“Here Is My Servant!” — Part Two
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“Here Is My Servant!” — Part Two

Isaiah 42:1  (ID: 2659)

Most of us are familiar with the Christmas nativity scene. Some, though, may not realize that the baby in the manger and the Servant described in Isaiah’s prophecy are the same man—and that man arrived with a mission. Noting that Jesus came to earth not to be served but to serve, Alistair Begg examines His character and purpose through the lens of Old Testament prophecy. As Christ seeks and saves, we who trust in Him will rejoice.

Series Containing This Sermon

Here Is Your God!

Selected Scriptures Series ID: 26101

Sermon Transcript: Print

Our gracious God, we thank you now for the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you, Lord Jesus, that you came not to be served but to serve, to give your life as a ransom for sin. And we pray that as we turn to the Bible now that we might meet you there, and that in seeing you, we might bow before you as Lord and King and Savior and friend, and that this Christmastime may be filled with the genuine celebration of all that you are to those who believe. And this is our humble prayer and earnest cry. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

You will find Isaiah 42 on page 513 of our church Bibles. And we resume our study from last time in what is the first of four servant songs that are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have noted that the people of Isaiah’s day were guilty of creating heart-level substitutes for God. And they were essentially going to false gods for false salvations. And instead of finding fulfillment along this route, they discovered that their lives were deprived of meaning and of freedom and of enjoyment. And we noted then, and we reintroduce the thought now, that in much the same way, we sin by making someone or something other than God the object of our devotion and the source of our satisfaction. When the Bible says that Jesus came, and his name was Jesus because he would save his people from their sins,[1] we might be tempted to think immediately about sin in terms of killing and stealing and the breaking of the Ten Commandments, in some of the more graphic elements of those commandments. And that, of course, is the case.

I cannot make the object of my devotion anyone other than God himself.

However, I think we’re tempted to overlook the way in which it all begins. “You shall have no other gods before me.”[2] We may never have thought of sin in these terms, that I sin when I take even good things and even good people and put them in the place that only God deserves to be. I cannot find my satisfaction, I cannot make the object of my devotion anyone other than God himself.

And it is this God, whom we saw last time, has spoken and has revealed his person and his power and his purpose. And it is his purpose which brings us directly to the servant, the servant whom we discover acting in the fulfillment of God the Father’s purpose. And we ended last time by noticing that this covenant in verse 6 is essentially the covenant of redemption, whereby the Father and the Son and the Spirit in eternity determined, if we may say so correctly, who would do what. And that which God the Father planned, the servant would come and procure, and that which the servant procured, the Spirit would apply. And so it is that we’re introduced to this servant, and we see him acting.

The servant acts in dependence upon God

Now I’d like you to notice three aspects of the activity of the servant. First of all and briefly, we discover that he acts in dependence upon God. In dependence upon God. Notice the very opening phrase of Isaiah 42: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold.” The servant is upheld by God. And there down further in the verse, “I will put my Spirit on him and [then] he will bring justice to the nations.”

All that we really need to notice at this point is that all of the ministry of Jesus was performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Jesus did—and you can read this when you turn to the gospels—from his conception all the way to his ascension, it testifies to the fact that Jesus exercised his ministry in the power of the Spirit. Now this is prophesied not only here in Isaiah 42, you will find it also at the beginning of Isaiah 11 and also in Isaiah 61. And if you want to verify this, you need only to take one of the gospels and read it through.

By the time Peter was engaged in the great discovery of God’s multicultural purpose in the home of Cornelius, he had it very, very clear in his mind. And in making a statement on that occasion, he says as follows, “You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached.”[3] In other words, you know all about Jesus of Nazareth. And then he summarizes it as follows. “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”[4] So that this servant acts, first of all, in dependence upon God.

The servant acts in keeping with his character

Secondly, you will notice that he acts in keeping with his character. That is, in keeping with the servant’s character. And three things mark the servant’s character.

The servant was humble

First of all, as you will note in verse 2, he was humble. He was humble. That’s the significance of his silence or of the demure nature of his dealings. These three phrases are not simply saying the same thing three times, but they’re actually painting a triune picture of the way in which this servant spoke and acted. “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.” You won’t find him shouting, you won’t find him crying out, you won’t find him out in the middle of the community just making a big hullabaloo.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how so often the cry to the church is, “Well, why don’t you get out in the community and just make a big hullabaloo? Why don’t you stand out on a box and shout?” Well, it’s interesting that Jesus never did that. What is being said here—well, let me try and summarize it for you in common parlance: Jesus is not one who startles with bravado. Who startles with bravado. That’s actually the notion in the opening phrase. You won’t find him jumping out, as it were, and making dramatic statements. We have remarked on that, the absence of that, for example at the end of Luke chapter 24, when he meets with the disconsolate disciples making their way back to their home after the events of the crucifixion. And you remember they say, “You know, we were hoping that Jesus of Nazareth was going to be the one who would redeem the people Israel.” And Jesus doesn’t go, “Hey, hey! It’s me!” No, he doesn’t even on that occasion. He says, “You know, you’re rather slow to believe what was written in the Bible.” And he gives them a Bible study. He doesn’t shout or startle them with bravado.

He is not an extroverted, loudmouthed spokesman. He’s not an extroverted loudmouth. He’s not a showman. He’s not, if you might say so without incurring people’s wrath, he is not essentially the stereotypical television evangelist. So if you’re wondering about Jesus and you’re saying to yourself, “I wonder if I might not like to consider this Jesus? I wonder if I want to know this Jesus?” sadly, I hope you haven’t been put off by some of us who purport to represent Jesus who are the very antithesis of the character of Jesus himself: that he is marked by humility.

And thirdly, he doesn’t shout other people down. He is not, if you like, in essence, a self-promoter. You wouldn’t find large photographs of Jesus in the vestibule of his local synagogue. He’s first of all humble; he’s secondly, gentle. And what we’re noticing is that he exercises his ministry, first of all, in dependence upon God, in keeping with his character.

The servant was gentle

That which others are tempted to reject and discard, Jesus picks up and uses.

What is his character? Number one, humble; number two, gentle. Verse 3, “A bruised reed he [won’t] break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

This is in direct contrast to some of the great political leaders of the time. For example, back in the previous chapter, in 41, we read there of Cyrus, and Cyrus is described as somebody who just comes into town and he tramples people into oblivion. He just comes and he treads on them the way a potter might tread on clay. Jesus is not like that. The servant is tender and is kind. And it would appear that what others reject and discard, he is willing and able to use. That is a wonderful word, and we ought to note it. That which others are tempted to reject and discard, Jesus picks up and uses. That, I think, is the significance of the bruised reed. A bruised reed, you can’t lean on it. You can’t make music with it. But Jesus can, and Jesus picks up that which others have discarded and makes beautiful music in and through their lives. You may be here today and you just feel yourself horribly bruised. Bruised by what others have done to you, bruised by your own bad choices, but you’re just bruised. And you’ve been tempted to believe that you’re bruised and broken and useless.

Well, I have glorious news for you. This servant picks up bruised reeds. And also he makes use of smoldering wicks. He doesn’t snuff them out. He doesn’t say, “Oh, this thing is so smoky, it’s useless. Let’s throw it out and get another one entirely.” No, he takes this flickering stump, and he makes it a shining light. Again, you may be here and someone says to you, “You know, you’re pretty useless, aren’t you? I mean you’ve had your day. You’re an old smoldering wick. If you haven’t got it figured out by now, there’s probably no hope for you at all.” Well, I’ve got good news for you. There is hope for you. And the hope is in this servant.

Isaac Watts, when he wrote concerning this, put it in a stanza:

He’ll never quench the smoking flax,

But raise it to a flame;

The bruised reed he never breaks,

Nor scorns the meanest name.[5]


High society wants to know what your name is. Do you have a name? Are you one of the families? I was with someone from Pittsburgh the past couple of days, and we’re talking about Carnegie in Pittsburgh and then Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, and Ferris in Pittsburgh, the man who invented the Ferris wheel was from Pittsburgh. There’s a whole association of families from Pittsburgh. They’re all, they’re all the families of Pittsburgh. And if you are part of that coterie, then you may be invited to the significant parties in Pittsburgh. But if you’re not, don’t even look for your name on the list.

Well, Jesus is not remotely interested in the high sounding parties. He’s phenomenally interested in the no-names—the bruised reeds, the smoldering wicks. So you see, this is why Christianity in its essence does not appeal to those of us who think we have big names. Those of us who believe that we have earned the right to attend all the best parties. Those of us who are constantly protecting our agenda and trying to make out to everybody that we’re not remotely bruised and we never smoldered once in our lives. What interest is there in this servant who comes for the bruised, the smoldering, and the no-names, unless somehow or another we say, “You know, that is me. That actually is me. I am very interested in this servant.”

The servant was faithful

Humble. Gentle. Faithful. Faithful. He fulfills his task in faithfulness. He will bring forth justice. There you see it at the end of verse 3. He’s not deterred or discouraged by the pressures and blows that immobilize others. That, I think, is the significance of going into verse 4. “He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on the earth,” and in his law, the ends of the earth—that’s the significance of the islands—“In his law, the islands will put their hope.” The people on the extremities of the earth will discover their hope in this servant. If hope is to be found anywhere, it will be found in this servant.

And the word “justice” here, which comes you will notice three times, signifies more than simply the righting of wrongs. It is in reference to the righting of wrongs, but it also conveys the fact that this servant will reveal truth; that this servant will affirm the uniqueness of God.

You see how applicable it was then and is now. Here are all these little idols, and people are going to them and creating them and worshipping them and so on. And here comes this servant into this environment, and this servant comes, and he is going to establish truth. He’s going to say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”[6] He is going to affirm the uniqueness of God. There is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved[7] other than through the name of this servant. And you will give him the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.[8] It challenged the thought forms of the time of Isaiah, and it challenges our thought forms today.

Now think about this as we move on. When society disregards, when society or a society—and societies are made up of individuals, right? When society disregards God as he has revealed himself in his person and his power and his purpose, as he has revealed himself in his servant, when societies disregard God as the creator, sustainer, Father, ruler, and judge of all the earth, and set up substitute gods for themselves—in other words, when societies dethrone the God who made them and enthrone gods of their own devising—we should not be surprised, we should rather expect that such societies will live with the implications of their choice: with poverty, perversion, oppression, misery, illiteracy, pollution, and much more besides, all of which flow from that idolatrous behavior. That is why you can trace lines in cultures and in communities where you have a community that has said, “We believe in God, the creator of the ends of the earth and in his Son, Jesus Christ, our only Savior, and in the Holy Spirit who comes and invades his people. We believe this, and therefore, we do this, and we uphold this, and we affirm that.” And a society that says “We do not believe in God, the creator of the ends of the earth, nor do we affirm any place where his Son, the servant one of Israel, nor do we believe in the personality of the Holy Spirit who comes and opens eyes and so on. We don’t believe any of that. We reject all of that.” Well, just as there are implications to its acceptance, so there are implications to its rejection.

And you don’t have to be a social scientist or a genius to see the difference in our morning newspapers. All of our idolatries, all of our idolatries, can do nothing for us because all they are is the magnification of our own attempts at self-salvation. They’re just at the apex of our designs which say, “No, I don’t want to consider a God who saves. Frankly, I will save myself.” And we might honestly say to one another, “Well, how are you doing?” How were they doing in Isaiah’s day? Remember God challenges them: “Why don’t your idols say something? Why don’t your idols do something?”

The servant acts in accord with his mission

And then he says, “Now let me introduce you to my servant … ” who acts in dependence upon God, in keeping with his character, and thirdly, you will notice in verse 7, in accord with his mission. What is the mission of this servant? And incidentally, we are here this morning—I know it’s only a couple of weeks from Christmas—but I hope you understand that this is a Christmas message. Oh, we can go routinely to the manger in Bethlehem. Everybody feels tremendously cozy about it all, and engendered all kinds of sentimentalism. And it is possible to completely disengage it from the whole, the whole panorama of God’s purpose. That when we look into that manger in Bethlehem, we look in to the child who is the servant of God, and a servant with a mission that Mary and Joseph had no concept of. They got inklings of it. Why would shepherds bow down at a baby? Why would wise men come and bring him gifts? Why would the angels sing in the night sky? And every nursing mother that has sat at the end of the bed when all the family have gone home just to herself and that little bundle beside her with all of her own personal thoughts will understand why it is that the gospel writer says, and “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”[9] to a massive degree. As every mother would know, “Well what, I wonder what this child will be? What will this child become?” And all of this surrounding the event.

The servant opens the eyes of the blind

Well, look at what we’re told. Here all these years before the servant arrives, what is he going to be doing? Number one, opening the eyes that are blind. He’s going to open blind eyes. Well, of course, he gave a wonderful illustration of this by actually granting physical healing while he was in his earthly ministry. The great issue, of course, was not physical blindness. Otherwise, everybody who was blind would have been made to see. Because he’s so compassionate and kind. If that was the issue, let’s take care of it all. But it wasn’t, and it isn’t. He was opening men and women’s eyes. Those who were blind to the truth of God. That’s everybody. We’re born blind to the truth of God. He was opening the eyes of those who were blind to the reality of reality. Who were trying to make sense of their human existence, but somehow or another, couldn’t put it all together. He opens their eyes to reality. He opens their eyes to their own blindness—to those who were blind, to their blindness.

That’s the starting point actually. Some of you might have come here and wondered at the lines in the hymn that we sing from time to time, “Once I was blind but believed I knew everything.”[10] Once I was blind but believed I knew everything. That’s really the testimony of a person’s preconverted experience. That’s why they reject Jesus. I know everything. I know everything, and I know I don’t need a savior. I know everything, and I know that science has disproved anything on the other side of the fence. Therefore, I know everything.

Do you think you know everything? Is that not the greatest megalomania?

Once I was blind,

Yet believed I saw everything,

Proud on my own,

Yet a fool in my part;

Lost and alone

In the company of multitudes.[11]


He opens the eyes of the blind. C. S. Lewis classically says that, doesn’t he, in contrast to Einstein with whom we opened last time. Remember Einstein says, here we are on this planet, appearing “involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay,” without ever knowing why we’re here or what we’re really doing.[12] C. S. Lewis, when his eyes are opened to the truth of God says, “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun: Not simply because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.”[13] Christianity makes a man a better scientist. Christianity makes a wife a better wife. Christianity makes a boy a more obedient boy. Christianity makes a lover of art an art connoisseur, someone who is able to distinguish between the good and the bad and the ugly.

The servant frees captives from prison

He opens the eyes of the blind. Secondly, you will notice, he frees captives from prison. Frees captives from prison. Remember on one occasion he says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”[14] The captivity of Lady Macbeth, whom I quoted the other Sunday, is just so classic. I mean, it’s probably the great classic in all of Shakespearean literature at least, you know. The absolute futility of it all as her husband is becoming increasingly disengaged from reality, because his wife is driving him crazy because she knows that she is guilty, palpably guilty of what she has done, and her hands bear testimony to it. And the smell of blood remains on them despite all of the soaps of Arabia.

And you may be here today and you feel that you’ve got a kind of Lady Macbeth thing going. You maybe didn’t tell anybody. But when your mind goes into neutral, you go there. And you’ve tried all kinds of soaps and all kinds of solutions. But you’re captive to that. This servant came to unlock the handcuffs of our self-exaltation and the deification of substitute gods.

The servant releases from the dungeon those who sit in darkness

And thirdly, he acts in keeping with his mission to free captives, to open blind eyes, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. What a picture, huh? How many people have resigned themselves to their dark and disappointing existence? And despite their attempt to provide superficial smiles and despite every desire to try and make the grandchildren know everything’s super, or the people who are around us, it’s all fine. There’s just dark, disturbing doubts.

We live in a dungeon of our own making. There is all kinds of dungeons, aren’t there? There’s a fifty billion dollar dungeon that this chap has just invented for himself over a period of time. I forget his name. It begins with M, I think. You know what that kind of hedge fund is called in the parlance of finance? It’s called a black box. And the reason it’s referred to as a black box is because if you choose to put your money with that hedge fund, the key to it is that you’re not allowed to ask where it’s going or what’s happening to it. It’s like you put it in a black box. It’s quite a fitting description ’cause as soon as you made a little run on it and needed seven billion out, you discover the black box had a huge hole in the bottom, and Mr. M had created a dungeon for himself. The entry to it marked guilty, the surrounding walls crying out, in the way that in an earlier era, the same thing happened with Richard Cory, if you remember from reading.[15] Or if you don’t remember from reading then you remember from Paul Simon, who helped all of us who didn’t want to read the stuff to have it given to us in a poetic form that would have a memorable melody line:

They say that Richard Cory owned one-half of this whole town

With political connections he spread his wealth around

Born into society, a banker’s only child

He had everything a man could want

Power, grace and style.[16]


But he lived in a dungeon, and he brought his own life to a sorry, horrible end.

Well, it doesn’t have to be a fifty billion dollar dungeon. What about the dungeon created just on 306 here this week—four lanes of total tragedy. Two lives, young lives, snuffed out in an instance. What panic, what depth of depravity, what deep-seated sadness is represented in that dreadful scene? And this servant, this servant is the one who releases people from their dungeons.

You see how different it is from the sort of notion of Christianity that Christianity is about this Jesus who came to help those who are doing pretty well just to do a little bit better? To help these nice people, these sort of religious people, these people who are interested in God and everything else, just to have a little encouragement as they’re going on their way? No, it’s not that at all. No. It’s that Jesus comes to fulfill a mission. The blind, the imprisoned, and those who live in a dungeon.

The story of the servant is not a story about what we must do in order that we might be accepted by God, but it is a story of what he has done making it possible.

And the great thing about this is that the story of the servant is not a story about what we must do in order that we might be accepted by God, but it is a story of what he has done making it possible. That he is the one who comes down into the dungeon, into our enslavement, into our blindness and he says, “You’re the ones who’ve failed, you’re the ones who broke the law, and you are entirely unable to rectify or remedy your condition. But I save sinners, I open blind eyes, I release captives, I bring light into the dungeon, and I have done everything required for you. And in turning to me in simple faith and childlike trust, you may see, you may be free, and the sunshine may flood your dungeon.”

In fact, he’s so committed to it you will notice that he says in verse 13 that he marches out onto the field of battle in order to achieve this, and that in verse 14, he suffers like a woman in labor in order that he might accomplish his purpose. So we find that God speaks, revealing his person, his power, and his purpose. The servant acts in dependence upon God’s Spirit, in keeping with his character, in accord with his mission, and finally, the reader responds.

Notice the responses that are provided for us here. Number one, joyful song. “Sing to the Lord a new song.”[17] In other words, this is the song of the redeemed. This is not just any song. This is a song that is addressed to the Lord. This Lord, who in distinction from all the helpless idols, is able to bring to pass what he has promised. Now that’s the kind of Lord to whom we ought to sing. One who is able to accomplish his purposes. And it is in this prophecy, I think, from memory, that we read the words, that his word goes out and it will accomplish that which he has purposed for us.[18]

And this song is all over the place, you will notice: In the desert they’re singing, the towns, they’re raising their voices, the little settlements and villages where Kedar lives, they’re rejoicing. The people are singing for joy. Some of them up on the mountaintops singing. Others are down on the sea singing. The islands, the extremities of the earth are all singing. They’re all in joyful song. That joyful song is representative of their heartfelt praise, and in the awareness that praise belongs to Him alone, verse 10, and not to idols. They adore him for who he is. All the earth bows down, and all the earth sings praise to him.

But that’s not the only response, you will notice, and in verse 17—and with this we close, jumping forward to there—but he says, despite all of this, “Those who trust in idols, [those] who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.”

We sin by affording to someone or something the devotion that is due to God alone.

Now don’t let’s miss this, loved ones. Don’t let’s play the game now at this point. Don’t let’s try and sequester ourselves, saying, “Well I don’t have any images, and I haven’t bowed down to anything.” Remember what we said at the beginning? We sin by affording to someone or something the devotion that is due to God alone. That someone, that something, could be our wife, our husband, our children, our job, whatever it might be. And if that is our choice, then in the end, we will face absolute, utter, total devastation, and desolation. That’s what the Bible says.

Put it in context. The servant says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and [heavy laden], and I will give you rest.” If you will come to me, I will give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you.” Take the responsibilities that I lay upon you, the privileges that I afford you, let them be the constraining influence of your life. Live in obedience to me. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will,” promise, “find rest for your souls.” Because let me tell you, says the servant, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”[19]

Now it is against that backdrop that you’re then read verse 17: “But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.” In other words, we could know something of God’s tender, pursuing love and yet still cling to idols. And in doing so, eventually in the long run, the tragedy of our choice will run its course.

I think I’ll finish with two quotes from C. S. Lewis, since it is officially C. S. Lewis month. Both of these are not thrown in to fill in the final two moments, but purposefully. Here is C. S. Lewis, writing in The Weight of Glory. And what he’s talking about is the fact that the desires that we have for stuff, for substitute gods, are not actually so phenomenally strong, they are actually pathetically weak. Listen to how he puts it. “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward, the promises in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, sex, and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. We’re like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[20] Far too easily pleased—money, ambition, health, sexual fulfillment—far too easily pleased! Because none of these things, if they serve as the object of our devotion, can grant us freedom and enjoyment and fulfillment.

Now remember that C. S. Lewis turned his back on any notion of God when he was probably about twelve. Brought up in a very nice religious establishment, going to the Anglican Church, and eventually describes in Surprised by Joy how he used to get dizzy the longer the liturgy went and eventually one day, he said, “I’m totally fed up with this, and I will have none of it. No more at all.” And out he stepped in life determined to explain life entirely without any notion of a creator God to whom he was accountable. And the story of Surprised by Joy is ultimately the story of his conversion. And his story ends in this way:

You might picture me alone in my room in Magdalen, [that’s Magdalen College, Oxford] night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet.[21]


It’s an amazing statement. This is not, C. S. Lewis says, “Oh, I’d love to know God. I’m just sitting in my room waiting on God coming so I can know God.” No. He says, “I don’t want to know God. I don’t like him creeping up on me in this way, and I actually don’t want to meet him,” but

That which I had greatly feared had at last come upon me. And in the Trinity Term of 1929, I gave in…[22]


And some of you here need to give in. That’s just the bridge for you. You just need to bow down, give in. Give up.

… I gave in and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; …[23]



… the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can adequately adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words, compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy.[24]


Now here is an award-winning sentence with which to conclude:

The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.[25]

His compulsion is our liberation. You see, what God does is he flies in under the radar. He flies in under the radar of our attempts to create our own little universe that is devoid of him and removed from him. He comes in under the radar. Why? Because he loves saving people. Why? Because he wants to come and show us that even when life has plunged us in its deepest pit, we find the Savior there.

God, who speaks, revealing his person and his power and his purpose. The servant, who acts in dependence upon God, in keeping with his character, in accord with his mission. The response of the listener: a joyful song, a heartfelt cry, or utter shame and total desolation.

Father, we bow down before you. You are a great God, and there is no other.

Father, we bow down before you. You are a great God, and there is no other. And we pray that you will open our eyes that are blind to you, that you will set us free from our enslavements, that you will come into the dungeon that so easily can become ours and shine the beauty and light of your servant upon us so that we might be able to say with Simeon, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” A light that lightens up we who are Gentiles and the glory that shines on your people, Israel.[26]

Help us then so to go out into the week bearing testimony to the fact that Christianity is not a dead-end street, that there is a hope that reaches beyond even the immediacy of our circumstances. Otherwise, how do we make sense of the deaths this week, how do we deal with the onset of illness, all of our cancers, all of our debilitating motor-neuron diseases, all of the things that clamor and crush and choke us? Because all that will be is not now yet. So then fill us with your hope, we pray. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] Matthew 1:21 (paraphrased).

[2] Exodus 20:3 (NIV 1984).

[3] Acts 10:37 (NIV 1984).

[4] Acts 10:38 (NIV 1984).

[5] Isaac Watts, “With Joy We Meditate the Grace” Public Domain.

[6] John 14:6 (paraphrased).

[7] Acts 4:12 (paraphrased).

[8] Matthew 1:21 (paraphrased).

[9] Luke 2:19 (NIV 1984).

[10] Stuart Townend, “I Will Sing of the Lamb” (Thankyou Music, 1997).

[11] Ibid (paraphrased).

[12] Albert Einstein, “Mein Glaubensbekenntnis” [My Credo] (speech, German League of Human Rights, Berlin, 1932), quoted in Michael White and John Gribbin, Einstein: A Life in Science (New York: Dutton, 1994), 262.

[13] C. S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 140 (paraphrased).

[14] John 8:34b (NIV 1984).

[15] Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Richard Cory,” in The Children of the Night: A Book of Poems (New York: Scribner’s, 1921), 35.

[16] Simon and Garfunkel, Richard Cory, Sounds of Silence (Columbia Records, 1966) (paraphrased).

[17] Isaiah 42:10a (NIV 1984).

[18] Isaiah 55:11 (paraphrased).

[19] Matthew 11:28–30 (paraphrased).

[20] C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 2001), 26 (paraphrased).

[21] C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (London: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1955), 221 (paraphrased).

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Luke 2:30–32 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.