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: “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, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:5-7)
In the first part of Isaiah 42, God spoke about Messiah, his chosen one in whom he delights and on whom he has put his Spirit. Now he speaks to him. It is a most solemn occasion and God recounts the basis of his authority for what he is about to convey to him. He speaks expressly as the creator of heaven and earth, the giver of life and breath to all who walk the planet. There is none higher, none mightier, none that compares to him in any way.
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness,” he says. It is out of his goodness, justice and rightness that he commissions Messiah. It is a powerful display of his holy love. So he commits to lead him as by the hand, and to guard him on through to the completion of his mission.
“I will … make you to be a covenant for the people.” Our LORD is a covenant-making God who commits himself to his people to always do them good. Now he comes to the final, once-and-for-all covenant, the new covenant he promised through the prophet Jeremiah. But Messiah is not just the one through whom God makes this final covenant. Messiah himself is the covenant, in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled.
Lord Jesus is the promise of God’s deliverance of his people, but more than that, he himself is that deliverance. He is the one whom God has sent to open blind eyes, free the captives and release those who dwell in the bondage of darkness. He is the light of God’s glory, revealed even for the sake of the pagan nations, which is to say, the Gentiles, to bring them out of darkness.
The solemnity with which God makes covenant is revealed by the offering of sacrifice, the giving of life, the shedding of blood. In this new and final covenant, by which God forever delivers his people, Jesus himself is the sacrifice, and the blood by which this covenant is cut is his own. This is made plain by Jesus at the Passover meal, on the night he was handed over to wicked hands — the night before he was crucified:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20).The giving of his body and blood is the covenant act by which Jesus the Messiah delivers us from the bondage and darkness of sin and death, and in partaking of his covenant meal, we participate in the reality and presence of that deliverance and reveal his light to the world. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,” Paul says, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).