ESV Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. 5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
New things I now declare. Behold, the Lord is going to do a new thing. “I am YHWH; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare…”
What were the former things? He created the heavens and stretched them out. This was a new thing. The word “create” here means to make out of nothing; something entirely new. It is not the word that means to fashion something out of existing materials such as creating a work of art, a painting or sculpture. This word means to call something into existence out of nothingness. He created the heavens and earth from nothing and stretched them out. And he created humans and gave breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it. A new thing, a different species from all the plants and animals. Man was a new concept; a new creature. But the man rebelled against God and so God expelled him from the garden and sent him into the wilderness. The land was cursed on account of sin, and death became the punishment for man’s rebellion. Man became a prisoner to sin, being born of the nature of sin he cannot free himself or escape his sinful nature.
And YHWH called a chosen people out of Egypt and made a covenant with them; a promise to be their God and made them his people. He led them through the wilderness for forty years until they crossed the river into the promised land. But when his chosen people turned away from him he turned his back to them and rejected them. He cast them out and sent them into exile. But he kept for himself a remnant of the faithful. He preserved a chosen few for himself.
Then he did something new. He chose a Servant in whom his soul delights. A Servant who was himself an entirely new thing. Unlike anything yet created, the Servant was a new creature; He was God and man. A God-man. And he came to do something new. He has come to make a new creation; a new heaven and a new earth. He has come to reverse the curse on sin. He has come to bring man back from the wilderness to the garden. To make righteous the unrighteous and to restore justice. To free mankind from the prison of sin and deliver him from the dungeon of death.
And this new thing, a new covenant, a Servant, who was God and man, was made manifest to us and was named Jesus, God saves. He was the new covenant. The new covenant was not a contract, it was a person. Jesus Christ is the salvation of the Lord. He was made manifest by a star in the east who led the peoples of the nations to him. He was revealed by his baptism in the River Jordan where he went down into the water and was covered with the sins of the world.
And God spoke from the heavens and declared him the Son of God in whom he was well pleased. God delighted in him, his chosen Servant, and was pleased with him.
And coming up out of the water the Spirit of God came upon him and dwelt in him for the rest of his life. And so he was filled with the Spirit of God until that day he hung on a cross and gave the Spirit back to his Father. A man filled with the Spirit of God.
A holy, righteous man without sin was baptized by John with the baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Why? To fulfill all righteousness. He was taking our place as sinner. To make us righteous by bathing himself in our sin and purifying the waters with his holiness. He clothed himself in the injustice of sinful man and took into his own flesh our rebellion against God for which we deserve death and eternal punishment (I Peter 2). He became sin for us (II Cor 5) in order to exchange his righteousness for our sin in baptism.
He took our sin in order to restore justice to the nations. To make us just, that God would declare us just, he had to take our sins himself. And wrapped in our injustice, he suffered our injustice. At our hands he suffered. He was rejected by his own people. The world and mankind whom he had created did not recognize him and turned away from him. We despised him. We hated him. We spat in his face, beat him in the face, lashed him on his back, and crowned his head with thorns. We made fun of him with a purple gown. We hung him on a cross, scorned him, laughed at him, reviled him. Until finally he gave his Spirit back to his Father and breathed his last.
But in all this he did not lose faith. He did not become discouraged. He endured the pain and the shame patiently until he had established justice in the earth by his death. For it was by his death that we are justified in the sight of God. It is because he was wrapped in our sin and exchanged our sin for his holiness that he paid for our sin on a cross and God declares us righteous.
He patiently and silently endured the injustice and evil of mankind. He came to establish justice, but not by raising an army and conquering the nations. He came not to stage a coup-de-eta and set himself on the throne by force. He didn’t march in the street or start riots. He didn’t get on a soap-box and make loud speeches and garner up the support of the masses to make him king so he could overthrow the government and establish his own rule. He did not cry aloud with his voice or make it heard in the street.
But he came with meekness and gentleness. The bruised reed he did not break, nor did he quench the faintly burning wick. He faithfully brought forth justice in the midst of his own suffering and affliction. To those who labor and are heavy laden he gives rest. To those who are burdened by their sin and guilt he gives peace. To the weak, the suffering, the broken hearted and the poor in spirit he comforts and encourages. He does not quench the faintly burning wick of weak faith in the struggling sinner. He comes to strengthen the weak, to bind up the broken, to lift up the down trodden. He comforts us for we are the weak in faith. We are the ones trodden down by sin and guilt. We are the ones who are imprisoned by sin from which we cannot free ourselves. But the servant revealed to us in his baptism comes to help and comfort us. He comes to right the wrongs done against us. He comes to gently bind up our wounds and nourish our faith back to health.
In our baptism we were brought out of the prison and set free from sin and guilt. We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. In his baptism he was clothed in our sin and guilt and received our injustice, so that in our baptism he might clothe us with his justice and free us from the power of sin and evil. That we might become the sons of God and walk as his sons.
So now, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! For we are dead to sin in baptism. How can we then still live in it? For we have died together with Christ to sin, in order to be raised from the dead that we too might walk in newness of life. God has done a new thing! He has made us new! We are no longer prisoners of sin, but have been released from the prison of sin and death. We have been set free from the dungeon of eternal punishment. By his Servant we have been made sons of God and God has declared from the heavens: you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.
And the Holy Spirit has descended upon you for this is the promise given to us in baptism. Filled with the Spirit we now walk by the Spirit in a new life. A reformed and recreated life, not in the sinful lusts and deeds of our former life, but as new creatures, children of God we live and breathe and move and have our being in Christ Jesus our Lord; the Servant of YHWH.
In Christ Jesus God is please with us and delights in us. So be not discouraged or brokenhearted. He will console you, nourish you, strengthen your faith which burns faintly. Though you are the bruised reed he will not break you, but support you, hold you up that you may grow upright and strong in the Lord.
Yes, God has done something new: he has made a new you! Amen.