation, every nation. (Matthew 28: 19, Acts 1:8) The Servant came for the world and not just for Israel. The evangelism to all nations must move forward full steam ahead, until He comes again, until the time when the arrow is fired into the world by Father a second time – but this time targeted for judgment.

The Servant is also told that He is the Israel in whom God’s splendour and glory will be manifested to all. Epiphany! This Servant is the person who will embody all that the nation Israel was meant to embody (a faithful son), but who failed and who were now in exile because of their unfaithfulness. This Servant would be the perfectly obedient Son, and he would amongst other things bring Israel back to be reconciled with God himself. (v5) This true Israel (Jesus) would bring the beleaguered nation (Israel) back into God’s presence and blessing of salvation and shalom.

And yet this did not seem to be the case when Jesus came to his own people. The Servant speaks about “having laboured to seemingly no purpose and having spent his strength for nothing.” We know that Jesus faced much rejection from his own people. The apostle John writes that “his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). And the words of Isaiah’s fourth and final song spell this out even more plainly;

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  (Isaiah 53:3)

Jesus was outrightly rejected. He was crucified. But as the Servant Song rings out – God did not abandon or reject his Servant/Son – but rather vindicated him and rewarded him through His glorious resurrection and triumphant ascension. God gave him the name that is above all names. The Servant’s reward was with God. (Isaiah 49:4b). The Father raised and exalted his obedient Son and Servant. Jesus was honoured in the “eyes of the Lord” (v5) and received strength and glory from God. (v5b) As Peter so boldly preached on the Day of Pentecost;

Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this; God has made this Jesus, who you crucified, both Lord and Christ!” (Acts 2:36)

And weeks later he courageously declared to the Jewish authorities;

It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from dead, that this man stands before you healed. He (Jesus) is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4: 10-12). Therefore, all nations must listen to the Servant of the Lord!

Finally, we come to the point in the first half of this Second Servant Song where the speaker changes. The Servant as it were, hands over to the God whom he serves – The Redeemer and Holy One of Israel. God now speaks.  (v7) It is now when we see the worldwide mission of the Servant – for he has been given not one, but two great tasks by God. One task is not enough. He has been assigned a much bigger and broader task. The two tasks form one unified mission of salvation for the entire world. The two tasks for the Servant are;

  • To restore (ethnic) Israel and bring back the remnant to God. (6a) (Study Romans 9-11 for more details). Keep your eyes on Israel and the increasing number of returning Jews today. Tiny but powerful/influential nation at the centre of the globe and never out of the news.
  • To be a light for the Gentiles – for all non-Jews, so that salvation may go to the very ends of the earth. (6b) The Servant still calls out to the entire world, to every nation and island.

Jesus will ultimately ensure (through his sent-out servants/Church who carry His Word/Sword in the power of the Spirit) that the gospel, the light of Christ is taken to all nations, all peoples. Jesus is the Light of the world – the entire world. God so loved the world that he gave His Son and Servant to die for it. It was always God’s intention and plan to offer salvation and light to the whole world. Abraham was promised that all nations would be blessed through him – and they will be. The Servant/Messiah would emerge out of Israel not just to rescue Israel but to offer salvation to the whole world. Heavens population will be very diverse indeed, for Christ unites all people groups through his saving love and reconciling forgiveness. (Revelation 5: 9-10) This is the only Servant who can do this work of harmonising and uniting all of God’s creation. He alone is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And that is precisely what has happened. From the Day of Pentecost when Jesus baptised that tiny number of disciples with the Spirit and with fire, the gospel started to be taken to the whole world. Two thousand years later and the task is nearing completion. Virtually all nations and peoples have had the gospel taken to them – almost all have the bible, certainly the NT in their own language. The Church stands at about 2.5 billion now and daily increases in number – but like their Saviour – the message is often spurned and rejected. God’s people suffer persecution for Christ’s sake as they endeavour to share the light. Darkness seeks to resist and destroy. Nevertheless, the Servant/Saviour has gone global, and you and I are part of that global mission. We support mission through inspired action and fervent prayer both locally and internationally, and together with millions of others across the globe, we seek the coming of Christ’s kingdom. The Day will arrive when all will acknowledge Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11) and even Kings and princes will bow the knee before Him as once was joyfully done by Magi from the East. (Isaiah 49:7, Psalm 72: 10-11). The Servant who humbled himself will be super-exalted on high, and the glory and knowledge of the Lord God Almighty will cover and transform the entire world.

Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim, and publish abroad His wonderful name!

And now unto God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all praise, glory, honour, and acclaim, now and forevermore!


(Rev Peter J Clarkson 15.1.23)