The Divine Servant
God has many servants, not only on earth but also in Heaven, for the angels are "all ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14) who "do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Psalm 103:20). But what we would now contemplate is not any servant of God or from God but something infinitely more blessed and amazing, namely, the Divine Servant Himself. What a remarkable phenomenon: an anomaly in any other connection, yes, what amounts to a contradiction in terms, for supremacy and subordination, Godhood and servant-hood are opposites. Yet such is the surprising conjunction which Holy Writ sets before us: that the Most High abased Himself, that the Lord of Glory assumed the form of a menial, the King of kings became a subject. The vast majority of us at least were taught from earliest infancy that the Son of God took unto Himself our nature and was born as a Babe at Bethlehem. Perhaps our very familiarity with this has tended to blunt our sense of wonderment at it. For a few minutes let us endeavor to ponder not so much the miracle or mystery of the Divine Incarnation, but the fact itself.
"Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high" (Isaiah 52:13). There are four things here for our meditation. First, the note of exclamation: "Behold." Second, the Subject thereof: the Divine "Servant." Third, the perfection of His work: "shall deal prudently." Fourth, the reward bestowed upon Him: "He shall be exalted and extolled." We regard the opening "Behold" as not only a call for us to focus our gaze upon and attentively and adoringly consider the One here brought before us, but also and primarily as an exclamation or note of wonderment. What an amazing spectacle to see the Maker of Heaven and earth in the form of a Servant—the Giver of the Law Himself become subject to it! What an astonishing phenomenon that the Lord of Glory should take upon Him such an office. How this ought to impress our hearts and stir our souls. "Behold!" Wonder at it! Be filled with holy awe, and then consider, What ought to be my response thereto?
"Behold, My Servant." Observe none other than the Father Himself owning Christ in this very office. This is most blessed for it is in sharp contrast from the treatment which He received at the hands of men. It was because the Messiah appeared in Servant form that the Jews despised and rejected Him: "Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary...and they were offended at Him" (Mark 6:3). Apparently the holy angels were nonplused at such an incredible sight, for they received, and I think needed, the Divine order: "Let all the angels of God worship Him," when He brought His First-begotten into the world (Hebrews 1:6). "Let," as though they were uncertain—as well they might be now their Maker had assumed creature-form. "All the angels of God," none excepted, the highest as well as the lowest, arch-angel, cherubim, seraphim, principalities and powers—"worship Him," render homage and praise unto Him, for so far from His self-abasement having tarnished His personal glory, it enhanced the same.
How unspeakably blessed to hear the Father Himself testifying His approbation of the One who had entered Bethlehem's manger, bidding the angels not to be staggered by so unparalleled a sight but to continue worshiping the second Person in the Holy Trinity, even though He now wore a menial's garb. Nor has the Holy Spirit failed to record their obedience. For He has expressly told us that while the shepherds were keeping watch over their flock by night a celestial messenger announced to them the Savior's birth. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:13, 14). How jealous was the Father of His incarnate Son's honor! This was evidenced again when Jesus condescended to be baptized in the Jordan: "The heavens were opened unto Him," the Spirit of God descended like a dove and abode upon Him, and the Father audibly declared, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16, 17). "Behold, My Servant," He says to us, and well may we be filled with wonderment and awe!
"Shall deal prudently." Here we need to be much on our guard lest we interpret carnally. In the judgment of the world, to "deal prudently," is to act tactfully—and nine times out of ten "tact" is nothing more or less than a sacrifice or compromise of principle. Measured by the standards of unregenerate "policy" Christ acted very imprudently. He could have spared Himself much suffering had He been "less extreme" and followed the religious tide of His day. He could have avoided much opposition had He been "milder" in His denunciations of the Pharisees or withheld those aspects of the Truth which are most distasteful to the natural man. Had He been "more tactful" as this evil generation considers things, He had never overthrown the tables of the money-changers in the temple and charged such unholy traffickers with making His Father's House "a den of thieves," for it was then He began to "make so much trouble for Himself." But from the spiritual viewpoint, from the angle of ever having the Father's glory in view, from the side of seeking the eternal good of His own, Christ ever "dealt prudently," and none other than the Father Himself testifies to the fact.
Instead of defining and illustrating wherein Christ dealt "prudently" we have rather sought to dispose of a general misconception and warn against interpreting that expression in a fleshly manner after the common order of our day. While it is true that the Christian may through rashness and acting with a zeal that is not according to knowledge, bring upon himself much unnecessary trouble, yet if he is faithful to God and uncompromising in his separation from the world, he is certain to incur the hatred and opposition of the ungodly. He must expect religious professors to tell him he has only himself to blame, that it is his lack of tact which has made things so unpleasant for him. Christ's dealing "prudently" means He acted wisely: He never erred, never acted foolishly, never did anything which needed to be corrected; but the wisdom from which He acted was not of this world, but was "from above," and therefore was "pure, peaceable, gentle" (James 3:17). O for more of such "prudence"—obtained by communion with Christ, drinking into His spirit.
"He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high." This tells of the reward given Christ for His willingness to become a "Servant," and for His faithfulness while discharging that office. It tells us first of the Father's own valuation of His Son's condescension and of the recompense He has made the One who became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. "Wherefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow: of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). The perfect Servant has been exalted to the Throne, seated "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3), "angels, authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (1 Peter 3:22). It tells also of Christ's exaltation in the thoughts and affections of His people. Nothing endears the Redeemer more to their hearts than the realization that it was for their sakes that He "became poor" and abased Himself. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12) is their united testimony. O that He may be magnified more and more in the daily lives of both writer and reader.