“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on the earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”
The suffering servant . . . Jesus . . . us. What are we to do? What is our vocation?
In the first verse of the first of four servant poems, we are told that the servant’s vocation is to “bring forth justice.” This is a formidable task in our broken and corrupt world. But like everything else, unless we know we are loved—“my chosen one in whom I delight”—and empowered—“I will put my Spirit on him”—our work for justice will become another egodriven quest for meaning and personal validation.
We are to be like Jesus, who worked for justice out of his surrender to his Father and his love and respect for his fellow human beings. He had nothing to prove, but gave himself freely, knowing his own life was caught up in the lives of those around him. As he sought to raise people up from sickness, oppression, rejection, and death, he was doing it out of the love and power which would ultimately result in his resurrection from the dead.
So we are loved and chosen to bring forth justice. What does that mean? “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Biblical justice is neither a standard of perfection nor an arbitrary code of conduct. It is being careful with the vulnerable. It is gently nurturing the almost-extinguished life of the broken and nearly dead.
Our experience of being loved and chosen should lead us to loving those who we may not feel like loving. That is what we are to do.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: ISAIAH 42:1–4
1. Who are the unnoticed and vulnerable in your community? What can you do to move them from the periphery of your attention to the centre?
2. How would you see relationship with the poor and vulnerable around you if you honestly believed that you need them more than they need you?
Don Cowie is a pastor in Downtown Vancouver. He has served there for over 20 years, and for the last six years has been leading a church plant called Mosaic @ the space, which meets in a warehouse just outside the Downtown Eastside. They are a community of broken and vulnerable people seeking to love and serve each other. Visit www.themosaic.org.