It's All About the Little Things
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Matthew 12:17-23 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4: “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. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”
The reminder from the Old Testament of the nature of the Messiah’s coming should have calmed the fears of the political hierarchy at least. There was no rebellion being planned, no subversive activity, no demonstrations in the street, no coup in the making. There was no violence being orchestrated. The mission was to restore, to renew, to remake by the same gentle touch that healed the sick of all their infirmities.
This was righteousness (justice) not revolution.
Though the authorities refused to recognize Him and the people may have had physical healing rather than spiritual healing in mind as they followed Him, the demons knew who He was and called Him by name: “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was” (Mark 3:11, 12).
But the prophecy from Isaiah pointed out something that the Jews had difficulty accepting, quite apart from their refusal to recognize their Messiah. The hope was for all the nations not just the Jewish one. Israel had come to think of itself as exclusively God's. But in Christ there was hope for the weak and marginalized, for the despised and isolated within the nation as well as outside of it.
Paul sums it up this way: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…” (I Corinthians 1:27, 28).
Our tendency is to choose the best, the finest, the most intelligent, the strongest. Anything deemed useless gets tossed aside. His plan was to choose the opposite and embrace what the world would throw away. Why? 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 finishes the statement we just read by giving us the reason for His choice: “…so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
The road to greatness does not lie in more striving and self-improvement, more productivity or more education—as good as all that might be. Greatness lies in less. It begs for less of me and more of Him. It encourages my weakness and His strength. It rests on my inability and His ability. It hinges on my letting go and His taking hold.
Who would have thought that being a “bruised reed” or a “smoldering wick” would be a blessing? But those are the things through which God’s glory can be best displayed.