–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law (Isaiah 42:1-4 ESV).
So often, we are bruised reeds and faintly burning wicks. We have all felt this way at times, as we face our sins and shortcomings in the mirror of God’s Holy Law. It is sometimes so obvious just how very very wicked we are. We watch almost from outside of ourselves as we snap at our children, shun our spouse, make fun of that person ahead of us in the grocery store line, talk behind a co-worker’s back and more. Somewhere inside of us a voice is telling us just how wrong we are, just how wicked and horrible. And yet, we don’t seem to be able to stop. Then, we feel the weight of our sins piling on us, and in our weak state, even the friendliest word of correction pains us. We are crushed, on the verge of breaking in half, of being snuffed out.
Into our despair and brokenness, Yahweh sends His chosen servant. In Jesus’ Baptism, Yahweh declares Jesus to be His Beloved Son, with whom He is well-pleased. Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan sends Him out on His work of salvation. As the Beloved Son of God, Jesus travels the road to the cross. He, the bruised reed, allows Himself to be broken for us. He, the faintly burning wick, allows Himself to be snuffed out on our behalf. He becomes bruised, bloodied, and dimmed for us. In His death on the cross He takes into Himself all the sins and shortcomings which we mourn in ourselves.
Then He comes gently to us as we labor under the law and are bruised and nearly snuffed out, and He speaks peace. He speaks forgiveness and life. He places His Name upon us in our Baptisms, and in so doing declares us righteous in Him. He does not break or quench us, but renews and strengthens. In our Baptisms, He makes it so that Yahweh speaks also to us: “You are my servant, my chosen, in whom my soul delights, and I have put my Spirit upon you.” God’s justice has been brought forth in us, a justice in which the just dies for the unjust, and the unjust become the just. When we are breaking and sputtering out, we hear again that the Beloved Son of God has died for us, forgives us, grants us His righteousness and life, and comes gently to us in water and Word, in bread and wine to repair what is broken and soothe the brokenhearted.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Beloved Son of God, thank you for making us also, with You, beloved children of the Father through our Baptisms into Your death and resurrection; uphold us when we are weak, speak mercy to us through your Church when we are bruised and broken, and bring us at last to stand with You, whole and forgiven on the Last Day as children of the Heavenly Father; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.