Service and the Servant of the Lord

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Significance of the Servant of the Lord

We turn again to the prophecies of Isaiah, the prophecies of Isaiah and chapter 9, at verse 6: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with judgement and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this."

Chapter 61: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn...", and so on.

We are being engaged in this conference at present, with "The Servant of the Lord". The basic fragment is from chapter 41 [should be 42] of these prophecies: "Behold My servant".

When we put these two passages that we have read together, a question arises. If He was all that which we have in chapter 9, "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace" - if He was all that, why was it necessary for Him to be anointed with the Holy Spirit? For it is the same Person in chapter 61 as in chapter 9. Is not that description of Him the description of One who is perfectly Self-sufficient? What could be added to that? What necessity had He to be anointed with the Holy Spirit? And of course the answer is found in the chapters between those two, and especially in what we have called "The Servant chapters".

The Servant of the Lord

The capacity in which He came into this world, as He took upon Him the form of a bond-slave, His life, ministry, work here were not in virtue of His essential Deity, not in the virtue of His Personal, inherent Godhead, but here as a Man - servant-wise - everything was done and His whole life lived, in virtue of an endowment, an anointing.

He Himself very forcefully repudiated and undercut any idea that He was able to do, or to say, anything out from Himself. Even in speaking of Himself as the Son, He was emphatic in saying, and repeatedly saying: "The Son can do nothing out from Himself". He described Himself as "meek and lowly in heart", and that is the language of dependence, not of self-sufficiency. And here is something, dear friends, which is very important for us to recognise, and especially so for ourselves: Jesus was different from other men, and He was more than other men. That difference was either definitely recognised and noted, or it was subtly sensed by the people of His day; He was different. He was different. He was different in His mental faculties. His wisdom, and knowledge, and understanding were of a different order; it was not "of the schools" - "Whence hath this Man this knowledge, having never been taught?" In other words, "having never been in the school". The most subtle attempts to trap Him and ensnare Him in arguments, and to corner Him by the best brains of the nation, found them very quickly in the corner, and He out in the open, and they had to go away, again and again, completely worsted. But it was of another order; it was different.

This difference was found in His spiritual faculties: His discernment, His perception. How often it is said: "And Jesus perceiving their thoughts...", before anything was said! "Knowing what was in their hearts..." - His judgment of situations; it was different.

The difference was found in His sympathetic faculties - His understanding of people. What a lot His disciples owed to His understanding of them. His understanding, His compassion, His forbearance and patience; He was different. Ask yourself how you would have acted, even in the case of the twelve. But it is written over all their difficult make-up, over all the trouble that He had with them: "having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them to the end"! He was different.

And I think we could say that He was different in His physical capacity, His powers of endurance, and what He achieved in so short a time, even physically, it's a study in itself. We knew of His nights in prayer, without any relaxation; a continuous drain upon Him. It made its mark, we know, but nevertheless, there is something different here in every part of His being; that is what I am saying.

And then, He had a significance amongst men which was unmistakable.

This One Signified Something

He was not lost in the multitude and in the mass; but He was unmistakably significant. He made an impression, there was an impressiveness which was unavoidable wherever He went. Yes, He was different, and He was more.

And yet, and yet, let it be clearly understood, that it was all derived. It was all derived, it was not just a man, but it was a Man with God united! It was a Man, who was not Himself extraordinary, but was extraordinary because in the anointing God had joined Himself with Him as a Man. It is not here, I'm saying, His essential inherent Deity, it is His Manhood with God added. It was derived. And, from beginning to end, He was in a state of complete dependence upon that Other than Himself. If that is not true, then He cannot help us. But that is true, and that is just where He does help us.

Yes, He was not just an extra-ordinary man amongst men. He was a Man, but a different Man. There was this difference. In Him was recovered the man that God intended every man to be, and God never intended every man to be God, or Deity. God intended from the beginning to have man with Himself in union; and here He is - here He is: the man, of God's original intention and thought, recovered.

Hence, there are two things that the Bible (shall we say the Holy Spirit) takes very great care to make clear about Him. The first thing is: the denuding of Him of all things which other men require for significance. For having or taking on any significance, other men must have certain things. Well, they must have education - the education of the schools; they must have money or riches; they must have, perhaps, "birth" and what that means: position, important friends and helpers, friends at court, influence at work on their behalf, patronage. Or they must be possessed of forcefulness of personality and assertiveness. All these things are the things, and others with them, that other men must have - some or all - to give them significance. Take all these things away and the very foundations of human accountableness are removed. But what we have is a very careful, and meticulous, and thorough denuding of Him of all those things; He hadn't one of them.

He was "a root out of a dry ground", that is, as to where the House of David had come; so that all that had been in past generations was now dried up. He had nothing by birth, only something remote from His present position. He had no riches. He had to work a miracle to pay a tax! He had no riches. He had no education in the academic sense, they recognised this, "having never learned". No doubt He as a boy did His amount of schooling, but that is not the thing we are talking about. It is this "higher" realm that you must have in this world, if you are going to count for something. No, He had no patronage, He had no influential friends, no friends at court. And these other personal things were lacking: no forcefulness of His own, or assertiveness. Listen: "Behold My servant, whom I uphold; My chosen, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him ... He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench..." that's not personal assertiveness, and forcefulness, and obtrusiveness, and ostentatiousness, but quietness, reserve, gentleness....

No, all this from birth to cross, is one story of how utterly lacking in His case were all those things which go to make a man important in this world, to give him any significance. And yet He was more significant than all the others, but His significance, His accountableness, rested upon nothing in this world; it rested upon another basis altogether. How meek and lowly He was! How unassuming - unassuming, unobtrusive and quiet - yet how forceful!

All that I have said, to which much more could be added about the impact and registration of this Man in this world, could not be exaggerated. He, in a phrase, "could not be hid". He sometimes tried to hide Himself, but He just could not be hid in that right sense.

The second thing that is made so clear about Him is the place that the Holy Spirit had in His life from birth onward.

Everything is Attributed to the Holy Spirit

From infancy to manhood, and then in His public work from the Jordan onward, it's all attributed to the Spirit. His whole significance then, is made perfectly clear: as resting upon the Holy Spirit and not upon what He was Himself as man. I know the dangerous and delicate ground that I am on, but you will have sufficient understanding I am sure, to see what I mean. Yes, and in the last terrible moments, the momentary withdrawing of the Spirit, momentary, but very real; the momentary withdrawing of the Spirit, His forsakenness found Him as capable of despair and brokenheartedness as any other man! He tasted the despair that any other man can know, and outside of Christ will know, when made fully alive to separation from God.

Yes, all that, but what is the message for us? What is the message for us? And it has a message for us.

Firstly, this same anointing is the new-birth right of every consecrated believer. No mistaking that if you read your New Testament. The Holy Spirit is the birthright of every born-again and consecrated child of God - the same Spirit. And that means that if we have that same Spirit as He had, and He has only recovered to God the kind of man that God ever intended us to be, we have received the Spirit. That Spirit gives a significance to us which is other than more, which is different and extra. Every child of God and every consecrated believer, ought to be different, and more, than other people, as He was. John says: "As He is so are we in this world." It should be like that.

Every one should take on a significance that is different, and that is more; if you like, that is 'super-human', or 'supernatural', that is more and other than we are when we are not born again. Perhaps that needs very little emphasis, but you see where that leads us. This is a fact (I do want you to take hold of it and believe it) - grasp it in faith that in union with the Lord by the Holy Spirit, you and I are supposed, in our very constitution by new birth, to be different from others, and more than others, with faculties that are different, and that are more. It's the birthright; it's not the extra gift, it's the birthright; it ought to be in us by second nature - the second nature being the Divine which comes by the Holy Spirit.

But note: this significance is unique; it cannot be accounted for on any natural ground whatever. The child of God, the Holy Spirit indwelt and governed believer, is inscrutable, as He was. They just could not get to the bottom of Him; they were defeated in every attempt to understand and explain Him. They had, again and again, when they tried to reduce Him to their level, to bring Him within their compass, they had to just give it up and go away. There's something here that is not of that with which we are familiar; it's different. It's a significance that is unique; it's not just natural.

What does this amount to? Well, dear friends, it amounts to this, it means this so far as we are concerned, that there should not really be one insignificant person in the family of God. That on one side. Will you, will you believe that? Will you take hold of that? There should not be one insignificant member of this family.

In so many local families, there are always many who are just occupants of the chairs; just there, whose voices you never hear in prayer or worship, whose presence may or may not mean much. I do want to say to you all, that, from God's standpoint, you matter, you matter. You count, and you are intended to count. Do you really believe, do you really believe that if the Holy Spirit of God is in you, is resident within you, that that makes no difference, and gives you no greater value? Do you really believe that? Are you quite ready to accept that you don't count, that you're an insignificant person who doesn't matter very much, or anything at all? The very, the very truth of the anointing forbids any such idea. But note: this significance is not something "put on". God forbid that anything that I should say should have the effect of making you assume some position, and try to be something. There is no need to assume, there is no need to presume, there is no need to pretend, there is no need to pose, there is no need to assert yourself, you need not take on uniform, or voice, or anything else, to take on the highest significance - these are all the artificial ways of making people important, and bringing them into prominence, or their trying to gain some notice. It is all false. You need nothing of that at all.

You may be the humblest, you may have nothing by birth, nothing by education, nothing by your status; nothing at all of wealth, or of popularity, or even of personality, and you may count more than those who have all those things without this: the indwelling Spirit. And you're supposed to, supposed to. It is spontaneous and it is unconscious. It's unconscious, you need not try to be a leader, and take on the ways of a leader, and the voice and so on; something feigned, a pose. Get rid of all that. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, and you are under the Holy Spirit's government, though all unconsciously, there's a significance about you, and an influence, and a meaning in your life, that is more than that of all those who have all the other things without the Spirit.

We need to be redeemed from our inferiorities, as well as from our superiorities, and come to this basis of the Servant of the Lord who wrought so mightily in His servanthood. In His servanthood, not as a despot, not as one of the world's monarchs, not as one of the peers of knowledge and education, and worldly wisdom; not in any of those capacities, but as a servant, leaving His mark upon this world. A servant - a bondslave - oh what, what? A bondslave, just leaving an impress everywhere, but all unconscious. That's the holy thing about it.

Immediately we become self-conscious in any work of the Lord, drawing attention to ourselves, or assuming something and becoming artificial, we just do despite to this Spirit of the Lord. But, all unconsciously led and governed by the Spirit, there's something, something about us and if we were asked to define it, the only thing that could be said is: "The Lord is with him; the Lord is with her". That's all: you meet the Lord. Ah, but what an immense thing that is to be able to say that about anybody! You just meet the Lord in that brother, or that sister. The Lord is with them. That is the essence of significance. That is the very meaning of "leadership". We are not looking for leaders to assume leadership, and to take on all those things which men regard as marks of leadership. We are looking for men and women of this one thing: you see the Lord is with them! You go to the Bible, you'll find that that's the definition of all leadership, the explanation of all leadership - the Lord was with him. The Lord was with him! It's not just natural, in many cases the natural was lacking, but they counted. In other cases, there were many natural things there, but their leadership could not be attributed to that. It was the Lord. They wouldn't have got through; Moses would not have got through with all the learning of the Egyptians unless the Lord had been with him. With it all, again and again, he was at the point of despair, and breaking down, and giving it up. It was the Lord. It was the Lord.

And so it was with the Lord Jesus. Think not you that He worked and lived and got through to the end because of what He was as a man in Himself. The verdict of the apostle about Him was: "For God was with Him." For God was with Him! Himself He said: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because..." - all that followed was that, "Mighty, Counsellor, Father of Eternity, Wonderful..." and all the rest yet brought to the point, the place, of a dependence which gave Him His real significance. Just that.

And I say again, dear friends, there should not be an insignificant one in the family of the Lord. But the significance is spiritual and not natural; it is heavenly and not earthly; it is more; it is other. May the Lord make us all, every one, a significant one, in the right sense.

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