The Servant’s Grandeur

Isaiah 49:1-7

We live in a society/culture that caters to self. Read articles from SELF magazine at Start your own community at And then, of course, there’s That way of thinking has even infected the church! In the popular song Breathe 1st person pronouns (I, I’m, me, my) are used 40 times out of a total word count of 171 while 2nd person pronouns (you, your) appear only 18 times. 1 out of 4 words refer to me, 1 out of 10 to the object of adoration.

A report in the London Telegraph describes a study conducted by “Dr Vasudevi Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth’s psychology department, says she has identified seven categories of deception used between six months and three-years-old. Infants quickly learnt that using tactics such as fake crying and pretend laughing could win them attention. By eight months, more difficult deceptions became apparent, such as concealing forbidden activities or trying to distract parents’ attention.”

Yet even though it is perfectly natural for people to focus on self, corporations and businesses of all types have learned, some to their hurt, that focus on others is a big deal. They have discovered that how well they focus on others, that is, the quality of their customer service can be what differentiates them from their competition, earns them repeat business, and thus influences profitability.

In spite of our natural proclivities, we find that in order to be well-liked and successful, we must concentrate on the needs of others; we must serve in order to be well-served. Is it any surprise, then, that our great God should take pains to elaborate for us the grandeur of his Servant, the one who is his emissary to us? In our text we see displayed the grandeur of the Servant’s character, the grandeur of his task, and the grandeur of his honor.

A. The grandeur of His character v.1-3

1. voice of authority

  • Listen, …take heed – listen up, pay attention
    (Chief Straight Arrow – sit up straight, eyes front!)
    see also Luk_4:36 “For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
    Mat_7:29 “he taught them as one having authority, not as the scribes.”

2. appointed before birth

Moreover, what the speaker in this case (Isa_49:1-2) says of himself is so unique, so glorious, that it reaches far beyond the vocation and performance of any single prophet, or, in fact, of any individual man subject to the limitations of human life and human strength. Keil & Delitzsch

  • Named before birth to a task, divinely called to the office and vocation of a servant – see Mat_1:21
  • Given a name above every names, that of Lord – “every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Php_2:11

3. gifted speaker

  • major component of ministry – teaching

4. penetrating discernment

  • his words, the expression of his divine wisdom, cut right to the heart of the matter
  • consider the rich young ruler, Samaritan woman, Simon the leper

5. glorifying to God

  • Yahweh, the one who had called the Servant, speaks, declaring that he will be glorified in the Servant.
    “in whom I will display my splendor” NIV
    “in whom I will show my glory” NAS
    “through whom I will reveal my splendor” NET
  • tangible manifestation of his splendor revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration as the God who had taken on the tent of humanity allowed the radiance of his glory to shine through
    See Joh_13:31-32

[T]he Lord, in the act of dismissing Judas, reflects glory on himself; for in doing this he allows the storm, not of rain but of wrath, to descend upon himself, while he shelters his own. This was his glory. See on 1:14. Hence, just now, at this very moment which seems to spell defeat, dishonor, and disaster for him, the Son of man is in reality glorified!

And, due to the infinite closeness existing between the Sender and the One Sent, God was glorified in him. The two are inseparable. Whenever we think of Christ’s suffering, we never know what to admire most: whether it be the voluntary self-surrender of the Son to such a death for such people, or the willingness of the Father to give up such a Son to such a death for such people. Wm. Hendriksen

The Father was not only willing to send his Servant for such a task, he expresses here absolute confidence in the Servant – that God’s splendor and grandeur will be displayed in and through the Servant is an immutable certainty since he has been chosen, appointed and equipped for that very purpose.

B. The grandeur of His task v.4-6

1. personal ministry only to “house of Israel” Mat_15:24

  • “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
  • Servant expresses opinion about apparent fruit of labors while acknowledging there must be a bigger picture. Yet he remained faithful to his task in spite of failing to see positive results.
  • It was not results but confidence in the Father that motivated the Servant. He knew that it would be through an apparently barren ministry to his own people that God would accomplish breath-taking results far beyond the boundaries of Israel.
  • Parenthetically in verse 5 the Servant finds strength to persevere in God, his calling, and his promises.

2. wider scope to include all nations

  • In order for the immense and majestic Sovereign Lord to be thoroughly and properly glorified, an immense and awe-inspiring work must be accomplished by the Servant.

The true meaning of the Prophet is, “This work in itself indeed is magnificent and glorious, to raise up and restore the tribes of Israel, which had fallen very low; for he will add the Gentiles to the Jews, that they may be united as one people, and may be acknowledged to belong to Christ.” Nor does this passage relate to the rejection of the ancient people, but to the increase of the Church, that the Gentiles may be associated with the Jews. It is true, indeed, that when the Jews revolted from the covenant, the Gentiles entered, as it were, into that place which they had left vacant; and thus their revolt was the reason why those who had formerly been aliens were admitted to be sons. But in this, as well as in other passages, Isaiah foretells that the Church will be greatly extended, when the Gentiles shall be received and united to the Jews in the unity of faith. Calvin

  • While the nearly exclusive focus of the Servant’s ministry was his own people, the Jews, ultimately his ministry would extend to the Gentiles through those whom he would commission.
  • It is also important to remember that the greater extent of the Servant’s ministry in no way excludes the lesser – the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah did not make them second-class citizens; it merely put them in the same boat redemptively as everyone else.

3. salvation to reach every corner of the earth

  • the concept repeated from Isa_42:6 of a light to the nations
  • additional statement to provide further description and application
  1. “that you should be my salvation”
  2. the Servant would be the instrument of salvation, of deliverance, not only for the Jewish people, but for “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes” Rev_7:9
  3. One religion is not as good as another. It is only in the Servant that the world finds deliverance.
  • When it comes to delivering people from the power of darkness and conveying them into the kingdom of his dear Son ( Col_1:13 ) God has always had more than just the Jewish people in mind. Clearly, from this point in history 700 years before the birth of Christ, salvation of the Gentiles was in God’s mind.

C. The grandeur of His honor v.7

1. despised, viewed as repulsive by the nation

  • held in contempt, esteemed of little worth

“No being ever excited more abhorrence [loathing]; no man was ever regarded with so much abomination [extreme hatred] by any people as Jesus of Nazareth was, and still is, by the Jewish people. He was condemned by the Sanhedrim; publicly rejected by the nation; and at the instigation and by the desire of the assembled people at Jerusalem, he was executed as a malefactor in the most shameful and ignominious manner then known.” Albert Barnes

2. kings will see his dignity

  • The time will come that even rulers will see the Servant as he truly is and his true dignity becomes apparent to those who previously despised him.
  • Kings and their attendant nations will see the glory and majesty of the Servant; they will acknowledge his worth, they will fall on their faces in worship.
  • This Servant will be a light to people from all walks of life, from the lowliest to the most dignified

3. the ultimate sovereign will magnify him

  • the Servant will be honored because the Father kept his promises
  • God will raise him from the absolute lowest depths of humiliation possible to the highest place of honor
  • From our perspective this took place at Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
  • God’s eternal purpose is to gather into one the whole created universe by reconciling His creatures to Himself and to each other, a purpose He is working out through Christ in the church and ultimately to the praise of His glory.

Bob Kauflin, Let Your Kingdom Come

Your glorious cause, O God, engages our hearts
May Jesus Christ be known wherever we are
We ask not for ourselves but for Your renown
The cross has saved us so we pray,

Your kingdom come
Let Your kingdom come
Let Your will be done
So that everyone might know Your Name
Let Your song be heard everywhere on earth
Till Your sovereign work on earth is done
Let Your kingdom come.


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