A Probable Sermon and Prayer Delivered by MAX I. REICH, Date and Place Unknown.
The Friend, Second Month 18, 1915; Second Month 25, 1915; and Third Month 4, 1915)

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 4: The 20th Century.

Let us, as servants of God, contemplate the pen portrait given in Isaiah 42 of the ideal Servant. We know but One who fully answered to this holy pattern. The book of the prophet Isaiah is like a picture gallery, and there are two rows of portraits. The first gives us various presentations of Christ in His manifold glories; as the "Babe," the "Disciple," the "Lamb," the "King," and as here, the "Servant." The second is a series answering to the first. They are the "children," the "disciples," the "seed" of the Lamb led to the slaughter, the "princes," the "servants." For there are "brethren" of "the Second Man," who share His glory, and are conformed to His image. They are the fruit of "the travail of His soul," in whom He finds satisfaction. They do not merely admire the pictures. They, by His own eternal Spirit, translate the ideal into the actual. They feel that seeing is not believing. He lives in them and through them, and the Eternal Word becomes flesh again, in the measure in which they hearken and obey that Word.

And now with adoring hearts let us consider our Divine Lord in Servant's form. Let us study His features. He was the Vessel fully at the Father's disposal without a moment's break.

(1) "Behold My servant, whom I uphold, Mine Elect in whom my soul delighteth."

Jesus had not earthly backing. No committee or society supported him. The religious leaders were jealous of Him, and His disciples were of the peasant class of Galilee. Jesus lived a life of poverty. He was born in one man's stable, and buried in another man's tomb. He once had not even a penny, He said, "Show me a penny." There are but few who are willing to follow Him in this.

Jesus lived a life of daily dependence on the Father. Said He, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do, these also doeth the Son likewise." The true sons, the seed of God on earth, have no power, no wisdom, no ability, except as they draw it forth from the Father, in the Father's own time. They are willing to appear foolish and of no account, so that the Spirit of their Father may be the Leader and Worker in them and by them, and that not when they please, but when He pleases. That was the life our Saviour lived on earth, and He over and over again taught His disciples to hate every other. For the Father will not support any other. Only that which He begets and raises up is acceptable to Him. Any ministry which springs from the first birth is rejected like Cain's offering, however beautiful it might appear to the natural eye. The true seed cannot run, pray, worship, preach, or be silent, in their own will. The Divinely begotten life must also be a Divinely supported life. It waiteth not for man, nor tarrieth for the sons of men. This was the life of God's pattern Servant. He was the only perfect slave that ever trod this earth. He uninterruptedly did the will of Another. He could say: "I do always the things that please Him." As the will of the Father was His meat, so He, in doing that Will, became the meat offering. And now He beckons us to follow where He has left the impress of His holy feet.

(2) "I have put My Spirit upon Him." From His birth, according to the flesh, our Lord was "that Holy Thing;" for His very humanity was begotten of the Holy Ghost. And that which is born of God cannot sin. During the years of His gradual growth in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man, the indwelling Father was His Teacher, and He taught the wise hearted Son His "business." "A wise son maketh a glad father," and it was the all consuming passion of this Divine Son to make the loving heart of God as glad as the evil in the world had made it sad. But He had to wait thirty years for the power by which He could go forth to do the Father's works, and destroy the works of the devil, in disease, demon-possession, and death.

Now every true believer has the Holy Spirit in him, but can we also add that every such an one has the power of the Spirit resting upon him? Thou canst not claim this in thine own will and time. As with the pattern Servant, so with thee, there must be a certain ripeness and development of spiritual faculties before one can be entrusted with this dynamite of God. It might do harm otherwise.

The apostles had this enduement and since their day many here and there in apostate Christendom have been raised up in a measure of the same life and power. But, alas! in most instances it has been very fragmentary and feeble in comparison with that supernatural equipment in which the men of Galilee went about. It was really God's anointed Servant, now glorified, reproducing Himself in His members on the earth.

Have we a heart to feel our poverty? Or do we say with Laodicea that we are in need of nothing, when all the time we are blind and poor and miserable, and wretched? How few earnest toilers in the Master's cause feel that their work has been mainly the expenditure of nervous energy and the enthusiasm of the soulish part in them!

God has said that He would put His sevenfold Spirit upon a rod He is on the look out for the lowly; that is why He looked upon a Gideon, the barley cake which overthrew the tents of Midian, and why He spoke through the child Samuel. God wants rods that can be bent and are pliable in His hand. Read 1 Cor. 1 for His choice of instruments. All true servants have always been illustrations of "the weakness of God" and " the foolishness of God." Abraham, waiting for the promised seed; Joseph in prison, waiting for the throne of Egypt; Moses, with his rod, to bring Israel out of captivity; David in his Cave, waiting for the kingdom; Daniel in the lion's den; Paul glorying in his weakness, so that the power of Christ might spread its tabernacle over him.

God's ideal Servant was the rod out of the stem of Jesse. There was a revival movement in Israel; a ministry of repentance; a weeping people were confessing their sins in the river Jordan. And Jesus identified Himself with this movement, this deep bending in a remnant of the people. And that was the moment when the heavens opened, and the Father's voice declared His joy in Him, and the long expected anointing with the Holy Ghost and with power came. And in this too the ideal Servant is our Pattern.

(3) "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." There was nothing of the noisy agitator about the Lord Jesus. He did not advertise Himself. Like the cherubim, who cover their faces and their bodies with their wings, His was a hidden service. He never wrought a miracle to display His power. He never gratified the curiosity of sensation mongers. His deepest utterances were spoken to individuals: to Nicodemus at midnight; to the woman of Samaria at a wayside well. We might have reserved them for some important meeting, where we had an opportunity to shine.

There was a wonderful calm in the daily walk of God's ideal Servant. Men never saw Him in a hurry, or excited, or puzzled, or baffled, or out of humor, or off His balance. Jesus permitted no one to "hustle" Him. He was ever recollected as He said, "I have set Jehovah always before Me, because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved."

Quietness is the high water mark of the power of the Spirit. The spiritual man can afford to be quiet, for he knows God does not require the assistance of the flesh. The Divine Spirit is the gentlest of all beings. His presence in power in a human heart diffuses a calm serenity through all the faculties, even in the midst of the clamorous voices and distractions of a restless world.

God may have spoken to thee "out of the midst of the whirlwind," as He spoke to Job, but there will come a time when, like the man of God on the mount, thou wilt feel "the Lord is not in the whirlwind" any more. He will make Himself known in "a still, small voice," and thou wilt cover thy face with a mantle in the presence of His Majesty.

The judgment ministry of the Baptist was necessary as an introduction, but the deepest in God could not be told out then. The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. John was the porter, but Jesus the Shepherd to whom he opened, and then disappeared. By Him the sheep were led into the pastures of eternal life, and to drink of the still waters which flow out of the depths of God.

The presence of Christ is still discovered in this way, for there is a perfect correspondence between His outward and His inward manifestations. "The kingdom of God" (i.e. His reign in the heart) "cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Become still, and thou wilt discover how near is the Guide, the Teacher, the Comforter, the Friend thou needest. Thou wilt recognize Him in that still, small voice--it may be as a gentle rebuke--in thy heart.

As we come more and more under the influence of this gentle teacher, the fussiness will go out of our lives; we shall come to love stillness and retirement and we shall find rest unto our souls.

(4) "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench." The ideal Servant of Jehovah was merciful and compassionate in His dealings with sinners. The spiritual man will be very tender towards the least and lowliest appearance of that which is of God in any human life. He will not judge readily. He will hope against hope in the most trying cases of wrong-doing. He feels he cannot give up anyone. He does not look upon appearances merely. He weighs against the sad fall, the long struggle and agony of temptation that preceded it. He always appeals to the good in others. The apostle could see Christ, the Hope of glory, in the young converts at Colosse who were so deficient in their Christian experience. He had unshaken confidence in God touching the carnal Corinthians, that in the day of Christ they would be presented "blameless." In Jesus all this came out perfectly. No one had such a hatred of sin, yet no one such tenderness with sinners. He is God manifest in the flesh. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. And God is Love. The heart of God yearns over the bruised and broken children of sin and sorrow, and in Christ Jesus would become bruised and broken bread for bruised and broken sinners to feed upon. O how often we have given our God a false character by our harshness and cold, regal attitude towards others! With what rough and awkward hands we have touched the sores of our brethren and sisters wounded by Satan!

How skillfully did God's Pattern Servant restore Simon Peter! A silent look was enough. He never exposes us to public gaze. He never revealed the name of the woman of Luke 7, or the sinner of Sychar in John 4. A newspaper would give all the defiling details, so that the persons involved could not lift up their heads again in decent society. We need to go to school with our Master to learn mercifulness from His perfect example. He needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. Every human life was to Him an opened book. He knew the secret history of every soul, and had a key to open every private drawer. And who can tell what that must have been to Him, the Holy, Holy, Holy One! But never once did He make a public pronouncement as to anyone's state. Pharisees and scribes, as a class, might be shown to be deceivers of the people, but the individual Pharisee, whom the Father brought across His path, met with nothing but Patience, tenderness, and mercy from Him who came to minister to all, and to give His life a ransom for every man.

(5) "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment on the earth."

Hope is an essential item in the armor of God with which we have to stand against the hosts of darkness. We are on the winning side. The ideal Servant was never discouraged. Bethsaida and Chorazin might refuse His testimonials, but He knew His record was on high, and His work with His God. He already saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. With the Cross before Him He could give thanks, and declare that the Father had committed all things into His hands. And He knew that all that the Father gave to Him would come to Him in due time. King Jehoshaphat sang on the way to victory in the valley of Berachah, but Jesus sang in the way to Gethsemane and Calvary, to what looked like disaster and defeat.

Nineteen centuries has He been waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool; for a spotless and glorious bride to be presented to Him; for Israel to kiss the Son; for the uttermost parts of the earth to be made His inheritance. And if He has to wait another nineteen centuries, He will not fail, nor be discouraged. He will yet stand at the head of a ransomed and renovated universe, and recover all for God in everlasting bliss. This is His goal, and He will reach it, whatever the apparent delay.

The same is true of His work in our lives. For every human being is a microcosm--a little universe in himself; and God has a special plan for everyone. O believe only that He is "the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End!" He worketh in thee both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He created a world out of nothing, and brought beauty out of chaos. He can bring holiness and loveliness out of a life thrown into confusion by sin. He brings out the Divine likeness where we see only Satan's caricatures. All things work together for good to them that love God, that they might be conformed to the image of His son. The Divine alchemist can turn everything into blessing, however mysterious and perplexing. It has been said by another: "As 'the Last,' He will have the last word concerning us--not the enemy, not men, not even we, but He alone. Cain, the fratricide, thought he had uttered the last word about himself when he cried out: 'My sin is greater than that it can be forgiven.' Hast thou spoken the last word about thyself? Have men, has the enemy? None of you have the right to do so--the right belongs to Him only--'the Last.'"

Let Him, the Divine Potter, take the marred vessel of thy life into His skillful hands again, and He will transform it into a thing of beauty, into a joy forever. Take heart again, disappointed one; look up, Naomi, reaping the bitter fruit of past sins; the unseen and undiscouraged Worker has not yet spoken His last word. There is still hope. He has not yet dropped His work. He does not despair of success. "He faileth not." Thou hast not surprised Him by thy frequent lapses. He knew "thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb." But having loved thee, His own, He will love thee "unto the end."

O let us, as His fellow workers, learn from Him to love the unlovely, to carry the weak, to bear with the dull, to be patient with the obstinate, to smile on the unthankful, to overcome evil with good. Then shall we love our fellow men into love, into holiness, into God.

(6) "I the Lord have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a Covenant of the people, for a Light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."

This is the program of the anointed Servant. He is to bring the slaves of sin and Satan into the kingdom of God. He is not a mere preacher or lecturer. He has been endued with delivering power. The eternal Word was clothed in Servant's form, and was in that lowly guise manifested as the Divine Son, that He might destroy the works of the devil. And now the world is anxiously waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, who go onwards on the same lines as the Son in life and testimony, and the strong man must yield up his stolen goods to them as he did to Him.

It was "by the Spirit of holiness" that Jesus was "declared the Son of God with power"--the same Spirit who afterwards raised Him from the dead up to the right hand of God. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;" and by that same Spirit will they be caught up to God and His throne.

When the First-born received the open certificate to His Divine Sonship, at once the prince of this world challenged His title. "If Thou be the Son of God," etc. His brethren, who have the spirit of sonship, must also expect to go through the furnace of temptation. But they stand through His victory on conquered ground. When they have demonstrated that they are of the same order with Him who overcame in the wilderness, in the garden, and on the cross, will Satan and the spirits of the world of darkness give way before these sons of light.

The early Christians did behave themselves in some measure as the fellows of the Conqueror of Satan. They continued His victorious march. But alas! thick darkness has since then overspread Christendom; the ancient glory has departed!

O that the visible and invisible world might once more be compelled to recognize that Christ has a true succession on the earth!

The true servant is to be a deliverer of others. But this will entail suffering. As the ideal Servant became the sacrificial Lamb, so the fellow servants must become living sacrifices.

Abraham was the deliverer of his brother Lot out of captivity, but he had to risk his life to do it. Esther, by her intercession, saved a whole nation from extinction, but she was ready to perish in the attempt to stand in the breach for her people. All true service for others is vicarious. Has there ever been anything accomplished in the kingdom of God that might rightly be called fruit for eternity, that has not its roots in sacrifice? "Without shedding of blood is no remission," no atonement, no life and peace. Quite true. But we may go further,--no true ministry to any soul. It is a costly thing to desire to be a deliverer of others. Jesus found it so. And so will you. It is only as death works in the servant that life can flow from him to others. You cannot be "light," in the midst of darkness, unless you are willing to be consumed in the shining. You cannot be "salt" in the midst of corruption, unless you are willing to disappear.You cannot be "wine" to make "glad the heart of God and man," unless you are willing to be crushed.

(7) "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight....Who is blind, but My Servant? or deaf, as My Messenger, that I sent? Who is blind as He that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's Servant?"

The answer to these questions is Christ, the ideal Servant, and those who work with Him.

The perplexing problem of Divine guidance is solved for all who are willing to become both "blind" and "deaf." These are the conditions, and Jesus fulfilled them both. People make the mistake of looking at the abnormal and sensational as evidences of Divine guidance. Rather trace out the golden clue of the guiding hand of God in thy life in the apparently trivial and ordinary; in that which seems to come of itself, "without hands." How often we read in the holy Scriptures "And it came to pass!" With that which has been the result of human engineering and wire pulling God has, as a rule, very little to do, except to permit it in judgment, as a rod to chastise our self will and haste.

Our holy Master did not watch agreeable circumstances, but the hand of the Father. He did not listen to the approving voices of friends; the direction of the indwelling Father was His only guidance. If human need had been a sufficient claim upon His services, would He not have rushed at once to the dying bed of His friend Lazarus? But the Servant belongs first to His Master, and then to those to whom His Master sends Him. Jesus was One whom the Father had sanctified and sealed for Himself, and thus sent into the world.

Such devotedness and surrender on the part of the servant is not always understood by others. The path of the guided Servant has always been a lonely one. Jesus was intensely lonely; and His manner and methods were "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence," even to His disciples. When responding to the entreaties of Jairus to lay His hand on his dying child, on the way to the house a fresh claim on His services was made by the woman who touched the hem of His garment. That caused a considerable delay. If the ideal errant had not steadfastly watched the Father's will and pleasure, He would have torn Himself away from the woman and hurried to the dying child. But He was deaf to all mere human considerations, and He could afford to be misunderstood in doing the Father's will. He saw and felt the agony in the heart of Jairus, and yet allowed the child to die during the delay on the road. But the Father had the care of His reputation, and the sequel vindicated every step.

          "Blind unbelief is sure to err,
            And scan His works in vain;
          God is His own Interpreter,
            And He will make it plain."

The holy Servant Jesus kept step with the Father, and thus reached the goal the Cross. He might have gone into heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the very Shekinah descended and saluted Him; but the guiding voice led Him onwards to the final baptism and the cup. The Lord God had opened His ear, and He was not rebellious, neither turned away back. He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, He hid not His face from shame and spitting.

A dear, departed friend wrote as follows: "We find but few appearances in the Scriptures of men who kept step with God without a break. Only two out of the 600,000 who had come out of Egypt kept step with God right into Canaan (Num. 26:65). And how often have even we, who are as yet allowed to call ourselves His captives, refused to recognize His pace. Sometimes we preferred to run ahead, and sometimes to lag behind. We were glad to go on with Him till we saw the Cross and the humiliation, and then we quickly saved our lives and took the government into our hands again! How often and how flagrantly we have acted contrary to His Spirit and His ways. We can only marvel at His patience that He has not left us behind, but has waited for us till we came back from our self chosen paths to Himself. But let it suffice from today with this zig zag. Let us break with our own lives, as Jesus did on the Cross with His. (Rom. 6:6) We want to belong to the few who keep step with Him in His self renunciation, in His readiness for sacrifice, in His rejection. Thousands accompanied Him when He entered Jerusalem as King, but only a few when He went out by another gate, bearing His Cross, reckoned amongst the transgressors. The names of those who kept step with Jesus to the Cross have been counted up (John 19:25-26). Of the 5,000 whom He had taught and fed, there was only one, and of the women but few. Paul kept step with his Lord all the way, even to the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be made conformable unto His death.

"It is doubly important to keep step with Jesus in our day, not only because of the many temptations, not only because we can already hear, in the signs of the times, the footfall of the Coming One, but also because Christianity demands a greater devotedness today than it did twenty years ago. For as Christianity in the beginning could only be introduced by means of martyrdom, so only by martyrdom can it be maintained at the end."

Holy Father, make us, Thy poor servants, like Thy Pattern Servant, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May we stand alone, if need be, as He stood alone, having Thee as our only support. Anoint us more and more with the same Spirit that rested upon Him without measure. Make us quiet as He was quiet; merciful and tender as He was merciful and tender; hopeful and undiscouraged in the darkest hour. May we, too, be deliverers of others, binding up broken hearts, and healing such as are oppressed by the Devil. And, above all, let Thy Spirit be the unfettered guide of our lives, after the pattern of that life, constraining us to follow His holy steps. Amen.