God Is Glorified in His Servants (Isaiah 49)
- Liturgy: Divine Service 3
- #398, "Hail to the Lord's Anointed"
- #948, "All Glory Be to God Alone"
- "Lord of Hosts Is Holy"
- #531, "Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus"
- #400, "Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning"
- Location: Grace, Brooklyn Park, MN
And He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." (Isaiah 49:3)
Children can bring their parents a great deal of joy and glory. On more than one occasion, I've told parents about something great that I observed their child doing or saying. It might have been the great work the child did in Confirmation class. It might be something very mature and thoughtful that the child said to someone else. It might have been that the child went out of his or her way to be helpful. And in most every instance, as I think about the parents, it doesn't surprise me. The child is merely demonstrating the same qualities that the parents have. Children can bring their parents a great deal of joy and glory.
In our Old Testament reading for today, a servant is described who brings God a great deal of glory. God even calls the Servant by name in our text, "Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
However, in Old Testament Israel, the descendants of Jacob, God was anything but glorified. He had chosen them to be His people. He had promised to be their God and to bless them in abundance, which He did. They were to be His people, His servant in this world and among the other nations.
But they were ungrateful for all that God had given them. Their wandering eye always found their neighbors' false gods attractive. They oppressed each other. All of this brought God anything but glory!
Like Old Testament Israel, we fail to bring God glory at times. We are ungrateful for the blessings God showers down on us. We think we have earned them. We deserve them. We are entitled to them. We find our neighbors' gods very attractive and alluring. We think only of the ways that others can benefit us instead of the other way around. Like Old Testament Israel, we fail to bring God glory.
Fortunately for everyone, God sent a new Servant. One who will be everything that the first Israel was not. Our Old Testament reading is one of four "Servant Songs" in Isaiah. All of them describe a particular "Servant of the LORD." And who is this Servant? Only one person completely fulfills every one of the Servant's characteristics. Jesus Christ. This Old Testament reading describes Jesus Christ and the salvation He would bring.
This Servant of God describes how the LORD called Him from the womb. How He named Him from the body of His mother. In other words, God set this Servant apart before He was born. God named this Servant before He was born. Through this Servant, God will be glorified.
God will be chiefly glorified by this Servant when He completes the Father's will. Voluntarily, willingly, He lays down His life for the sins of the world. As Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
In His High Priestly Prayer, less than twenty-four hours before He would go to the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him." In this Servant, in His willing submission to the Father's will, the Father is glorified. The Father is glorified as Jesus is the sacrifice for the sin of the world.
Nowhere is God's glory more visible than on the cross of Calvary. There, Christ serves not only His Father, but all of us by paying the price for our sin. Stop and consider that in Jesus Christ, God Himself bows His head and dies for sinners. How amazing! And in so doing, He reveals God's glory for all the world to see.
This Servant will bring glory to God through His work. God says to His Servant, "It is too light a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make You as a light for the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Not a small, limited mission. Christ did not die for some of the world's sin or for some sinners. As John the Baptist states so precisely in today's Gospel, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." His work is all-encompassing. He is a "light to the nations," and the Lord's salvation has reached "to the end of the earth."
And now, we, whose lives have been eternally changed through the work of God's Servant, can reveal God's glory to the world. Daily, we have opportunities to let those around us see God's glory through our words and our actions. We are God's servants, following in Jesus' footsteps as the Servant of God.
Freedom rom our sins, we are free to love each other as Christ has loved us. Freed from our sins, we are free to place others' needs above our own. Freed from our sins, we are free to serve others in ways that God is glorified. We follow Christ's example, who bound Himself in service to us. So also, we are bound to each other.
We picture the life of a servant as being difficult. Always performing tasks dictated by others. In a similar way, it is not easy being God's servant in this day and age. Our sinful nature, the devil and the world will tell us to serve ourselves and bring ourselves as much glory as we can. Our culture is turning increasingly away from Christ and His Church, not seeing the need for a Savior and not wanting to entertain the idea that Christ is the Savior. Despite these challenges, may God continually equip and strengthen us through Word and Sacrament to be His servants--serving Him and each other. May He empower us to do and say those things that bring Him glory. Remembering God's perfect Servant and all He did to serve God and us, bringing God glory, may we be God's servants who bring Him glory. Then will be accomplished the timeless purpose, that in Christ, God's Servant, and in His modern-day Servants, God Is Glorified. Amen.
Sermon adapted from Rev. Glen D. Thomas' sermon in Concordia Pulpit Resources.
- Isaiah 49:3
- Mark 10:45
- John 17:1-2
- Isaiah 49:6
- John 1:29