Third Sunday after Epiphany January 24, 1999
127, 359, 370, 47
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Here ends our text.
In Christ Jesus, Who was anointed to bring the Good News to the poor in spirit, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Do you know what an private employment agency is? It’s a business that matches people to jobs. Especially in the larger cities, employment agencies are a surprisingly big industry. Somebody who’s looking for a job can go to one of these agencies; they’ll ask him what his experience is, what his skills are, and then they’ll try to find a company that has an opening in that kind of position. On the other hand, if a certain company desperately needs to hire an employee with a particular set of skills, or with the right aggressive attitude, they too might contact an employment agency to help them find that person. Either way, the agency makes a lot of money; they generally charge rather steep fees for their services. People seldom complain, however, because it’s worth it when the employee gets the right job, and the employer gets the right worker to fill their empty position.
Every manager in every business knows how important it is to choose the right man for the job. God the Father chose Jesus Christ to fulfill a certain mission. Jesus came to earth to do a job: the job of saving people from hell! What’s really tragic is that some people are convinced Jesus isn’t the right One for them…or worse, that they’re not the right one for Jesus. But that’s not true. As our text for today explains, Jesus Christ is perfect for His job—the job of bringing salvation to sinners! Our theme today is:
As you know, we are currently in the season of the church year known as Epiphany, which literally means, “appearance.” Beginning with His baptism by John in the Jordan River, Jesus made His appearance to the people as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. This was the starting point of His public ministry. He had a big job to do: that of bringing salvation to mankind. Back then, a lot of people doubted that this carpenter’s son from Nazareth could really be the promised Messiah.
In our world of today, the majority of people still don’t believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is: the only hope of mankind. What do you think? Is Jesus Christ up to the job of being your personal Savior? Will you place your eternal soul in His hands alone? In our text for today, the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah describes Jesus’ qualities. If you study that description carefully, it should leave little doubt in your mind that Jesus Christ is the right man for the job!
In the first place, Jesus has the right qualifications to be your Savior. Foremost among those qualifications is the fact that He’s the handpicked choice of Almighty God. In our text, the Lord introduces His Son with the words, Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth Now, God didn’t choose Mohammed to save you from your sins. He didn’t choose Buddha, and He didn’t choose the Virgin Mary. He most certainly didn’t choose you to save yourself! God chose His Son, Jesus. Nobody else is even in the running. Peter said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
Jesus is further qualified for His office by the power that God gave Him—nothing less than the power of the Holy Ghost! God said, “I have put My Spirit upon Him.” In our Gospel Lesson for today we saw how the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended upon Jesus at His baptism. Jesus used that power of the Holy Spirit to win the hearts of sinners throughout His earthly ministry. Just as convincing is the fact that this power is still at work in the world today. It’s working saving faith in your heart right now, even as I speak these words! Without the power of the Holy Spirit, no one can be saved; and only the Gospel of Jesus Christ possesses that power.
The right man for the job, though, should have more than good qualifications. He should also have the right attitude. That’s very important in the business world. I watched a TV comedy in which a man was being interviewed for a minor job in the mailroom of a large company. The lady interviewing him asked what his ambitions were, and he replied, “Simply to do the best job I can in handling the company’s mail.” Well, the interviewer refused to hire him, because she said his attitude wasn’t aggressive enough. He should want to be a vice-president, at least!
Well, being bold and aggressive might describe a good worker for a job on Wall Street, but it’s not a good description of our Savior. He shall not cry, nor lift up, says Isaiah, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. The job Jesus came to earth to do was different, and it required a totally different attitude. You see, we don’t need a proud and demanding Messiah, to overwhelm us with His majesty and remind us that we’re wretched sinners. We’ve already got the Law to do that. The Law accuses each us when it says, “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” If any of you are tempted to think that the sins you commit every day aren’t really that serious, remember—God says “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all!” Js 2:10. We know we’re sinners, and we know what the penalty is for sin: eternal death. What we need now is a way out.
Jesus is the way out. Jesus comes to us with an attitude not of terror, but of meekness; not of judgment, but of mercy. And that’s the right attitude for our Savior. From His lowly birth in a stable to His shameful death on the cross, Jesus adopted the attitude not of a master, but of a Servant. See the Savior of mankind visiting the poor and healing the sick! See the Son of God preaching forgiveness to the tax collectors and “sinners”! See the King of the universe riding into Jerusalem…on a humble donkey! See the promised Messiah washing the feet of His disciples! See almighty God condemned to death and nailed to a cross, as though He were a disgusting criminal. Yes, Jesus knew what kind of attitude He needed to be your Savior, and He adopted it willingly. Paul says, “Christ Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Php 2:6-8 NIV.
Yes, Jesus comes to us with just the right attitude. He’s not remote and exalted, but down-to-earth and approachable. He brings mercy for our weaknesses, forgiveness for our shortcomings. Is your faith weak?—You don’t have to be afraid! Our text says, A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. Even if your faith is only a faint glimmer, like the smoldering wick of a candle, Jesus won’t snuff it out. Even the slightest glow of faith in Christ can save you; salvation, after all, doesn’t depend on how strongly you believe. It depends on how strong is the Person you believe in. And Jesus Christ is very strong indeed!
—That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Jesus has the right qualifications to be your Savior, and He certainly has the right attitude toward sinners. But what really makes Him the Man for the job is the fact that Jesus gets the right results!
In our text, Isaiah makes this prediction about the Christ: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. What does that mean? Simply that Jesus gets the job done.
Once, when Jesus was talking about the cost of discipleship, He said, You shouldn’t start something you can’t finish. A contractor who pours the foundation of a building and then runs out of money will soon find himself the laughingstock of the community. Well, Jesus could talk about taking on huge jobs, because His was the immense task of bringing forth judgment unto truth, or, in other words: “bringing justice to the earth.” And not just any sort of justice, but God’s justice. God’s plan of justice was this: although you were guilty of many sins, and had broken His Law times without number, you might go free if a high enough ransom price were paid for your sin.
Jesus took on the job: the work of redeeming you from your sin. And He got results. It wasn’t easy—it meant tremendous suffering. There were many trials that could have made Him falter or become discouraged, but He didn’t. His love for you drove Him on. Jesus stuck to it, and in the end, won the victory. When He said those words from the cross, “It is finished!” it meant His work was accomplished. The power of sin was destroyed. The price was paid for all people of every nation, every coastland, and every island on earth! As Paul says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” II Cor 5:19. At that moment, God declared you righteous and holy for Jesus’ sake. There’s nothing for you to be afraid of anymore! Christ has made you a child of God, and an heir of everlasting life…off hand, I’d say Jesus’ work had pretty good results!
What kind of a job do you have? Are you happy with your job? Chances are there are some things about your job you like, and some things you don’t like. It’s very rare to find a person who really feels that his job is absolutely perfect for him. Actually, I know of only one perfect match. My fellow Christians, during this Epiphany season, let’s offer up our heartiest thanks to our gracious God. Because when it came to filling the position of a Savior for us sinners, God made the perfect choice: Jesus Christ—the right Man for the job! AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.