Sent To Glorify The Father

Isaiah 42:1-9

Rev. Bryn MacPhail

Being that this is the 5th week we have studied the purposes behind the first coming of Christ, we might expect to have a handle on why the Son of God came to earth . We know that Jesus did not come to fulfill some divine public relations strategy. We know that Jesus did not come as some divine experiment to see, first hand, why humans behave the way we do.

If I were to ask you, 'Why did the Son of God come to earth?', what would your answer be? I trust some of you would say that Christ came to bear our sins. I expect that some of you would say that Christ came to forgive us of our sins. In doing that, some would say that Christ came to gather and shepherd His flock. Still others, I trust, would say that Christ did not simply come to get us out of trouble--He came to make us righteous.

The Son of God did, indeed, come to do these things. The question is, what ultimate end did God have in mind when He sent His Son to bear and forgive our sins? What ultimate end did God have in mind when He sent His Son to shepherd us and make us righteous?

I agree with the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who asserts that, 'It is manifest from Scripture, that God's glory is the last end of . . . the work of redemption by Jesus Christ'(The Works Of Jonathan Edwards , volume 1, 110). In other words, God's ultimate end for sending His Son to earth was to glorify Himself .

This should make perfect sense to us. As Christians, we believe and confess that God is holy and righteous. Being holy and righteous then, it follows that God would delight in that which is holy and righteous. This being true, God must delight in Himself above all things.

If God could delight in anything more than Himself, than that thing would be worthy of our worship. But of course, there is nothing that fits this description. And so for good reason, the first of the ten commandments reads: "You shall have no other gods before Me "(Ex. 20:3).

If it still seems strange to you, that God's ultimate aim would be to glorify Himself, may you be convinced by the many passages of Scripture that attest to this truth. The plain truth of Scripture is that God is relentlessly self-exalting . The Bible commands that we praise and adore Him. The God of the Bible cares immensely about His reputation, His righteousness, and His glory, and He opposes those who belittle it. You can scarcely find a page of the Bible without seeing God excited about God. This is precisely what we find in Isaiah, chapter 42--we see God excited about God.

I am sorry to have to correct the translation of your pew Bibles(NRSV) once again, but it is necessary for me to do so. If your Bibles are opened to Isaiah 42, scroll back one chapter to Isaiah 41. What is missing in the verses I am going to point you to is the Hebrew word, hen , which means "Behold ". What some translators have deemed as an insignificant word, clearly provides a powerful link between chapters 41 and 42.

Speaking about idols and those who worship idols, in Isaiah 41:24, the Lord says, "Behold , you are nothing and your work is nothing at all; whoever chooses you is an abomination ". In Isaiah 41:29, the Lord says, "Behold , they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their images are empty wind ". The very next verse, as you will see, gains its impact from the verses that precede it. In Isaiah 42:1, the Lord says, "Behold , My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one, in whom My soul delights ".

In Isaiah 41, verses 24 and 29, the word "Behold " introduces what angers the Lord. In Isaiah 42:1, the word "Behold " introduces what "delights " the Lord. What we begin to see, in Isaiah 42, is God excited about God.

What is it about the Servant, the Messiah, that "delights " the Lord? The very next sentence, in verse one, provides us with a clue, "I have put My Spirit upon Him ". Why is God excited about His Servant? God is excited about His Servant because His "Spirit " is "upon Him ".

And what will be accomplished by the Lord's Servant? The one word answer is justice . Verse 1, "He will bring forth justice to the nations ".; verse 3, "He will faithfully bring forth justice "; verse 4, "He will not grow faint or be crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His teaching ".

Now I recognize that we naturally think of justice as social justice--as a fair and pure society--but this is not always the intention of the Hebrew word, mispat . Our clue to understanding this particular use of mispat , "justice ", comes from the parallel in verse 4 between "justice " and "teaching "(Motyer, Isaiah , 259).

The word mispat occurs nearly 30 times in Psalm 119(i.e. v.7, 13, 20) and nearly 20 times in Deuteronomy(i.e. 4:1, 5:1) translated, not as "justice ", but as "(God's) ordinances "--or what we would call 'the Word of God'.

Now plug 'the Word of God' back into Isaiah 42. "He will bring forth the Word of God to the nations . . . He will faithfully bring forth the Word of God . . . He will not grow faint or be crushed until He has established the Word of God in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His teaching "(v.1-4).

This interpretation makes perfect sense when we remember that Jesus did not come to set up an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom. This makes perfect sense when we remember that the mission of Christ was not a political mission, but a spiritual mission.

So why did we need the Son of God to come to earth? We needed the Son of God to come because we were all were guilty of idolatry-as the apostle Paul puts it, we "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images "(Rom. 1:23).

The Lord warns us, however, in Isaiah 42, verse 8, "I am the Lord, that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to idols ". And, in verse 12, the people are instructed, "Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands ".

The ultimate end of Christ coming to earth was to glorify the Father . This involved leading a perfect life, it involved establishing God's Word, it involved bearing the people's sins, it involved forgiving those who turned to Him, and it involved shepherding and making righteous those who had turned to Him. Yet, in all of this, the ultimate end of Christ coming to earth was to glorify the Father.

Time does not permit me to direct you to every Scripture passage that affirms this purpose, but let me point you to a few of them. In John, chapter 7, verses 17 and 18, Jesus said to those in the temple, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me . . . He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him ". Jesus, by His own admission, came to earth "seeking the glory of the One who sent Him ".

In John 12, verse 28, Jesus prays, "Father, glorify Thy name ". To that, the Heavenly Father answers, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again ". In what is called 'The High Priestly Prayer' of John 17, Jesus prays, "I have glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do "(17:4).

There is no debating the Jesus accomplished a great deal through His birth, life, death, and resurrection, but what we must not lose site of is His purpose for accomplishing these things. Jesus came to earth "seeking the glory of the One who sent Him ".

In Romans, chapter 3--where Paul is describing how we are saved by faith and by Jesus' atoning death--we learn of this greater purpose behind our redemption. Four times in verses 21 through 26, Paul mentions "the righteousness of God ". In verse 25, after describing how Jesus' death atoned for our sins, Paul explains the purpose of Christ's death, "This(Christ's death) was to demonstrate (God's) righteousness ".

Our self-centred nature, I suspect, has trouble comprehending that salvation is not all about us--it is about God. Salvation is about God and the demonstration of His glory . This is not some new concept, it is a truth that is affirmed throughout Scripture. In Psalm 79, verse 9, the psalmist prays, "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name; And deliver us, and forgive our sins, for Thy name's sake ".

"I am the Lord, that is My name; My glory I give to no other ", says the Lord(Isa. 42:8). God's concern for His own glory is our good news . This is an amazing truth. When human beings act in a self-centred fashion it is almost always to the detriment of someone else. This is not the case with God. God's passion for His glory, rather than opposing love, is the foundation of it. God has chosen to manifest His glory by loving us and by giving us His righteousness.

What is unfortunate about this time of year(Christmas), is how all the wrong things are glorified. This is the time of year when commercialism and materialism are glorified. It is the time of year where family members and family dinners are glorified. It is the time of year when even singing certain hymns and lighting certain candles becomes glorified.

It is easy to say our Lord is not glorified by the way our society celebrates Christmas, but I think we can look a little closer. I suspect that the way we often approach Christmas fails to properly glorify our Father in heaven.

When Jesus was born, angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest heaven "(Lk. 2:14) and, shortly before His death, Jesus prayed, "Father, glorify Thy name ".

From His birth to His death, God's purpose remained the same--the manifestation of His glory.

God's concern for His glory is our saving grace . And if God is concerned about His glory above all else, I must ask the question: Should we not share this concern?