‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.’
Isaiah 42:1-4 (NIV)
Read: Matthew 12:1-21
Consider: The Jews’ expectation of the coming Messiah was that he would be a strong leader and commander. This meant that during the occupation of their homeland by the Romans they expected the Messiah to be a military leader who would rise up and overthrow their oppressors.
The religious elite were challenged by what Jesus said and did. His teaching was with authority; unlike their own. He performed miracles; something they were unable to do. This resulted in Jesus and the authorities coming into conflict. In Matthew 12:1-14 we are told two things that incensed the Pharisees and both were done on the Sabbath. Firstly, Jesus’ disciples plucked ears of corn and ate them, something the Pharisees saw as ungodly as their interpretation of Scripture did not allow any ‘work’ to be undertaken on the Sabbath. Secondly, Jesus was willing to heal a man who had a shrivelled hand, again on the Sabbath. Jesus challenged the Pharisees about this to show them that their observance of manmade rules and regulations was contrary to the essence of the behaviour God expected.
The Pharisees were incensed by Jesus’ actions and we are told in Matthew 12:14 that: the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. It is obvious from this that Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they were expecting, or wanted.
Matthew tells us that aware of the Pharisees’ plot to kill him, Jesus withdrew from the situation and although he continued to heal people, he told them not to tell anyone. At this point Matthew quotes from Isaiah 42:1-4 to tell us how Jesus fulfilled this Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah’s prophecy is about the characteristics God’s chosen one would display and Matthew wants us to see that Jesus embodied these characteristics.
Jesus was not ‘all show’. He certainly did incredible things and the people were in awe of him. However, Jesus was not willing to make himself the focus of attention. He knew that his role was to draw people’s attention to his Father. In Jesus was the true picture of meekness, together with his majesty.
It is very tempting for us to want to be the focus of attention in whatever we do in life. However, we should be willing to follow Jesus’ example by standing back so as not to draw attention to ourselves. We need to avoid false humility and to develop real humility by allowing people to see Christ in us and God working through us.
Pray: Father, forgive us when we want to be the centre of attention. May we be prepared to stand back so that whatever we do gives glory back to you. Amen