a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
(Isaiah 42:3 ESV)
Having exposed the deadness of idols by saying,
‘Behold, you are nothing’ (Isaiah 41:24) and
‘Behold, they are all a delusion’ (Isaiah 41:29) Isaiah now for the third time issues a dramatic summons,
‘Behold my servant’ (Isaiah 42:1). It is as if he is saying, you can see that idols are nothing, you can see that they are but a delusion; now take a look at my Servant.
As this third call to look rings out we see that this Servant led by God’s spirit
(Isaiah 42:2) will bring justice to the nations
(Isaiah 42:1,3,4). This justice Isaiah has previously referred to:
‘learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.’ (Isaiah 1:17).
This Servant will achieve this kind of justice by not being self-assertive:
‘He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets’ (Isaiah 42:2 NIV). This suggests that he will not drown out another’s voice, seek to dominate or shout others down in public; rather
‘a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench’ (Isaiah 42:3). He will not be dismissive of others however beyond repair, however near extinction they may seem. These negative statements imply their positive equivalents: he can mend the broken reed and fan into flame the smouldering wick. The reed has been internally damaged and the wick lacks the external provision of oil. This Servant is competent both to cure and to supply.
Who is this Servant of whom Isaiah speaks? The New Testament identifies him as Jesus
(Matthew 12:15-21). He is attracted to hopeless cases. He loves the fragile people who are beaten, battered, and bruised. He knows what to do with them: He binds up the brokenhearted, and he heals their wounds.
What does it mean to be a church of the Servant? What does it mean for you and me to follow this Servant? Well, it can mean nothing less than as individuals and collectively as the community of faith, we are to be loving and kind to the most bruised and beaten.
We should not look down on those who are hurting or be an elitist church; rather we are to be concerned about oppression, the orphans and widows. This was the heart and desire of the spirit-led Servant; may it be the heart and desire of the spirit-led church and the spirit-led Christian.
In this way we can emulate the Lord’s Servant and be a light to the nations
(Isaiah 42:6; cf. John 8:12, Matthew 5:14-15).
Father, thank you for giving us a Servant who brings justice and who cares for the most bruised and battered. Lord, as we struggle to follow in his footsteps lead us by your Spirit to be vehicles for his salvation in this world.
Have a good week shining in a dark world.