When we think of the word servant it brings all kinds of thoughts and images to mind.
For some to consider the role of a servant it carries with it the picture of one who is subjected to great suffering and hardship to do whatever the master requires.
The servant has no will of his own, he is just there to make life easier for the one who owns him. The history of servants has been one of abuse and sadness for many.
Even today we can find those who are servants or slaves who suffer in this world under hard masters.
So who is God talking about when He says in Isaiah 42:1-4 “Behold my servant?”
There are enough clear clues right in these verses to identify who the servant is that the prophet is writing of.
The first phrase is a giveaway when we consider just a couple of chapters further in Isaiah 52:13-15 and 53:1-12.
Isaiah 52:13 starts with the same phrase “Behold my servant” and the rest of chapter 52 and all of chapter 53 are very obviously prophecy about the Lord Jesus Christ in his suffering on the cross. The one who is said to be God’s servant is His only Son.
There’s a verse in Philippians 2:7 where we read about God’s Son who “took upon him the form of a servant.”
This phrase of the scriptures is in the context of the self humiliation of Jesus even to the point of going to the cross.
Verse 8 says that he was obedient unto death even the death of the cross. Verses 9-11 speak of the subsequent exaltation of Jesus.
It is no wonder that God said back in Isaiah chapter 42:1 “Behold my Servant”.
There is an account in Luke 7:1-10 of a master who was a Roman centurion, likely living close to Capernaum. The centurion had a servant that was gravely sick at the point of death.
The centurion sent for Jesus to come and heal his servant who was dear to him.
So Jesus went right away and just before he came to the house the centurion sent messengers to tell Jesus that the centurion felt unworthy to have him in his home.
The messengers said that the centurion understood about authority, being a military officer, and that he believed that all that was needed was for Jesus to say the word and his servant would be healed.
Jesus marveled at the centurion’s faith in him and healed the servant from where he stood having met the messengers.
This account of a servant being healed by the greatest servant of all is just one of many countless acts of service that Jesus had done.
On another point, in Matthew 12:14-21 we read of the Jewish religious leaders planning to destroy Jesus somehow.
When Jesus knew this he sought to avoid the conflict and went to other places healing and teaching. He told the people to not make him known.
In other words he did not seek to exalt himself or make himself great.
Matthew then tells us that this was a fulfillment of the passage from Isaiah chapter 42 showing the servant character of Jesus.
The disciples of Jesus were often showing a very different character from their Master who was a servant.
They would argue about who would be the greatest and Jesus would patiently be their example and seek to teach his own about being a servant.
One of these times is found in Matthew 20:20-29.
The mother of James and John came to Jesus and requested that her two sons could have a place of prominence in his kingdom.
After some deliberation, Jesus in conclusion said in verses 27-28: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
John Eggers is an elder in the assembly that meets in Westsyde Gospel Hall in Kamloops.
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