Today’s Scripture – December 3, 2016

Matthew 12:15-21 (NIV)
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.  Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:  “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.”

Despite all of the attention He typically drew, Jesus’ goal was not to make a big splash, or to make a name for Himself.  He was already God in the flesh, so there was no higher rung to which He might aspire.  Instead, His goal was to initiate God’s kingdom on earth, to paint for those with eyes to see and ears to hear what that looked like, and to invite people to participate in it.

Jesus’ enemies had an impossible task in trying to trip Him up.  They could not find any weaknesses in Him that they could exploit, because He was pure and holy.  They could not find any place in Him for an appeal to pride or self-interest to lodge, because He had none; His only interest was in moving God’s kingdom forward.  They could not snare Him with flattery, because He did not need or desire the praise of men, but only the praise that comes from God.

Jesus was not into yelling down the opposition.  Instead, he spoke the truth clearly and boldly.  He never quarreled with those who wrongly accused Him of sin.  He simply tried to show them the errors in their thinking through clear spiritual illustrations.  Any time He faced a trap, He turned the inertia of their own arguments against them in a sort of verbal jujitsu.

Jesus never shamed or chewed someone out for their sins.  (The sole exception was in His chastising of the Pharisees and teachers of the law for leading God’s people astray instead of helping them to understand God better.)  If people were satisfied in their sins to the point where His own holiness brought the other person no shame, He let them go on their way.  If a person was moved to repentance by who Jesus was and what He taught, He shined a light on the way into God’s kingdom for them.

There will come a day when Jesus’ job will be overt judgment.  But at His first coming, His task was to seek and to save what was lost.  And that is the job that He left for His followers to complete until the day He returns.

Father, this is so easy to see when we open our eyes.  So often our approach and interactions with those who don’t yet know Jesus are so different from His that it is no great surprise that our results are different from His as well.  Help me to walk in Jesus’ steps in all things, even in this.  Amen.

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