‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it’ (Nelson Mandela). Ask God to make you brave in his service.
15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
21 In his name the nations will put their hope.’
The more Jesus exposes the deadness of the Pharisees’ practices, the more they plot against him (v 14). To be fair, they probably expected the awaited Messiah to identify with them, the upholders of the faith. But Jesus was never going to cosy up to powers of his day. Isaiah’s prophecy explains this (vs 18,20). Jesus is a servant with a concern for the broken and needy. How does he show this (v 15)? By healing all in the large crowd who were ill – all!
After the healings, Jesus warns the crowd not to tell others who he is (v 16). Why wouldn’t he want to promote a public ministry? Jesus is operating with different priorities, ones that will ultimately take him to the cross. But if he’s killed before time or the crowd rise up and make him an earthly king, it won’t be according to God’s timeline or his greater vision for the Messiah. So, what has happened here is part of a much bigger picture. He’ll bring ‘justice through to victory’ (v 20) with hope for all nations (v 21). The Son always pleases the Father (v 18; John 8:29).
As Jesus experienced, being God’s servant doesn’t always make you popular! How might you demonstrate God’s kingdom in the way you serve him today?
Deeper Bible study
What good leaders have you come across in your life? Remember some of the things they did to help you and others and give thanks for them.
What qualities does our society attribute to a strong leader: assertiveness, confidence, someone who takes no messing and gets things done? Many in Jesus’ day expected their Messiah to be like this: a kingly warrior who would bring judgement to the world. However, Jesus did not see himself as this kind of Messiah and he ordered the crowds not to tell others who he was, because he knew they would have this wrong perception.
Jesus may not have matched people’s ideas about the Messiah, but he did fulfil the expectations of Scripture: Matthew identifies him with the Suffering Servant spoken about by the prophet Isaiah and shows how Jesus was like this figure. He did not seek to draw attention to himself by announcing his presence in the streets with triumphant cries and trumpet calls. Neither did he lose patience with the weak and condemn the failing, despite being without sin himself. When he learnt of the Pharisees’ plots against him, he simply walked away (v 15) even though he could have avenged himself against them. He certainly had the power and authority to dominate and subdue his enemies, as was traditionally expected of the Messiah. The incredible power he possessed is clear from the miracles he performed and the authority he had over demons. He was the very Son of God but did not lord it over people. Instead he showed humility, gentleness and love. These may not be the first characteristics that spring to mind when we think of successful leaders, but they were Jesus’ qualities.
How far do our ideas of leadership differ from the world’s and in what ways do we seek to follow Christ’s example in any leadership roles we have?
Dear Lord, transform our thinking about leadership and power, so we see it in terms of serving rather than lording it over others. Help us to follow your example.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Job 5,6; Luke 15
Pray for Scripture Union
Local Mission Partner Brentwood Schools Christian Worker Trust is thankful that they were able to create digital It’s Your Move resources last year and is delighted to support Year 6 pupils of the Brentwood area with IYM lessons and books again this year. Please pray for these lessons.