Steven Shek—Edinburgh, UK
Lord GOD has opened My ear;
I was not rebellious,
did I turn away.
gave My back to those who struck Me,
My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
the Lord GOD will help Me;
I will not be disgraced;
I have set My face like a flint,
I know that I will not be ashamed. (Isa 50:5V7)
We might not immediately realize that this passage is about Jesus. But
read in the context of both the Old and New Testaments—bearing in mind the
persecution, pain, and humiliation Jesus suffered when He came to this world—we
understand that this is a prophecy of what Jesus would experience.
We also may not realize that this passage bears relevance for us, as
end-time believers. According to the Book of Malachi, today we are both sons of
God and servants of God (Mal 1:6; 3:17). As we have this same Christ-like dual
status, we need to also serve as Christ did—faithfully, even in the midst of
suffering. It is an honor and a blessing to serve the Lord, but we may face
many obstacles in our service. This is why we become easily discouraged,
especially when our expectations do not line up with Gods intention. We may
stumble or even throw in the towel after one too many disappointments. And if
we experience suffering in our service, we may even succumb to self-pity.
But Jesus never had this kind of mindset; He never stumbled or gave up,
no matter what He suffered. If we want to serve like Christ, then we must look
closely at the above passage for insight into Christs servitude.
SPEAK GODS WORDS, NOT YOUR OWN
The Lord GOD has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is
He awakens Me morning by
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned. (Isa
When Jesus was in
the world, He did not teach His own ideas; His teachings came from God (Jn
8:26, 40). Of course, Jesus is God Himself, but He was also fully man. Those
who came to listen to Him saw Him as a mere man, a servant of God. Only by
faith could they recognize that Jesus teachings were indeed the messages of
God promised that He would raise up a Prophet like Moses, who would speak what
God commanded Him (Deut 18:15). And later, in the time of Acts, Peter explained
what would happen to those who rejected the Prophets message:
For Moses truly said to the fathers, The Lord your God
will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear
in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who
will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.
Jesus was that
very Prophet, and He wanted the people to understand how important it was to
heed His words. He spoke the truth not to condemn, but to bring salvation. So
Jesus spoke with the tongue of the learned, in the words of Isaiah—that is, He did not rely
on human eloquence, but on the authority of the truth. His intention was to
turn people to God, so that they could repent and be strengthened. It was a
heavenly message for a heavenly cause.
When we attempt
to teach and guide others, do we rely on our own eloquence, or do we rely on the
simple and powerful authority of Gods word? Do we use human reasoning when we
seek to edify, and human insight when we plan our mission work? Or do we seek
biblical guidance? To serve like Christ means we must first awaken our ear to
Gods message—to hear as the learned—before we can speak with the tongue of the learned.
SERVE WITH COMPASSION
The service Jesus
offered the people was in stark contrast to that of the spiritual leaders of
the time. The Pharisees and the scribes
looked down upon sinners, those most in need of their help, as illustrated in
the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Lk 18:9V14). While the tax
collector stood at a distance, in shame, the Pharisee self-righteously lifted
himself above the tax collector. The Pharisee never considered how difficult it
might be for the sinner to come before God.
In contrast, when
Jesus looks at a person, He does not look at his outward appearance; He looks
at the heart. He considers his situation. He looks past his fault and sees his
needs. He would not so much as extinguish smoking flax (Isa 42:3). When Jesus
sees the weary, He is moved to help them.
What would we do
if we see a brother who appears to be spiritually lazy? He may come to church
services late or go about his church work half-heartedly. Our natural reaction
may be to criticize him. But have we considered the unseen troubles he may be
facing? Perhaps he is trying his best under difficult circumstances. Obviously,
we should point out any blatant wrongdoing. But as servants of God, we need to
have a compassionate heart and seek to understand the context before we speak,
otherwise we could cause that person to stumble.
think about how we react when a family member neglects his share of the
housework. We would say, Why arent you helping? Dont you see how much there is
to do? Youre so lazy! Such an emotional reaction is understandable, but we need
to look beyond our emotions and try to understand the other persons situation.
Perhaps he is depressed, or simply too tired, physically, to help with the
chores. Likewise, the spiritually inert member may be weary and in need of
strengthening. No matter what, he needs some understanding.
In times of
hardship, it is comforting when someone understands what we are going through.
Jesus can sympathize with us because He suffered and was tempted just as we are
(Heb 4:15). He came to help the weary. Often, we say to Jesus, I am tired and
weak; have mercy on me. We know how to advocate for ourselves before God.
But as Gods servants, we also need to show this same love and mercy to other
people. This means overcoming our natural tendency to be self-centered.
WAKE UP TO GOD
When Jesus was on
earth, He was awakened morning by morning (Isa 50:4). As He woke from physical
sleep, His heart and ears were also awakened, so that He could hear as the
learned. He did not wake up to Himself, to do His own things—He woke to the Father.
Each morning, He was ready to go to the Father to learn, and the Father was
ready to teach Him.
When we wake up,
how do we approach the day? As a parent or a teacher, we may endeavor to teach
our children, but nothing seems to work. We get frustrated, our children get
frustrated, and our relationship with them suffers. But each morning, we have
two options: either we wake up to ourselves, or we wake up to God. If we commit
to following the Fathers teaching, instead of following our heart and feelings,
then we will be better equipped to teach our children and serve our family.
Every day, Jesus
woke up to the same people—His disciples. They were able to perform signs and miracles, and
even share His teachings. Yet they would quarrel among themselves and argue
over who was the greatest. It would have been natural for Jesus to wake up
thinking, Ah, this hopeless bunch; theyve
walked with me for years and yet they havent changed. But did Jesus have
this kind of heart? Of course He did not.
and mercy are new every morning (Lam 3:22V24). So when we wake up to the
Father, we must give others the same chance. Just as God has given us so much
love, support, and time to change, we should give others the same.
SPEAKING IN TRUTH AND LOVE
Jesus sees our
weaknesses and knows that we are but dust. But His compassion only goes so far.
When we are weak and turn away from Him, He does not say, Shes having a tough
time; let it go. Shes not in the right frame of mind; her heart
is elsewhere. When we are lost and following the world, Jesus does not keep silent.
He warns us.
Jesus spoke out
when He was with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. Even though He was
friendly with them, He told them that they needed to repent. Only if they would
change and come to Him would He give them eternal life. Jesus is faithful; He
sympathizes with our weaknesses, but He wants us to be reconciled with God. He
speaks to us through different people—those who understand what we are going through but are compelled to
speak when they see how we have neglected our spiritual life.
taught, He did not teach as the scholars did. He spoke the word of God with
authority, but He also had love. He was kind, but firm. Is this not what we
need in the family of God? Would we rather have others express the truth
through genuine love, or have them hide it out of discomfort or fear of
offense? Jesus always gives us true love, even though the truth sometimes
In the true
church, we do not want to mollycoddle each other by only speaking pleasing
words. Only through hearing the truth can our hearts truly change. The easy
option is to say what the other person wants to hear, but that may not enable
him to draw closer to God.
Jesus was not
sent to speak Gods words only to those willing to hear, but also to those
who were unwilling. If it had been us, we might have asked, Why send me to
someone who wont listen to me? You know that they wont listen—what is the point? But
Jesus did not speak with partiality or personal preference. He treated everyone
the same, even those who might have made Him feel uncomfortable. He reached out
to everyone, even though He was rejected by His own people. He did not rebel
against His mission to offer eternal life to all (Isa 50:5).
Are we only kind
to those whom we love? How do we treat those we do not like very much, or who
reject us? If we submit to our mission, as Christ did, we would not turn away
Today, to serve
like Christ is to serve with love. To love is to act without expectation of
repayment or reward. If a friend places great importance on every gift being
reciprocated—remarking on every dinner bill they pick up that is not promptly
followed by a favor in return—how long would this friendship last?
Our Lord Jesus
does not keep score—He gives freely, in the hope that we will learn to be like Him.
Today, as servants in Gods household, do not seek or expect repayment for doing
good. Do not look for results that show our investment was worth it. Jesus
never served for His own satisfaction; He served to glorify the Father, and to
further His mission.
SERVE IN SPITE OF SUFFERING
I gave My back to those who
And My cheeks to those who
plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from
shame and spitting.
For the Lord GOD will help Me;
Therefore I will not be
Therefore I have set My face
like a flint,
And I know that I will not be
ashamed. (Isa 50:6V7)
heart-wrenching verses reveal Jesus sacrificial heart. While many people repay
good with evil, Jesus did the opposite. He never turned away from being the
Savior of the world, no matter what He suffered. He gave His whole heart and
His whole self to His work. And He was resolved to complete His mission,
despite knowing that He would suffer and be rejected, even to the point of
Why do we
sometimes find ourselves unwilling to preach the gospel? Maybe we are afraid of
how people will react. Why are we sometimes afraid to
tell the truth to our friends or brothers and sisters? Because we are afraid of
how they will react. One who is deceived and has turned away from the truth
will only have the chance to repent when the truth is spoken to them. So why
would we withhold the truth? Even if they turn against us, at least we have
tried. But if we let fear of suffering stop us from speaking the truth, then we
have not done our best.
disgraced; He was nailed on the cross as a sinner and mocked. He gave
everything He had, completely and without reservation—He owed nothing more to
God or the people. Even though He suffered greatly, Jesus knew that it was only
for the short term. He understood that the joy that would come afterwards would
be everlasting (Heb 12:2).
If we fight for
the truth and speak the truth, we may be rejected by our friends and family.
But if we set our hearts to do Gods will and stand for the truth, we will have
done our part. We may suffer misunderstandings, but God will remember and help
us. He is the One who justifies us. If we hold fast to the truth, eternal life
will be ours.
When Jesus was in
this world, He did not withdraw from uncomfortable and challenging situations.
He faced them head on and spoke the truth, so that there would be no confusion
or uncertainty. Only then would people have the chance to escape from the grasp
of the devil.
If we understand
and speak the truth, then we show ourselves to be true servants of God. If we
look to God for teaching and compassion every morning, and we speak His
words in the face of rejection and suffering, then we will be able to serve
like Christ. And at the end of our service on earth, we will gain the joy that
awaits us in heaven.