140112 Isaiah 42:1-7

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Guest Speaker: Pastor Michael Otterstatter on MLC Sunday

Sermon Text: Isaiah 42:1-7
Sermon Theme: Jesus Brings Justice for All

Let your imagination take you back in time to a small pioneer town in the Old West. A dusty street separates the dozen or so buildings that make up the town. Of course there is a general store, a blacksmith shop, a motel, and a saloon. As you ride in on your horse the citizens of this frontier community cower in fear. You can sense the tension they are feeling as they look at you with suspicion. When you finally persuade someone to talk to you the source of their intimidation is revealed. Outlaws, bandits, and renegade Indian bands have constantly threatened the lives and property of the residents. Since this town is on the edge of the frontier there is no law enforcement officer or system of justice. Instead of peace, security, and well being, there is only fear, uncertainty, and unrest.

But just as you begin talking with a resident of the town a man with a shiny, metal star pinned to his chest rides in on a white horse. The attention of everyone in the community is focused on him. He comes with a six-shooter at his side and a rifle tethered to his saddle. He has been given the mission to bring justice to that place. He comes at the direction of a higher authority with the clearly defined task of establishing justice. Under the watchful eye of this lawman a transformation will soon take place in the frontier town. The residents held captive by fear will eventually be able to live peaceful and prosperous lives because of the work of the lawman.

From our thoughts about a sheriff in the Wild West, the Word of God for our sermon today will direct us to the Great Lawman that brought justice to the whole world. He came with the authority and blessing of God the Father Himself. But he did not do his work in the way most people would expect from a bringer of justice. Instead of being ruthless, violent, and unforgiving he established justice in a very different way. And even the justice that he brings is unusual and out of the ordinary. Listen again to our Old Testament for today and picture in your mind the One who came to bring justice for all and how that justice affects people yet today. We ask God the Holy Spirit to increase our faith in our Savior as we again see that:

I. Justice that has the Father's approval
II. Justice that sets guilty sinners free
III. Justice that gives hope and new life

Isaiah's prophecy gives us a profile of Jesus as God's justice bringer. It does this through a series of "servant songs," as they have been called. In addition to the one I just read there are additional descriptions of the Lord's lawman—Jesus. These additional messages about Jesus bringing justice for all are found in chapters 49, 50, 52 and 53. As we read these "servant songs" in Isaiah it quickly becomes clear that the LORD wants everyone to benefit from Jesus' work. Again and again he declares through the prophet, "Look at what my servant will accomplish!"

2700 years after Isaiah penned these words God the Father is still saying to the world, "Look at what my Son has done! Put your faith in what he has accomplished." May we always see and believe that Jesus brings justice for all. He brings justice that has the Father's approval. He brings justice that sets guilty sinners free. He brings justice that gives hope and new life.

When a new sheriff rode into a town in the Old West the badge he wore represented the authority he had been given to do his work. Perhaps a state authority (Texas Rangers) or the federal government (U.S. Marshals) sent him to establish justice in a particular area. Maybe the townspeople themselves hired the man and vested him with the power to carry out his duties. The source of a lawman's authority and his jurisdiction was important. It was important because those who might question or challenge the sheriff's justice needed to know he didn't stand alone or without authority.

Although Isaiah doesn't picture Jesus with a badge he does show the authority with which he carried out his work. God the Father said, "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." To bring justice to the nations God's Son would come with all authority in heaven and on earth. Actually in this verse we see the shared authority of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—all focused on the mission of bringing justice for all. The Father speaks and promises to send the Holy Spirit to equip Jesus for his work. And of course Jesus is the servant the Father is speaking about. Anyone who might question the work of Jesus can be assured that he had the proper authority to carry out his mission. He had his Father's approval and the Holy Spirit's power.

In our service this morning we are considering the formal acknowledgement of Jesus' right to bring justice for all. From Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism which was read earlier in our service we heard that the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him." We were also told that the Father spoke from heaven saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." In our Second Scripture Lesson we heard Peter say of Jesus, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power." Although he was never given the title "sheriff" or "marshal" Jesus was called the Messiah or the Christ. That meant that he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power to bring justice for all. Obviously Jesus never wore a badge but he had his Father's approval on everything he did and said.

Isaiah repeated the awesome truth that Jesus brings justice for all with the Father's authority in verses 5-6 of our Old Testament Lesson. "This is what God the LORD says -- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 'I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.'" Jesus' mission to bring justice to the earth came from his Father already in eternity—before the creation of the world and mankind's Fall into sin. The one who gives breath to the people of the earth called upon his Son to bring justice for all. He promised that he would support him and uphold him in his work until it was completed.

I suppose there are some who might be saying, "So what! What does it matter that Jesus brings justice that has the Father's approval." This truth is meant to strengthen and confirm our faith in what Jesus offers us. What Jesus did stands up before the justice and holiness of God the Father. We can have complete confidence that our trust in Jesus as our Savior is not misplaced.

If we go on to look more closely at the justice Jesus brings it becomes clear why the authority and blessing of the Father is so important. His justice is not the kind that rights all the wrongs in society, cleans up the courts, or gives equal rights to minorities and the downtrodden. In that way Jesus isn't like a sheriff in the Old West. No, Jesus brought God's justice to earth. What is God's justice? To understand it we have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. God said to Adam and Eve, "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17) Those who rebel against God and disobey what he says deserve to receive the consequences of their actions. And according to God's justice the consequences of sin are spiritual, physical, and eternal death. The LORD said through the Prophet Ezekiel, "The soul who sins is the one who will die." (Ezekiel 18:4) In Romans 6:23 the Apostle Paul declared that "the wages of sin is death." There is one demand under God's justice—that is complete holiness. There is one sentence under God's justice for not being completely holy. That is eternal death—eternal separation from God in hell. We can also say that God's justice is stricter than any justice which human courts have demanded. It is absolute and unbending. If we break any one of God's Commandments only one time we must be condemned as guilty. James tells us, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (James 2:10)

So to bring justice to the earth Jesus had to keep all of the Commandments in the place of those who have not kept them. He also had to serve the sentence we sinners deserved for not obeying the Commandments perfectly. Imagine a Texas Ranger, a Federal Marshal, or some other great lawman acting as a substitute for lawbreakers. That would be unthinkable! Or imagine a sheriff volunteering to serve the just sentence of a horse thief, cattle rustler, or bank robber. Would he ever say, "I'll serve your prison sentence for you! I'll even allow myself to be executed for you!" Again, I think we can agree that that would never happen. And yet that is what the One who brought justice for all did. He satisfied all the demands of obedience and served the sentence for our disobedience. That justice sets guilty sinners like us free.

Understanding the way God's justice works is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther described it in this way, "If his justice were such as could be adjudged just by human reckoning, it clearly would not be divine; it would in no way differ from human justice. But inasmuch as he is the one true God, wholly incomprehensible and inaccessible to man's understanding, it is reasonable, indeed inevitable, that his justice also should be incomprehensible." It sure is incomprehensible! The fact that the Father sent his Son to bring his unique justice for our good is beyond our understanding. But it sure is awesome!

The Apostle Paul helps us understand the justice Jesus brought to this world by describing it this way in Romans 3:25 26, "God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice...so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Jesus the bringer of justice allowed the just punishment for sinners breaking the Commandments to fall on him. That gives guilty sinners the right to go free! 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that truth in this way, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Yes, Jesus brings justice for all so that all sinners have been declared not guilty in God's eyes. It is true that those who don't trust in that justice but present their own brand of justice or righteousness to God place themselves once again under God's judgment. Thankfully the Holy Spirit has enabled us to trust and believe that we have been declared not guilty in God's courtroom because of Jesus our justice bringer.

For one last time let's go back to our imaginary town in the Old West. Because of the sheriff that came to the town and established justice the townspeople no longer have to live in fear. Unless of course they don't trust their sheriff, nor believe in his ability to bring justice. Then they would continue to live the miserable lives they had always lived. And if the people rejected the sheriff's justice they would find themselves on the wrong side of the law. They would be on their own for peace and protection. Then they would surely continue huddling together in fear and uncertainty.

In a similar way if a person doesn't trust in the justice that Jesus has brought into the world his or her life will remain unchanged. The whole intent of Jesus' mission was to change the lives of all who trust in him to satisfy God's justice. In our text the LORD said, "I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." When Jesus brought justice for all it was intended to bring hope and new life to all people. That was God the Father's plan.

Although many are not living in the shadow of Jesus' justice are you enjoying it? It is exactly what you need to bring peace to your life. The justice Jesus brings means you don't have to live in fear over the sins you have committed. Satan can attack you with accusations of your sinfulness. But Jesus sends him running. Will something bad happen to you today, or tomorrow, or any time in this new year? Nothing will happen to you that isn't for your spiritual good. God's lawman—Jesus—is in charge. Even your renegade sinful nature has been locked up by Jesus. He or she isn't in control of your life. Any guilt you feel over your sins can be driven away because of the justice Jesus brings. We have been declared not guilty. Today you and I are invited to start living our lives in the justice Jesus brings.

A lawman bringing justice to the Old West had certain tools to accomplish his work. The tools of the trade would likely have been a revolver and or a rifle, a horse, and a rope. He could also deputize people as he needed extra help. If the town he served was big enough he might even have an office with a jail. Jesus didn't come with those kinds of tools to do his work of bringing justice. A sheriff or marshal in the Old West would also have a swagger and an attitude we might say. We would expect that he would have been like Clint Eastwood saying, "Go ahead make my day." Jesus didn't bring justice in that way. Isaiah prophesied about him this way, "He will not shout or cry out, 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; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth." Jesus didn't come with guns blazing. In humility, and quiet service he brought justice for all. He didn't cry out or complain about how unfair it was that he suffered in the place of sinners. And those pitiful souls that are stricken with terror he comforts. In no way does he look out for his own needs. Everything he does is in service to others. According to Isaiah we see Jesus bring justice for all so that all might have hope and new life.

That leads me to one of the main reasons I am here this morning. I have come to you from your college of ministry where we train future soldiers of the cross. At Martin Luther College we are preparing pastors, missionaries, and teachers who will proclaim the justice Jesus brings for all. Today I want each of you to take along one these prayer cards. I also invite you to take a copy of this booklet that outlines the work of MLC and some of the ways you can help us in our mission. Together we will continue to spread the message about the justice Jesus brings into hearts and lives.

Jesus as a sheriff, a marshal, or a lawman? Perhaps we don't normally think of him in that way. He didn't carry a badge or a pistol. He didn't lock people up in jail. He came to set people free. And he brought a type of justice unlike any other. He served the sentence that sinners deserve so they could have hope and new life. Through Isaiah we see that Jesus brings justice for all. He brought justice that has the Father's approval. He brought justice that sets guilty sinners free. He brought justice that gives hope and new life. May we put our faith in that justice and live under it now and forever. Amen.



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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.


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