MATTHEW 12:18c-20a (part one)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matthew saw in Isaiah’s prediction of Messiah a precise picture of what Jesus was. Because Jesus was willing in advance to do anything and everything Father wanted, Father trusted His Servant, His Son, totally (v. 18a), and gave Him, first, infinite power (v. 18b). Second, the Father gave Jesus infinite responsibility.
Matt. 12:18c . . .and He will proclaim justice to the nations.
Jesus was given an assignment worldwide in its scope, a task He later gave to us in the Great Commission. He was to teach all humanity God’s way.
Justice means doing right by God and people. Father gave Jesus the task of telling the whole world how people can be made right with God and each other.
Jesus came to Earth to show all peoples the right and best way to live life. We of European descent owe Him. Before Jesus, our ancestors worshiped goat gods in the black forest of Germany, and sacrificed children on the British Isles.
We often decry tribes like the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs for their brutal forms of worship. Never condescend. Before Jesus, we did the same things. The difference is not any people group being better than any other. The difference is Jesus.
Before Jesus, nobody else had ever cared enough to come and gladly bring the truths of God to rescue us Gentiles. Jesus, God’s Servant, was the first to step happily over the hurdle of prejudice, to come to those of us who were faraway. He was willing to tell joyfully God’s ways not only to Israel, but to the whole world.
If I accurately understand our hearts, we at Second, like our Savior, want to do a great work for the Father. We all pray our lives will count for God. Thursday a young man told me he did not want to wonder at age 60 if his life had mattered.
We want our lives to count, to make a difference. Verse 18 holds the key. Be willing to do anything. Seek God’s power. Discover His specific will for us.
Matt. 12:19 (Holman) He will not argue or shout, and no one will hear His
voice in the streets.
Isaiah predicted Messiah would not try to shout His opponents down. He will speak to persuade, not to infuriate. His kingdom being spiritual, He would not promote it with physical violence or coarse wrangling.
Oh that Messiah’s followers had followed His example. The rage of church leaders, allegedly displayed on behalf of our gentle Savior, is a tragedy of history. It has its own official Latin name, odium theoligicum, the hatred of theologians.
We are not to be utterly quiet about our faith. Silence is cowardice. But belligerence hurts our cause. Our broadcast model is in the parable of the sower, in the farmer who unpretentiously cast seed everywhere. We should humbly publicize Jesus everywhere. His name deserves top billing in the marketplace, in art shows, among sports figures and politicians, in our homes, everywhere.
Advertise Jesus far and wide. When doing so, be gentle and humble, never arrogant or brash. Avoid angry, heated words. Let holy calm mark our innermost self and manifest itself in our words and deeds. Be winsome in order to win some.
Matthew 12:20a (part one) “He will not break a bruised reed.”
In the Bible, a reed often symbolizes weakness. A bruised reed, one bent or broken in some way, pictures weakness at its weakest. Isaiah predicted a gentle, not warlike, Messiah. This for sure aptly describes Jesus, who heals broken lives.
Jesus will not let our spirits be crushed. Our text is meant to comfort us, but consoles us only if we value what Jesus does to us instead of breaking us.
What do we want from God? How do we anticipate Him to act toward us? Are our expectations a wish list we made up out of our own imagination, or are they legitimate due to their being based on what God has promised to give us?
The answers to these questions are critical to our spiritual success. Many renounce their faith due to disappointment in the way they feel God treats them.
Many go awry from their first step in the Christian walk. The initial truth to embrace is, we are first and foremost spiritual beings. We need to assess all of life through this filter. Philosopher Teilhard de Chardin said, “Man is not primarily a physical being having a spiritual experience, but a spiritual being having a physical experience.” Embracing this fact can keep us from a grudge against God.
How we relate to God in bad times depends on whether we see ourselves as spiritual beings with few, not very important physical experiences on the side, or as physical beings with few, not very important spiritual experiences on the side.
If we see ourselves as primarily spiritual beings, then if we have trouble in the physical realm–whether social, health, education, or employment problems–it affects, in our thinking, only a small, less important part of us. But if we view us as mainly physical, then when we have a physical problem in any of these areas, it messes up the biggest, most important part of us, and can consume us with anger.
Indeed Magazine (5-11-6) raises the right questions. “Have you focused your gaze on one little sliver of time riddled with problems and pain? Or have you put down the magnifying glass, broadened your vision, and seen the big picture?”
If we perceive the Christian life as all about us and our pleasure here and now, we will have lots of angry thoughts toward God. Christians who seek only happiness and fun in this world will for a life-time battle frustrations against God.
We believers are never at liberty to set God’s agenda for ourselves. From the first moment of conversion on, our stated purpose is to please God, not us.
God created us, redeemed us, and found us. Having wrought, bought, and sought us, He has earned every right to set the agenda for us. The sooner we grasp this reality, the more contentment we will have.
For a believer, life is a laboratory. Its experiences are crucibles in which character is molded. Events that strengthen our faith we are to deem a blessing.
For Christians, the highest good is not to be happy, but to be made more like Jesus. “Those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
Pastors, to be effective shepherds, have to weather the same troubles the sheep are forced to endure. I have my moments when I want to question God.
Four verses in Psalm 119, the Bible’s longest chapter, help me immensely in my effort to unravel God’s hard-to-understand ways. Look at verse 67. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” One purpose of troubles is to help us keep God’s Word. This comforts us only if we have in advance decided to make keeping His Word a top priority in our lives.
See verse 71. “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.” This is a comfort only if learning God’s statutes matters deeply to us.
Notice verse 75. “I know, Lord, that Your judgments are just and that You have afflicted me fairly.” This comforts us only if we decide in advance His ways are always just and fair. This determination can’t be made in the midst of a storm.
Read verse 92. “If Your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction.” Had the Psalmist ever given up on God and the Bible, and not tried to seek for himself help in God’s Word during afflictions, he would have eventually been overwhelmed by them. Life would have crushed his spirituality.
Instead of breaking the bruised reed, what is Jesus doing? Molding us into His image, encouraging us to keep His Word and learn His statutes, reminding us He is just and fair, plus teaching us our only hope for success is being in the Word.