“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 “I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”
This year’s theme is “Knowing Christ”. Knowing Christ is the most basic and important thing for us. It is foundational to our Christian life.
What does it mean to know Christ? Knowing Christ is knowing God. We often wonder how we can really know God. God came to us in Christ so that we may know him. God didn’t hide and expect us to figure him out. When we know Christ, we know God.
Knowing Christ doesn’t only mean knowing Jesus though. There is a subtle difference. Jesus Christ is not Jesus’ full name. Many people think that, surprisingly. Christ is a title which signifies who Jesus is. So, Jesus Christ is Jesus ‘the’ Christ. Another word for Christ is ‘Messiah’ (Saviour). Matthew mentioned it in his story of Jesus’ birth.
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah (Christ) took place in this way…Matthew 1:18
To know Christ is to know Jesus who is our Saviour. To know his power that saves us from our darkness. When we know Christ, we experience his transforming power. We come to know him as our Lord and Saviour. That is the greatest and the most important thing in life.
So that’s what we will be doing this year. Knowing Christ. We will reflect on what Scripture tells us about Christ. We will look at the Gospels together, in my Sunday messages and our upcoming Bible studies. I’m excited to take this journey with you. I hope you are excited to know who Christ is too.
But today, we start from the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah tells us about a SERVANT. He gives us a picture of what this servant is like. It’s a long passage – he says many things. But I want to focus on this aspect.
He will not shout or cry out,Isaiah 42:2,3
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…
What kind of servant is Isaiah speaking about? A servant who will not come shouting and raising his voice, who will not break a fragile reed or put out a dimly burning candle. What would be the word that best captures this servant?
GENTLE. Isaiah is describing a ‘gentle’ servant.
Isaiah doesn’t tell us who this servant is. But in the context of the whole Scripture, we usually connect Isaiah’s servant to Jesus. We believe that Isaiah was speaking about Jesus who was to come. Jesus came to this world as the gentle servant.
Jesus embodied gentleness. He did not treat people aggressively or however he wanted. He treated them with gentleness. He respected them, no matter who they were. He welcomed them and was kind to them. He was especially gentle with those who were powerless, weak, and vulnerable. By bruised reed and smoldering wick, Isaiah was speaking metaphorically of such people. He even said that he himself was gentle at heart.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28, 29
Jesus was gentle because he was able to understand the brokenness of others and embrace them in love. That’s what gentleness is. Gentleness isn’t only reserved for those whom we like. Gentleness is for everyone—including our enemies. Jesus didn’t leave his disciples, even when he knew they were going to betray him. He ate with them and washed their feet. Jesus didn’t retaliate with violence and anger when people mocked and ridiculed him. Even on the cross, he did not curse them. Instead, he asked God to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. Jesus lived out gentleness in his life.
I said earlier that Isaiah’s ‘servant’ referred to Jesus. But it has another meaning. The word ‘servant’ in the passage means: God’s AGENT who does God’s work in the world. That means like Jesus, we are also called to be gentle. Jesus came as a gentle servant so that we can also be gentle with others.
When I look around us, I don’t see a lot of gentleness. I see a lot of anger, hatred, aggression and hostility. People treat each other as enemies more than friends. Would you agree with that? This week alone, two men got into an argument at Bloor-Yonge station and one man ended up pushing the other onto the train tracks. It’s not clear if the two men knew each other. But what could have been resolved through a gentle act of understanding quickly escalated into an act of violence.
I also see that we are not gentle with people closest to us. With our families and friends. We are so used to having them around us that we can be blunt, critical, and insensitive to them. We sometimes forget that they are human beings who need us to be gentle with them.
Bring gentleness to those around you. Be a gentle presence for others. Being gentle is not about saying nice words. Being gentle has to do with who you are.
Why is it that you guys love being on couches and comfy chairs? Because they are comfortable. You feel safe and protected. You feel like you can relax. You feel surrounded by gentleness. Don’t you want to be that kind of presence for others?
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.Ephesians 4:2
Be someone who embraces others fully, including their faults. There is a Korean word for it (감싸준다). When you see someone stumble and make mistakes, don’t ridicule them. Instead of judging purely by what you see on the outside, try to understand what they might be going through. Embrace them as God has embraced you in Christ. Bear with them in love. It takes humility and maturity to be a gentle person.
Gentleness is cultivated in the Spirit. Don’t seek to be gentle by your own effort. Otherwise it will feel cheap, forced, and sentimental. St. Paul said gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Spirit is the spring from which gentleness flows. Isaiah said God would put his Spirit on his servant. Jesus began his ministry by receiving the Spirit at his baptism. Jesus lived out gentleness with the help of the Spirit. Jesus gave us the Spirit so that we can be gentle with others.
If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate (Helper, Spirit) to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.John 14:15-17
I encourage you to begin every morning with this prayer: “Dear God, fill my heart with your love so that I can be gentle with others.” Gentleness is not an impulsive reaction – it is a choice. There is strength in gentleness because it comes from love. God will fill your heart with love. God will show you how to be gentle with others.
Be God’s gentle servant wherever you go. Your gentleness will touch people’s hearts. Your gentleness will empower them. Through you, they will experience the gentle power of Christ.