In a world that is desperately looking for hope, Jesus is that hope!
1 Samuel, chapters 30-31; 1 Chronicles, chapter 10; Matthew, chapter 12
Matthew 12:15-21 (NLT):
But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to reveal who he was. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.”
In the NLT, this passage is titled, “Jesus, God’s Chosen Servant.” Jesus is God’s Chosen Servant; he fulfills the Servant passages in Isaiah. Verses 18-21 quote Isaiah 42:1-4, the first of those “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. But as we read this passage today, it’s important for us to understand what it means for us to be like Jesus. After all, God calls to be like him; what does this passage tell us about Jesus that we can emulate?
First, although none of us are the only-begotten Son of God, God calls all of us to be servants. Jesus made it clear during his ministry that he came to serve, and he calls all who follow him to do the same. Second, we too are beloved of God. God loved us enough to send Jesus so that we might have life (John 3:16). He demonstrated his love for us by sending Christ to die for us even when we were still in open rebellion against him (Romans 5:8). Third, Jesus promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit – a promised which was fulfilled at Pentecost. Every follower of Jesus has God’s Spirit in them!
After declaring that God’s Spirit would be upon the Servant, Isaiah announces what the Servant of the Lord will do. First, he will proclaim justice to the nations. Jesus came to announce “good news to the poor” as part of the year of the Lord’s favor, and then he worked to bring that good news to pass. He calls us to join him in that work. Second, he will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. Third, he will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
All of that leads to the final part of the prophecy: Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world. I think we need this reminder! His name is the hope of the world. Not any human institution. No government, nor organization, no individual leader can be the hope of the world. Only Jesus! He calls us to follow His lead!
I think we need this reminder. I was particularly struck by the phrase, he will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. What a stark contrast with those who are hailed as “leaders” in our world! What a sobering reminder of what Jesus calls us to be! Unfortunately, we have too many who seem to believe that they are “doing God’s work” while acting completely contrary to the example of Jesus.
I don’t believe God is reminding us of this so we can chastise those who act this way. I believe God’s reminder is directed to us. WE are not to fight or shout or raise our voice in public, to crush those who are weak, or put out the flickering light of those who are struggling. All of these are ways that we can follow the example of Jesus.
Father, thank you for the example that Jesus set for us – the example that you call us to follow. Guard us against the temptation to adopt the world’s ways, no matter how “important” we think the “goal” may be. You are the Almighty God; you can achieve your purposes without us compromising our witness by acting in ways that are contrary to Jesus’ example. Help us to grasp how Jesus would act in our place today, and enable us to follow his example. Thank you for the reminder that his name is the hope of the world. Amen.
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