The challenge was one of timing.
Jesus was traveling the nation of Israel preaching the Good News and performing miracles. It was hard to keep this sort of thing quiet. His fame spread with every healing, every deliverance, and every joust with the leaders who opposed Him. Still, the climax of the growing conflict with the powers of men must wait until the right moment. To this end, Jesus sought anonymity.
When He realized the healing of the man with the withered hand had prompted a plot among the Pharisees, He withdrew from that village. Multitudes followed Him and Matthew makes a most sweeping statement:
“He healed them all.”
He also asked them to keep quiet about it. Matthew states that a prophecy of Isaiah was at work here. The Messiah would be the Lord’s Servant and God would be pleased with Him. The Holy Spirit would rest upon toward an unusual end—“justice to the Gentiles.”
Every Jew was taught that Gentiles were the enemy. There was much well-rehearsed history to validate this view. Forgotten in their daily struggles to be the People of God, was God’s original intention that the nation of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests to the rest of mankind. It was only after the shameful worship of the golden calf at the foot of a stormy Mt. Sinai that God assigned the priesthood to the Levites. Jesus, the promised Messiah, was bringing the Kingdom of God to the whole world, not just to Israel. The New Covenant would make this clear.
Isaiah is one of the great poets of the Old Testament. Listen to his description of the ministry of Messiah—power clothed in gentleness.
- “He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.”
- “A bruised reed He will not break…”
- A “smoking flax He will not quench;”
- “He will bring forth justice for truth.”
Matthew, perhaps using a different translation, adds:
- “He sends forth justice to victory,”
- “and in His name Gentiles will trust.”
Now we can see why Jesus dealt so gently with people, even those who accused Him or sought to discredit Him. The time would come when He would confront His enemies but the order of this day was to preach the word, heal the sick, deliver the possessed, and do this with anonymity.
What do we learn from this?
We learn to let the Spirit of God do the work! Jesus was the Christ—the Anointed One! The power of the Holy Spirit was at work. Publicity was not needed. Promotion was never even a thought, let alone a priority.
We also, following in the footsteps of the Gentle Jesus, rest in the power of the Holy Spirit—our Anointing! If we are for real, people will know without having to be told. Our deeds of mercy—our cups of cold water—will make room for us in the hearts of those we meet. They may make fun of us, but our lack of reprisal will disarm them and they will know that they have met a real disciple of Christ. The offered cheek, the surrendered cloak, the second mile will testify of Jesus and by them we will tell His Story.
But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust.”
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
Lord Jesus, give me the gift of gentleness. May Your astounding grace mark my life. Help me turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and give more than was demanded as a witness to You. May my life reflect Your life. Give me the words to speak into the lives of those You put into my life. Show me every day the deeds of mercy I can perform to ease the pain of those in my pathway. When the time comes to speak of You as the source of my life, my words and deeds will be in perfect harmony. Like You, Lord Jesus, let me fade into Your glory; let me become anonymous! All for You, Lord Jesus, all for You. Amen.
To Be Like Jesus
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus,
All I ask is to be like Him.
All through life’s journey
From earth to glory,
All I ask is to be like Him
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.