Many people, activities and things beg for our attention. Think of our family members, fellow Christians, friends, neighbors, ads for new products, stuff on sale, recreational activities, political issues, the troubles of life, etc. It seems like our days and weeks have less available time as more parts of life call out, “Pay attention to me!”
Since the true and living God is our all-knowing and all-wise Creator, he knows where we need to concentrate our limited time and energy. He made us as people that are responsible to him for what we ought to do. For example, each of us must invest part of our time with our family and friends. Yet God desires that we focus on his Son, who alone is worthy of our foremost devotion. The truth of our text is like God putting a spotlight on his Son. He calls us to look up from our misery and despair! It can be too easy to concentrate on our sin and guilt. It is also too easy to minimize our sins and our problems, to apply some religious goo to our spiritual pain, and to assume we can work our way back to respectability on a legalistic and pious treadmill. God the Father says to you, “Why do you put so much value on your own righteousness and religious performances? Here is my Servant!”
Our Bible passage (Isaiah 42:1) is from the opening of the first of what are called the Servant Songs (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12; and 61:1-3). In each of these, God the Father presents his Son as his Servant who will carry out all his will. May the Holy Spirit of God give us grace to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ! The Spirit gives us three reasons we should fix our minds and hearts on Jesus Christ.
First, we should fix our attention on him because he is God’s servant (cf. Ac 3:13).
The Son of God came with a humble appearance (Philippians 2:6-8). The great Creator took on created humanity. No one can comprehend what it was like for him to descend from the glories of heaven to the lower, earthly regions, to be born of a virgin and rest in her arms, to be cared by for her, while he still held all creation together (Colossians 1:17). Who can understand how very rich he was? Yet he was born in poverty and lived the humble life of a carpenter, until he became a penniless teacher, dependent on the gifts of others.
While he lived among mankind, he faced mocking and opposition. He experienced being forsaken by the crowds, once they realized what he was saying, and finally he was denied and betrayed by his closest friends. Then there was the cruel death of the cross, and what it more, it was his Father’s will for him to suffer this way (Isaiah 53:10). “For lordship to submit to service, for God to be man, the blessed God to become a curse, here is a matter of wonder indeed” (Sibbes, Works, Vol. 1, p. 7).
The Son came on the most important mission. God the Father sent him to fulfill two important tasks (Rm 3:25-26). He came to vindicate God’s righteous character. God had forgiven sinners like Abel and Abraham, Jacob and David during the time before Christ’s first coming. But no perfect sacrifice had been offered that could pay the penalty for sinners. Where was the justice of the Holy God? He also came that sinful people who believe in Jesus might be justified or declared right with God. We needed a perfect righteousness that we could never supply, since we all are sinners. People reject God as the True God; they refuse to love him; they rebel against God and his commands. How can such people ever be declared right with God? The Lord Jesus came to provide us with his perfect righteousness.
Right now as you read this, you may turn from your sin and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and righteousness. Jesus came to save sinners, and he invites you to receive a full and free salvation.
Second, we should focus on him because he is God’s Chosen One. The Father selected him to be Savior and Lord. He is the Savior of all who believe in him, and he is Lord of all, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth whether they want him to be or not. By his death and resurrection he secured his lordship over the living and the dead (Rm 14:9). So I advise you to pay attention to him. Jesus knew he was sent from heaven to earth to accomplish God’s purpose (John 4:34; 5:23; 6:38-30; 12:44-46). The Holy Spirit affirmed this purpose in the apostle’s writings (1 John 4:9-10). People everywhere have their schemes to get back into God’s favor, or perhaps more audaciously, to try to dethrone and to replace God. But all of them are chasing after the wind. God has chosen his Son Jesus Christ to secure our salvation and to be the Judge of mankind (Acts 10:42). We ought to be content with God’s choice.
The Father chose his people for salvation in the Chosen One. We believers share in what Christ is (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:4-9).We had no worthiness in ourselves that God should desire us. Although we were sinners, he chose us to salvation in his Son. This teaching ought to give us joyful confidence. “If God has chosen him, and we have been chosen in him, why would he ever reject us?” Think of this. God has chosen to love you and to embrace you as his dearly loved child in Christ. Believe in Christ and rest secure in the Father’s love. All this should cause us to say, “Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ!”
Third, we should build our world and life view on him because he is the Father’s delight. The Father loved him from before the creation of the world (John 17:24). Here is mystery. We serve an independent God who had absolutely no need to create. All that was necessary for his eternal joy was already found in the perfection of the Holy Trinity. His desire to create and to save is the overflowing of his love and joy. Whenever the Father viewed the Son in what we feebly call “eternity past”, he was filled with joy in what he saw in him.
The Father loved him during his earthly ministry (Matthew 3:17; 17:4-5). God’s unvarying testimony was his pleasure in his Son. The Father was pleased with his Son when he was baptized, when he changed the water into wine, when he cleansed the temple, talked with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, fed the five thousand, and walked on the water. God was pleased about how Jesus went up to the Feast of Tabernacles, how he spoke with the Jewish leaders, and how he healed the man born blind. He was pleased with the way his Son answered his critics, with how he raised Lazarus, and that he was anointed with very expensive perfume by Mary. God was pleased with the way his dearly loved Son prayed and suffered and died. And God showed his great pleasure by raising him from the dead! The Father loved him because he laid down his life for the sheep (John 10:17; cf. Isaiah 53:12; Ephesians 5:1-2.)
So then, how should we obey this truth about Jesus the Son of God?
- If God so delights in Jesus Christ, then so should we (1 Corinthians 16:22). If God has chosen him, then so should we. Have you? “It should shame us therefore when we find dullness and coldness upon us, that we can hear of anything better than of Christ, and arguments concerning Christ are cold to us” (Sibbes, p. 14).
- If God so delights in his Son, then we may be assured of our own acceptance by God, if we are in Christ by faith (John 17:26).
- If Christ the Son of God was delighted to serve God, then we ought to be delighted to serve him, too (Philippians 2:1-11). Christ was not infatuated with his own greatness. Though he was equal with God, he became God’s servant. Oh, we should come down from the tower of our self-importance and self-centeredness. The heart of every person by nature is proud; it is a deep well of pride. People think, “What! Shall I stoop to serve Christ?” Instead, we ought to think, “Did God the Son humble himself to the death of the cross, while I remain proud?” Let us humble ourselves before the Lord.