The Exalted Servant

See, my servant will act wisely he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

Isaiah 52:13

When I was studying at Cambridge, I had a “bedder,” an unseen person who came into my room every day whilst I was at lectures, who would make my bed and empty my bin. It took me a while to work out what was going on. I thought at first that I had somehow managed to turn into a tidy person without even realising it! Then I thought that there must be some friendly elves who would come in every day. Finally, I learnt the truth about “bedders.” It was rather nice having someone sort my room out for me every day!

Now, quite a few people in my college were unpleasant to the bedders. They could also be unpleasant to the cleaners and the kitchen staff, seeing themselves as somehow superior to the domestic staff that kept the college running. They viewed the staff as little more than servants to carry out their every whim, and who it was excusable to be quite unpleasant to.

In our current Isaiah article, we see the prophet explaining about God’s suffering servant, who would come to earth to take on the sins of every believer. If we are sinful, then a price must be paid for our sin before we can be reconciled to God. The prophet tells us that the suffering servant will take on the burden of our sin.

In today’s reading we encounter God talking about his servant. Rather than a servant who God regards as lowly, we see that God says that this servant will be “raised,” “lifted up,” and “highly exalted.” This servant is to have a very special relationship with God indeed. The servant will, in turn, act wisely. He will know what to do. He will know how to live his life in a way that glorifies and honours God.

There’s a lot that we can glean from this one, short, verse. We can be joyful because God has chosen a servant to pay for our sin. We can see just how much confidence God has in his servant to do the right thing, which tells us not just about the servant himself, but gives us an indication of how we, too, can please God. And we can see God’s attitude towards his servant, raising him up to be with him. We too can be raised if we have confidence in God, and seek to please him. Finally, if God treats his suffering servant in such a positive way, maybe we, too, should think about how we treat people we see as “less good” than us?

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