The True Servant.

1865 341 It is a consoling thought, not only that God has served us in the beginning of our history as self ruined sinners, but that He will serve us at the end of our history as glorified saints. He serves us, as one has said, in our ruins and in our glories. As in the day of Genesis iii. we find Him with His own hands making coats of skins to cover our nakedness, when He had to drive us from His presence in righteousness; so in the day of Revelation xv. we find Him filling the hands of His saints with harps to tune to His praise, in the day of their glories, and these harps are termed "harps of God." "God is love;" and love delights to serve the objects it has formed, and that are in a position to need that service.

There is something inexpressibly precious in the servant character which the Lord Jesus has assumed towards, and for His people; a character not only serving their need, but the Father's glory, as none but He could serve. We are admitted into that solemn scene of the eternal Son presenting Himself to assume the position of the True Servant in Psalm 40 to accomplish the counsels of God: a scene enacted before He manifested the Father's name in this world in His human body. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou digged: (thou hast digged ears for me) burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come in the volume of the book it is written of me. I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalm 40:6-8.) What perfect devotion to the glory of God, and ability to accomplish all His will, we read in these words! The majesty and glory of God required it: they had been outraged by His creatures. Man had, under the instigation of a powerful enemy, aspired to be a god. The scene in this world of God's creation-glories was defiled and filled with sin. God had no desire for the sacrifices and offerings of the law, which only called to mind that sin was there. One was needed to accomplish his will whose ability was unquestioned. And the eternal Son presents Himself — "Lo, I come." But it was needed too that God should be glorified in the scene in which He had been dishonoured — in the world; and so the Son takes the place of a servant and becomes a man. He has a body prepared, and His ears opened to hearken, as a servant, to the will He came to perform. To Him it was a delight to perform it. "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation."

Christ having thus put Himself in the place of obedience, and with Him it was perfect, He accepts no intervention short of God's. It was thus He found the strong man in the place of his strength. Having a perfect will of His own, He exercises it not. "Not my will, but thine, be done." He would shelter Himself in nothing, and from nothing, while He "waited patiently for the Lord." Patience had her perfect work in Him. There is something so unspeakably gracious in affording thus a perfect example to His people. Assuming a position in grace, in which He would know to the full the trials of His people, and thus be able to sympathize with and succour them, in their pathway through the world, and that they might be able to lean upon Him as One who had passed through all, and knew the pathway Himself, and who had emptied Himself of everything, and humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, rather than fail in one tittle in His perfect surrender of Himself to do the will of God. So, when He had thus waited patiently upon the Lord, He inclined unto Him and heard His cry, and declared Him to be His Son with power, by resurrection of the dead. (Rom. i. 4.) "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name." "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." It is not the value of the cross we have here, but the self-emptied, self-humbled obedience of Jesus, that which, of priceless value in itself, affords so precious an example for His people in their pathway. It was in His pathway of suffering in the world He learned obedience. It was a new thing for the Eternal Son to be in the place of a Servant, and it was by the things which He suffered He learned obedience: and thus was made perfect as our High Priest, and Captain of our salvation. This is not so with us; we learn obedience in detail, by the subjection of wicked hearts and wiles, and the bringing of every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. He acquired the ability to enter into their trials, and to comfort, and sustain His people thus, by sorrow, and in grace, having been subjected to it: "a man of sorrow." "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." (Isaiah 50:4) The outflow of the Son's perfect love of His heart was restrained by the chilling circumstances through which He passed: till at last, forsaken of those who had loved Him, but did not understand Him then, and forsaken of God, He closes that pathway of obedience fulfilling the perfect will of God! There is something so truly precious in those submissive words of this perfect Servant in Matthew xi. 26: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight" — words at the close of a scripture that speaks of His forerunner having doubted Him. His people had not danced to his piping strains of grace. And the cities, where His mightiest works had been performed, had not repented in dust and ashes, at the sight of them. It calls to mind those words of the Spirit of Christ in the Prophet (Isaiah 49) after the Lord's unparalleled course as a servant in the world: "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain;" but He adds "surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God." He commits it to God, and receives the glorious reply from Him to whom the savour of His work had ascended: "And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be His servant . . . It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."

Thus the Hebrew servant in Ex. xxi., when his period of service was over and might go out free, declares that he loves his master, and his wife, and his children, and that he would not go; so his master brings him to the judges, and to the door-post, and pierces his ear through with an awl, and the servant becomes his servant for ever. Like this Hebrew servant, Christ declares that He loves His Father; He loves His wife — His Church; He loves His children, whom God had given Him, and He would not go out free; and thus He becomes their servant forever. We see this in John xiii. Rejected by His earthly people, and the world, when supper was going on, He rises from amongst His disciples, and girds Himself to be their servant in that unsullied presence of light into which He was about to enter — the presence of God. He girds Himself to serve His people, as they pass through a defiled and sin-stricken world, and to cleanse their feet from the stains and soils they would contract as they passed through it, and which would hinder their perception of His love, and their hearts' communion with the Father and the Son.

And in Luke xii. we find Him anticipating the day of His people's glories, when they would no more need the cleansing and wiping of their feet of John xiii. "Verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them it down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Surely we may say, He has served us in our ruin, as self-ruined sinners; and He does serve us in our pathway as children of grace; and He will serve us in our glories as glorified saints.