Servant and King

The theme of fulfillment is prominent in Matthew’s gospel. In Jesus, the promises of God find their fulfillment. He is the Son of God sent to redeem Israel and rule the nations. Peter, for example, while on the “way” to Jerusalem, confirmed that he was the “Messiah,” but he failed to understand that he would undertake that role as the suffering “Servant of the LORD” who came to “bear the sins of many.”

The Gospel of Matthew begins by calling Jesus the “son of David, the son of Abraham.” He was the royal descendant of David destined to rule the nations and the heir of Abraham who would fulfill the covenant.

Day of Visitation - Photo by Alexandre Perotto on Unsplash
[Photo by Alexandre Perotto on Unsplash]

Abraham was wealthy. David was a victorious warrior king who reigned in Jerusalem, but how could a poor man from a small village in Galilee accomplish all that God had promised in the Hebrew Scriptures?

An angel informed Joseph that Mary was pregnant and commanded him to name the child ‘Jesus,’ for “he will save his people from their sins.” That name means “Yahweh saves.” It signified what God would do for His people through the man from Nazareth.

The declaration that he would “save his people from their sin” echoed the description of the “Servant of the LORD” in the Book of Isaiah, providing insight into what kind of Messiah Jesus was:

  • Behold, MY SERVANT shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high… And Yahweh has LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL… Who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living FOR THE TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE TO WHOM THE STROKE WAS DUE?... He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself SHALL MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT JUSTIFY MANY; AND HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES… Because he poured out his soul unto death and was numbered with the transgressors: YET HE BARE THE SIN OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

After he was baptized, the Spirit descended on him “like a dove,” and the “voice from Heaven” called him “my Son.” Thus, God confirmed his status as the Messiah of Israel, and He also defined HOW he would fulfill that role, namely, as His “Servant” - (Psalm 2:7):

  • (Isaiah 42:1, 6-7) - “Behold, MY SERVANT whom I uphold; my chosen one IN WHOM MY SOUL DELIGHTS. I HAVE PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM; he will bring forth justice to the nations… I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nation.”

THE SERVANT


Jesus was the “Son” anointed by God’s Spirit to rule the nations, but he began his reign as the “Servant of Yahweh.” His sovereignty over the Earth commenced from the Cross of Calvary. In Matthew, the same passage from Isaiah is cited to describe his ministry:

  • (Matthew 12:18-22) - “And perceiving it, Jesus withdrew from thence: and many followed him; and he healed them all and charged them that they should not make him known: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: Behold, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL IS WELL PLEASED. I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL DECLARE JUDGMENT TO THE NATIONS. He shall not strive, nor cry aloud; Neither shall anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, And smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth judgment unto victory. AND IN HIS NAME SHALL THE NATIONS HOPE.

At his later Transfiguration, the Divine voice echoed Isaiah again, “While Peter was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; HEAR HIM” - (Matthew 17:1-5).

His Transfiguration was preceded by three incidents that prepared the disciples. First, Jesus asked what others were saying about “who the Son of man is?” They responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, or one of the prophets.” Then he asked who they believed he was. Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” - (Matthew 16:13-20).

Second, Jesus warned them about his coming suffering and death at the hands of the “elders and chief priests and scribes.” Peter found the idea unbearable and "began to rebuke him.” His momentary revelation about the identity of Jesus evaporated immediately - (Matthew 16:21-23).

Third, Jesus explained that if anyone desired to follow him, he must deny himself, take up his Cross, and follow him. “Whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.”

He told the disciples that some of them would “see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” before they died. In Matthew, these words are followed by the transfiguration - (Matthew 16:24-28).

Afterward, they asked Jesus why the Scribes claimed that “Elijah must come first.” He responded: “Elijah” had come, alluding to John the Baptist. To John, the Scribes and priestly leaders “did whatever they would. Even so, shall the Son of Man suffer” - (Matthew 17:9-13).

SUFFERING BEFORE EXALTATION


Two themes become prominent in the story. First, his coming suffering and death. Second, his disciples were summoned to follow him by engaging in sacrificial service for others and his Kingdom.

Later, two disciples requested high positions of Jesus “when you come into your kingdom.” This displeased the others. However, Jesus used the opportunity to explain how “greatness” would be measured in his Kingdom:

  • (Matthew 20:25-28) – “But Jesus called them unto him and said: You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your servant, and whosoever would be first among you shall be your slave, EVEN AS THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY.”

The royal Messiah of Israel pointed to his sufferings and death as the true example of what it meant “not to be served, but to serve.” In doing so, he alluded to the description of the Servant of the LORD: “Because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors. Yet HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY AND MADE INTERCESSION FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.

His death was the “ransom price” for the redemption of the “many.” Paul employed this same image when demonstrating how believers attain and manifest the “same mind, which was in Christ Jesus.”

Unlike Adam, Jesus did not attempt to seize the “likeness with God.” Instead, he “poured himself out and took the form of a servant… becoming obedient unto death, even, the death of the cross” – (Philippians 2:6-8).

Shortly before his death, he broke bread and told the disciples to eat it, “for this is my body,” then he passed the cup and told them to drink its contents, “for this is the blood of my covenant.” Once more, he used language from the Book of Isaiah that described the “Servant of the LORD”:

  • I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness and will hold your hand, and will keep you and GIVE YOU FOR A COVENANT OF THE PEOPLE, for a light of the Gentiles” – (Isaiah 42:6, Matthew 26:26-28).

After his resurrection, Jesus received “All authority in heaven and on earth.” He had become the Messianic King. Therefore, he sent his disciples to proclaim the Good News to “all the nations.” He has been doing so ever since.

His enthronement came only after paying this great price - his unjust death on the Roman cross. It is this same suffering “Servant of Yahweh” who now sits on the Throne of David reigning over the nations of the Earth.

Jesus of Nazareth is the Servant of the LORD who “gave his life as a ransom for many.” Neither his identity, mission nor his reign can be understood apart from his sacrificial death. His life is now the pattern for how his disciples must live in this sin-dominated world, at least if they desire to remain his disciples.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Son of David - (Jesus is the son of David and heir to the Messianic Throne, the beloved Son of God, and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh)
  • His Present Reign - (The PRESENT reign of Jesus began with his exaltation to the messianic Throne following his death and resurrection – Psalms 110:1)
  • Servant or Caesar? - (Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power to achieve his messianic mission if only he acknowledged the Devil as his overlord)

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