Whenever servants of the Lord come together and examine what it is that they need to be, there must be a vision of Christ. He is our model. He is the perfect servant, the perfect minister, the perfect shepherd pastor-leader.
And so, as I thought and prayed about what I might bring to you in these wonderful days, I was drawn by the Holy Spirit to this passage, in Matthew chapter 12, which extols the virtues of Christ in a very unique setting.
Let me begin reading at verse 14, “But the Pharisees went out and counseled together against Him as to how they might destroy Him. But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed Him, and He healed them all and warned them not to make Him known, in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, 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 shall proclaim justice’” – or righteousness – “‘to the Gentiles.
“‘He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the heathen will hope.’”
There are many titles that are given to the Lord Jesus Christ in the Scripture. Perhaps none is more wonderful than the title granted by Jehovah God in this text. In verse 18, He calls Christ “My Servant, My Beloved.” The word “servant” is pais in the Greek. Sometimes it’s translated servant, and sometimes it’s translated son. And in Christ’s case, it then becomes the perfect word, because He is the Servant Son. His sonship was associated with His servanthood.
This word appears, for example, in secular Greek, to refer to an especially trusted servant, a noble servant. It is used in the Septuagint, the Old Testament Greek text, in Genesis 24, to speak of Abraham’s chief servant. It is used, for example, of those who attend the king at his court in Genesis 41, a royal servant. It is even used in the Old Testament form to refer to a supernatural servant, namely an angel.
So, here the Father calls Christ “My pais, My Servant Son,” trusted, chief, royal, supernatural Servant. And then He says, “My Beloved.” And the term used is that term for love which we identify as the supreme representation of love, agape. He is the supremely loved one. It is the same term that is used in Colossians 1, which we reach before we sang the hymns, in which it says that God has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Beloved Son.
Elsewhere, God calls Him “My Beloved” huios “My Beloved Son.” Here, “My Servant, My Beloved Son.” It is a reference to the intimate bond of love that exists between the Father and the Son, and beautifully describes the reality of the incarnation, how that Christ, having that love with the Father, face to face, gave it up to come into the world, but was restored to it and exalted highly, as we noted in Philippians 2 earlier.
So, in this passage, Matthew is introducing to us, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, a picture of the Servant Son, the Beloved, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. And as you flow down through the passage, from verse 14 to 21, you will note a number of characteristics of the Messiah. There are at least nine of them.
Now, I realize that is not homiletically acceptable, to have nine points in a sermon, but my homiletics are suspect anyway; so, I shall lose no ground.
As we look at these verses, we want to note the characteristics of the beloved Servant Son, because they become the characteristics that should be true of those who serve Him. He is our model.
The first characteristic that comes out in this passage is this: The Beloved Servant Son was condemned by false servants. The Beloved Servant Son was, first of all, condemned by false servants. This hole description of Jesus Christ here is set in a context of Jewish hatred, Jewish rejection. The Jews had reached a point where they had deemed Jesus Christ to be functioning under the power of Satan. That’s right. They said, “What you do, you do by the power of Beelzebub.” They say that later in this very chapter. “You are satanic.”
And thus, these Jewish religious leaders had concluded the exact opposite of the truth. And it really reveals how far from God they were. The one they were seeking to kill, God was seeking to exalt. And so, the text begins with their plot to kill Christ, and it ends with the Father affirming the ultimate triumph of Christ. They were trying to destroy Him and God had Him set for exaltation.
Verse 14, “The Pharisees went out and counseled together against Him as to how they might destroy Him.” There was a progression here. If you go acknowledge into chapter 11 and you study the first 15 verses, you will find doubt. The people expressed some doubt about Christ. In chapter 11, verses 16 to 19, the doubt turns to criticism. In chapter 11, verses 20 to 24, the criticism turns to indifference.
And then you come to chapter 12, and the indifference becomes rejection. And then starting in verse 22, the rejection becomes blasphemy. The rejection is open now. They had some doubts, the religious leaders did, but they settled them, and they attacked Christ. They were critical. And then there’s a certain measure of indifference. After all, if He’s not anybody special, let’s not get too excited about it. That indifference seems to flow into rejection, and rejection ultimately ends up in blasphemy for which Jesus pronounces on them damnation and tells them basically, “You’ll never be forgiven.”
Luke adds, in the comparative text to the text of Matthew, that the Pharisees, when they met together in this counsel, were – quote – filled with fury. They were in a rage. They were at a white hot level. The would have murdered Jesus Christ on the spot if it hadn’t been for the Roman government, or if it hadn’t been for some spectators who were enamored with Jesus Christ.
The verb here “to take counsel” shows the idea of reaching a conclusion. It isn’t as much a verb that focuses on the discussion as it does the decision. It means literally to come to a conclusion. It wasn’t much to deliberate; they had already pretty well set the deliberations in motion. They knew where they were going with this thing. They had been offended greatly once before because Jesus did some things on the Sabbath. And the plot to kill him had already been hatched, and it now is just moving along, collecting momentum. The only discussion they really needed to take was regarding when and where and how they killed Him; the killing was a given.
Mark tells us, interestingly enough, as he writes on the same incident, that they drew into their plot and their counsel the Herodians. The Herodians were their enemies; they hated them. They were basically irreligious secularists. They were unholy, worldly members of a political party that supported the dynast of a non-Jewish king by the name of Herod who was a thorn in the side of the Jews. The Herodians were their enemies, but at least on this they could agree: they both wanted Jesus dead. He was obviously intimidating religiously to the Pharisees; He was intimidating politically to the Herodians. They could agree on killing Jesus.
And so, the legalists and the antinomians got together. The religionists and the secularists got together, and the common cause was to destroy Jesus to preserve the role of religion and preserve the place of Herod. As you well know, they ultimately carried their plot to its conclusion, killing Christ and sealing their own destruction and, at the same time, the salvation of the elect.
So, as we come into this chapter, we’re finding ourselves at a peak of rejection. The King is now openly rejected. What we read in John chapter 1 has now come to pass, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” All that is left to follow is blasphemy.
And I submit to you that this is a characteristic of the Beloved Servant Son, that He was condemned by false teachers. The Pharisees prided themselves on the fact that they were the sons of God. They made that claim in John 8. Jesus said, “You’re not; you’re the sons of the Devil.” They prided themselves on the fact that they were the servants of God who served God more nobly than anyone else. They surely believed that they were God’s beloved. They saw themselves as the beloved servant sons; they were not, nor did Jesus let them think they were. But always the true Servant Son, the true Beloved will be condemned by the false. That’s how it always is.
The true prophet of God was always attacked by the false prophet, the true shepherd by the false shepherd, the true preacher by the false preacher. The war inevitably comes at that level because Satan wants to counter the true with the false - ultimately, Antichrist, the ultimate deceiving false messiah. The Jewish leaders were nothing more than false shepherds. False shepherds controlled by Satan, deceived, and setting out on a plot to kill the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
So, the first thing we see about the Beloved Son Servant is He was condemned by false servants. The second thing, He was devoted to God’s plan. He was devoted to God’s plan. Look at verse 15. And this is a wonderful truth. “But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there, and many followed Him.” Verse 16 says, “He warned them not to make Him known.” This is interesting. Jesus knew what they were thinking; He knew what they were talking about; He knew what they were plotting. How did He know? The text just says, “Jesus, aware of this” - literally omniscience. John 2, he says nobody needed to tell Him what was I the heart of a man; He knew what was in the heart of a man. John 3, Nicodemus had a question in his mind. Jesus answered the question in His mind, not the question on His lips. He has omniscience, and therefore the power to know what people think. He hears conversations, obviously, other than through His ears at this point.
And so, He withdrew. He knew they were attending to a plan to kill Him. The problem was this was two years too soon. Do you understand that the apex of hostility and hatred and blasphemy against Christ reached this pinnacle two years before they killed Him? And from then on, just escalated. But from then on, He had to be protected, as it were, from an untimely execution; He withdrew Himself. The real reason they were after Him was fear, and jealousy, and guilt.
As you look at those words, “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there,” you have to have a certain sadness in your heart. As Donald Gray Barnhouse said many years ago, from God’s point of view, their clocks stopped. There was nothing left for them but tragedy. Oh, someday in the future, before Jesus comes, the clock will start ticking again for Israel. But it stopped. Tragic.
The pattern – pretty simple: Jesus preaching, positive response, opposition, withdrawal. A new place: He preaches, response, opposition, withdrawal to a new place. He preaches, response, opposition, withdrawal. That cycle went on and on and on over this two-year period. Why? Because God had a plan that couldn’t be violated.
Daniel had even predicted to the very day, a period of 69 weeks, of 7 years, until Jesus Christ would comes King. That had to happen. Every other prophecy had to be fulfilled. The divine timetable must be kept. There couldn’t be a revolution now; there couldn’t be some great battle between Jews and Romans and have Christ get caught in the middle of that. He couldn’t be killed by a mob. There had to be a cross, and it had to be on God’s timetable. Everything had to be fulfilled to the letter, because that’s how God planned it. And Jesus, realizing the time was not then, moved away.
And then He does an interesting thing. He says, “I warn you” – there’s a threat in that verb – “I threaten you, don’t make Me known. This thing has to cool. I’ve got to go away; don’t tell where I am.” He was totally committed to the Father’s will. He would only operate on the Father’s timetable. He said, “My food is to do the will of My Father who sent Me.” Many, many times He said, “My hour is not yet come.” The time was not right. It wasn’t to happen yet. He was completely committed to the plan of God, devoted to God’s timetable. That’s characteristic of the Servant Son, the Beloved one.
First of all, yes, He will be condemned by false teachers. Secondly, He will be devoted to God’s plan at all costs. He stays on the timetable that God has set; He’s willingly submissive and obedient.
If you wonder what He was doing night after night after night after night, when He retreated to the Mount of Olives and fell on His knees before the Father in prayer, you may understand that He was communing with the Father. And part of that communion was to know the mind of God concerning the timing. He wanted to be on God’s timing, not His own. He would offer Himself as a willing sacrifice at the right moment. He would die when death was appropriate. But He was committed to God’s plan. And He didn’t want that disturbing, exacerbating activity that could somehow thwart the plan to happen, so He said to these people, “Don’t make Me known.”
Some people have asked why He said this. And this isn’t the only time He said it. There were other occasions when He said, “Don’t tell anybody what I’ve done; don’t spread this around.” Obviously, He didn’t want such a massive publicity campaign that would – that it would cause some glitch in the divine plan. In chapter 8, verse 4, “See that you tell no one,” He said, after having healed a man, “Don’t spread this around.”
Again in chapter 9, verse 30, “Their eyes were open, and Jesus sternly warned them, saying, ‘See here, let no one know about this.’” Kind of hard for two blind guys who just got their sight to keep their mouth shut. But Jesus was doing everything He could on a human level to prevent an early and untimely execution He wanted to work on God’s timing, God’s plan.
There’s a third element that we see in the character of this Beloved Servant. He was compassionate toward the needy. He was compassionate toward the needy. Would you notice in verse 15, it says, “And many followed Him when He withdrew.” Those were the ones He warned not to make Him known, not to tell the religious leaders where He was or where He was going.
And it says, “He healed them all.” This is a fascinating look at the compassion of Christ. Here He is basically moving away to save His own life. Here He is preoccupied with a massive transcendent and eternal plan of which He is the focal point. Her He is concerned about the burden of blasphemous rejection which He is bearing.
And yet, in the midst of all of that, He concerns Himself to heal them all. Inclusive language. Nobody got left out. This sets Him apart, decidedly, from the Jewish leaders who devoured the poor and the widows, who trampled on the sick, and the infirm, and those who made no major contribution from their viewpoint. They despised people; they bound on them heavy burdens which they were unable to bear. And Jesus condemned them by saying, “And you don’t even do so much as lift a finger to relieve those oppressive burdens.”
What were those burdens? Laws. Man-made laws which they poured out on the backs of people endeavoring to earn salvation with God by achieving the unachievable. And they never helped to lift the burden. That’s why Jesus said, in Matthew chapter 11, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden” - what did He mean by that? Those of you who are sick and tired of trying to earn your salvation by carrying around a massive burden of laws – “and I’ll give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” They had little or no concern for the people. He had deep concern. He showed the compassion of God.
Back in chapter 9, verse 36, it says, “And seeing the multitudes, Jesus felt compassion for them.” He looked at the crowds of Jewish people, and His heart broke because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. The word “distressed” means skinned, flagellated. And the word “downcast” means thrown down. He looked and what He saw was sheep lying around as if they were dead because they had been abused. Flagellated and lying dead. The Jewish leaders were slaughtering the people, trampling them, despising them, but Jesus Christ was the true Shepherd. And the simple statement “He healed them all” tells you of His compassion. Nobody got left out who needed help. That is an insight into the heart of God.
I’ve often thought that when Christ came into the world, there would have been a number of ways He could have demonstrated His supernatural character. If He wanted to prove to the world that He was God, there would have been a number of ways He could have done that. He could have just flown. He could have just taken off and flown up in the air and circled Jerusalem a few times and landed. And I think they would have said, “He’s not a man.”
Or He could have said, “See that building over there? It’s over here,” and relocate it instantaneously. Or He could have said, “See that crowd,” and sent the whole crowd into space, had them fly around Jerusalem for the afternoon and land. There would have been a number of things He could have done, why did He use healing? Why did He do that? Because it not only showed His power; it showed His compassion. It demonstrated the loving heart of God, the tenderness of God toward those who are poor and needy, those who are in pain.
Peter said, “Cast all your care on Him, for He” – what? – “He cares for you.” That’s the heart of God. The heart of God is especially toward those who suffer. The Old Testament says the Lord heals; the Lord lifts up; the Lord raises ups the poor out of the dust; and the Lord lifts up the beggar from the garbage pile. The Lord cares about the people who suffer. And Jesus exhibited the heart of God.
When John the Baptist was in prison, back in chapter 11, he sent word to Jesus with a question, “Are You the expected one, or should we look for somebody else? Are You the Messiah? Are you the Messiah?” John the Baptist just wanted to be certain.
And Jesus said, “Here’s the answer – the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Does that sound messianic? It does if you believe the Messiah will have the character of God and you know that God is compassionate.
And ultimately, you know, when Jesus came, He says even in the eighth chapter of Matthew, that in the cross there is the provision for all our diseases. Not necessarily in time does he cure all our disease, but ultimately in eternity he does. Someday disease will be eliminated, and in the new heaven and the earth, there will be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more tears, and no more death. The work that banishes that ultimately was done on the cross.
So, Jesus was giving us a taste of glory. And I believe if He were here today, His attention would be those who were suffering. He feels their pain. He understands their infirmity; their sickness finds a place in His sympathetic heart.
So, when you look at the Beloved Servant Son, you see one who was condemned by false servants, one who was solely and totally devoted to the plan of God, and one who was compassionate toward those who were in need.
Then would you notice verse 17? As Matthew then moves into the further description, he wants to draw from Isaiah. So, it says, “”In order that what was fulfilled through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying –” In other words, everything that is true about the Messiah he says flows out of what Isaiah said.
And then verses 18 to 21 include that text from Isaiah. It’s from Isaiah 42:1 to 4. Now, I want to mention to you that Matthew does not quote it verbatim, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He gives us an interpretation of it. He takes Isaiah 42:1 to 4, and wanting to be sure we don’t miss any of its significance, the Spirit of God leads him to an inspired explanation of it, almost a paraphrase.
Now remember the Jews are expecting the Messiah to be a great political leader, a great military conqueror. They’re expecting the Messiah to be a warlike individual. They’re also expecting the Messiah would be recognized by all of the religious leaders who supposedly are the servants of God and who best know His world. And Jesus is the opposite of all of this. He’s condemned by the religious leaders. They’re plotting His death. He seems to be operating on a timetable that involves a long time of humiliation. And rather than being strong and warlike, He is gentle and compassionate.
And so, then, Matthew moves into the prophecy of Isaiah, which further enriches our understanding of the Beloved Servant Son and gives us a fourth characteristic, and that is that He is both chosen and cherished by the Father. He is chosen and cherished by the Father.
Verse 18, “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased.” There’s an obvious use of personal pronouns – “My” Servant whom “I” have chosen; “My” Beloved in whom “My” soul is well-pleased.” And this leads us to an understanding again of the intimacy between the Father and the Son.
Here is the Father, lovingly affirming that He has chosen the Son. And not only has He chosen Him, but He is pleased with Him. He is then chosen and cherished by the Father. “I have chosen” – a very interesting verb, a somewhat unusual one, used only here in the New Testament. And it seems to indicate great firmness of choice, significant firmness of choice. In fact, in secular Greek, as well as the Septuagint, this verb is sometimes used of an adoption where you have a firm and permanent kind of choice. “I have chosen Him as My Servant Son” – pais – “My Beloved Servant Son.”
Numerous times in the Scripture, Christ is called “the elect.” There is a wonderful text in Isaiah 49 that I wish we had the time to explore in detail, but sufficient to read it to you. “The Lord called Me from the womb. From the body of My mother He named Me, and He has made My mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of His hand, He has concealed me. And He has also made Me a select arrow. He has hidden Me in His quiver. He has said to Me, ‘You are My Servant.’” And while that may have a fulfillment in the nation Israel, its ultimate fulfillment is in the Messiah Himself.
The Chosen One became, then, a messianic title. It is used of Christ in Luke 23:35, 1 Peter 2 and verse 4. “Christ Mine own elect,” 1 Peter 2:6. He is chosen by God. The Father then chose the second member of the Trinity to be the Servant Son. And He says, “Not only is He chosen, but He’s cherished. My Soul is well-pleased with Him.” God said that at His baptism – didn’t He – “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God said that at His transfiguration. Both in Matthew 3 at the baptism, Matthew 17 at the transfiguration, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.” He has done everything I’ve asked Him to do; He pleases Me. The one who is the servant of Christ, the Beloved Servant, is chosen and pleasing.
So, the Beloved Servant, condemned by false servants, faithful to the plan of God, compassionate toward people, chosen and cherished by the Father.
A fifth element comes out about the character of the Beloved Servant, and that is that He was empowered by the Spirit. Empowered by the Spirit. Verse 18, “I will put My Spirit upon Him.” My this is such a wonderful truth. It is such an overwhelming truth.
And you might ask the question, “If Jesus Christ, the Beloved Servant Son, is the second member of the Trinity, why in the world does God need to put His Spirit upon Him? If He is God – a very God in human flesh – then what does endowing Him with the Holy Spirit do? If He is already God and without sin, and already God with the power of God inherent in His very nature, then why does He need the Spirit?”
And in asking that question, you have come to some understanding of the depth of His condescension. Because now you know that He has plunged Himself into the depth of condescension to the degree where He has set aside the use of His deity, and He is, in effect, saying, “I yield Myself to the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power.” That’s the depth of His descent.
We know that He yielded Himself to the Spirit’s power, because He says that. We know because the Spirit descended upon Him at the time of His baptism. And there was a unique anointing. The Lord Jesus Christ was so lowly, He stooped so far that He yielded up the independent operation of His own attributes as God and said, “I will be the Servant, and I will yield to the power of the Spirit.”
In Luke 4:18, He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, and therefore I serve.” He carries out His messianic ministry. He carries out His preaching ministry under the power of the Spirit. He carries out His miracle ministry under the power of the Spirit. That is why, when they say, “You are of Satan,” He doesn’t say here in chapter 12, “You have blasphemed Me”; He says, “You have blasphemed” – whom? – “the Holy Spirit.”
You say, “Well, now wait a minute, even John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.”
Well, yes, and Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. But what we understand by this is simply that He voluntarily set aside His own deity and yielded up from the moment of His incarnation to the Spirit of God in some unusual way – some way which we may never understand. But Acts 10:38 says this, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.” In His condescension, He gave Himself to the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power.
George Smeaton said, “The Holy Spirit formed the link between Christ’s deity and humanity. Perpetually imparting the full consciousness of His person and making Him inwardly aware of His divine sonship at all times.” What a fascinating thought. Could it be that His consciousness even of Himself as God was diminished in the depth of His condescension so that the Spirit was not only working through Him, but affirming to Him His own identity? That’s humiliation. He humbled Himself. He condescended, and He was empowered by the Spirit.
That’s a wonderful truth because it makes Him, in some way, like us, doesn’t it? For we are in the same need of the Spirit of God. Not because we have condescended from being who we are, but because in the very beginning, we are desperate and without power. But there’s a sense in which, in the way He needed the Spirit, He is a model for us who desperately need the Spirit.
There’s a sixth point in defining the one who is the Beloved Servant Son. Not only was He condemned by false servants, and devoted to the plan of God totally, and compassionate for those in need, and chosen and cherished by the Father, and empowered by the Spirit, but sixthly, He was faithful to the message. He was faithful to the message.
The end of verse 18 says, “Hey shall proclaim righteousness to the nations.” He was a preacher of righteousness. Jehovah’s Beloved Servant Son would bring the message of righteousness. That’s the truth about man, about his sin, about his guilt, about his judgment, and about the righteous standard of God, and the provision of Christ. That’s the gospel. That’s the message of salvation. And He’ll preach it to the world because He’s the Savior of the world. This He was faithful to do. He was going to reach out to the world with the message of salvation. This you could contrast also with the Pharisees who hated the thought that Gentiles might get converted. Like Jonah hated it.
Even Peter had a problem with it when he was reporting on the conversion of Cornelius, and he said, “Look, I couldn’t do anything about it; God gave them the same Holy Spirit in the same way that He did to us. How was I going to stop Him?” What a strange way to approach it? Almost as if you wanted to say to them, “If I could have stopped it, I would have, but I couldn’t.” And they all agreed that God had granted repentance to life to the Gentiles. Kind of hard for them to swallow, because they always thought of themselves as God’s favorites. But the Messiah, when He comes, He’ll preach righteousness, and He’ll preach it to the whole world. He’ll come with the right message; He won’t equivocate it, and He’ll give it to the world.
The seventh characteristic, He was characterized by humility. He was characterized by humility. Verse 19 says, “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.” This is quite interesting. The word is used here to speak of the barking of a dog, of a screeching raven, of a bawling drunk, or of the uproar of an angry crowd. And what He is saying here is, “Look, Jesus isn’t going to quarrel and screech and scream and bawl and harangue and get into a shouting match and brawl with all of you.” “Wrangle” might carry the idea.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were forever wrangling with people in public, debating and shouting and screeching. Our Lord was never engaged in that. He would never engage Himself in rabblerousing, in haranguing. He never indulged in the ravings of a fool. He spoke with wisdom, and He spoke with dignity, and He spoke with force and authority. And sometimes He spoke loudly, but it was never a shouting match; it was never an argument; it was never a debacle; it was never some kind of rabblerousing. No riotous screaming; no nasty, public wrangling; no boisterous fuming.
Zechariah said He would be meek and lowly, and He was. Ecclesiastes 9:17 says, “The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules over fools.” The Lord would never seek to secure His rightful place; He would never seek to secure His preeminence through carnal force, through harangue, through shouting matches, through public debate. To put it simply, He probably wouldn’t be on The Donahue Show or go to a political convention today. His method was the opposite of violence and the opposite of harangue. He would not shout down the opposition. He was not a turbulent agitator. He would proclaim righteousness in meekness. They were in a fury; he was quiet. They were frantic; he was composed. His meekness, His humility is evident.
There’s an eighth characteristic. This is magnificent. The Messiah, when He comes, the Beloved Servant Son, said Isaiah and affirms Matthew, encouraged the weak. He encouraged the weak. Verse 20, “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out” – that’s interesting. That’s interesting. “A battered reed He will not break.” What is that? I suppose every member of the human race has a trait of destruction in Him. You see it in childhood, don’t you? A little boy walks down the street, sees some ants. He’ll stop for two or three minutes to exercise his immense power – over these tiny, little creatures, crushing them perhaps one by one, and then walk on. A little further in his walk, he passes by a tree with a low-hanging branch, and he snatches the trees branch and rips it off and runs his little hand down the twig until the leaves are gone, and spinning the stick in his hand, cuts the tops off of flowers as he passes by the garden. One of the flowers is a rose that pops into his hands; so, he removes the petals. This is a reflection of human nature. A broken reed, he’ll break it in a minute.
The prophet was trying to tell us that there’s something in the character of Jesus Christ not just that preserve nature – because after all, He as God created it all, and when He looked on it, He said, “It’s all” – what? – “it’s good.” But it’s not so much that as it is that this is a metaphor for the fact that He will never further injure those that are already injured. He will not extinguish those who are already flickering.
Another way you might look at it, very often reeds were used to make flutes. And a shepherd would frequently make a flute out of a reed, and he would play little tunes on his flute to while away the hours, comforting his own heart. But eventually, as he blew and blew and blew into that little flute, the moisture from his own mouth would cause the rigidity of the reed to break down, and it would get soft in a few spots, and it would start to crumble and leak, and it wouldn’t make music anymore. And so, he would just break it and throw it away and get another one.
But Jesus isn’t like that. And surely these people who heard the truth about Messiah would understood that simple little illustration, because they were familiar with shepherds who made little flutes. And when it looked like the little flute was useless, they would break it and throw it away. Jesus wasn’t like that. He could take what was bruised and make it sing again.
And then there were those little wicks that are already almost at the very end. And you know what a wick does that’s almost gone? It doesn’t do anything but make smoke. It doesn’t give light; it gives the opposite; it gives black smoke. And somebody would come along and say, “That wick has such a small, tiny, little bit of burning capacity, and all its doing is making smoke; let’s put it out. But it was not like the Lord to do that. The Lord would come along and find a little wick that was smoldering and try to fan it to a full flame. This is His compassion; this is His tenderness toward the weak. This is what I believe God is calling elders of the Church to do in James 5, as they come alongside those that are broken and those that are spiritually weak, and hold the up in prayer.
The Pharisees crushed, trampled, despised, devastated, treated with contempt. Not Jesus. Human conquerors, they destroy the weak and play to the strong. Not Jesus.
One hymn writer put it this way, “Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter/Feelings lie buried that grace and restore/Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness/Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.”
The Lord can do that. The Lord does that. He treats the broken people with profound and genuine concern. Sympathy. He gives strength to the weak. He lifts up the fallen. He helps the flickering to burn brightly. He heals the sick. He saves the tax collectors. He loves the prostitutes. He comforts the mourners. He cheers the fearful. He reassures the doubters. He feeds the hungry. He forgives the sinners because He is Immanuel. He is God with us. He has the heart of God. This is the Beloved Servant Son. Condemned by false servants? Yes. Devoted to God’s plan? Yes. Compassionate toward those in need? Yes. Called and cherished by the Father and empowered by the Spirit and faithful to the message, characterized by humility, encouraging the weak.
And one more, enjoying the victory. The end of verse 20 says, “Until He leads righteousness to victory.” Until He leads righteousness to victory. He will overcome all obstacles the Scripture says. He will overcome all opposition. He will ultimately establish God’s word and God’s kingdom and win the victory. He will bring righteousness to its triumph. Sin will be banished forever. As Amos said, “The righteousness of God or the justice of God will roll down like waters.” And Isaiah said, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea.” The world literally will be drowned in righteousness someday.
“And in His name the nations will hope.” Literally, the Hebrew says, “And the islands shall wait for His law.” “Islands” refer to nations. “Waiting” refers to hope. “Law” refers to His name. And so, this is essentially what it means. Is it any wonder that the world puts its hope in this person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Beloved Servant Son?
Now, apart from just the glimpse of Christ in and of itself, what does this say to us? I look at my own life. I say, “I, too, am a son of God. I, too, have been called to be a servant, and I am His beloved by His love having been set upon me before the world began and been given to me and granted to me in Christ through salvation. I, too, am a beloved servant son. I have been called to preach. I have been called to lead. And if that is the case in my life, then here is my model. Here is my model.
If I am faithful to attack the kingdom of darkness, to penetrate the kingdom of darkness with the light f the gospel of Christ, if I am faithful to preach the truth of God, I, too, will be condemned by the false servants. If I am to be a faithful servant of God, then I also must be compassionate toward people, and I must be concerned about their hurts and pains and sufferings and sorrows. I must be devoted to God’s plan, faithful to do His will in His timing, and that makes me a person of prayer.
I must recognize that I have been called and chosen by God and am cherished by Him in the duty that He’s given me to do, that I am empowered by the Spirit that I am to be faithful to communicate the message of righteousness to the widest possible shore. I must be committed to humility, gentleness, and meekness. I must be an encourager of the weak. I must not spend my time building up the strong, but strengthening those who are weak. And in the end, if I am faithful, I, too, will know the victory and the triumph. And so, the Beloved Servant Son is not only my Savior, but my model.
Father, as we come into Your presence, in a moment of prayer at the end of this study, we want to thank You for Christ who gave His life for us to redeem us, to save us. We want to thank You for the fact that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and rose again to provide eternal life.
But, Lord, more than that, more than just the work of redemption He did on the cross, we want to thank You for the kind of person He was, because He has given us the standard of the kind of people we are to be, particularly those of us who preach and teach and lead Your Church. Make us like the Beloved Servant Son.
And then for all of the congregation, Lord, we know, too, that we are to be like Him and like our leaders who are like Him, even as Paul said, “Be ye followers of me as I am of Christ Jesus.” May our devotion to truth, our devotion to Your will; our subservient obedience to your purposes; our concern and compassion for those in need; our faithfulness to the true message; our humility; our moving in the Spirit of God – all of these things, Lord, may they be characteristics of our lives in order that all of the congregation of God may follow.
May it be true of all of us, then, that we enter into the triumph and the victory of the truth of righteousness as it prevails even today through the salvation of souls. To this end we pray, Lord, and that we might be faithful in Christ’s name, Amen.
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