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Isaiah Points Us to Jesus. Matthew 12:15-21


Isaiah Points to Jesus

Matthew 12:15-21.

The Pharisees and the Scribes have organised a conference to find a way to get rid of this troublesome teacher, who is destroying their false teaching on the law, and lifting the heavy burden of ‘rules-based’ religion off the people.  They’ve brought in the politicians too, and a mixture of religion and politics is a deadly combination indeed.  What will Jesus do in response?  

1. Jesus Leaves the City. v15  But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known  Jesus’ reaction to the news of their plans was to withdraw from Capernaum to a more discrete place. Some commentators note that this is:-

  • An act of ASTUTENESS.  That to withdraw at this point is common sense, wisdom! It’s not out of fear for the machinations of the religious and political coalition that is now ranged against him, but because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself.  He has not yet openly revealed his Messiahship, Matthew records this in v16,  
  • An act of ABANDONMENT.  Those religious people have hardened their hearts against the Saviour, turned their back on his mercy and grace, and openly rejected him.  The Hebrew author quotes from Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3:7   In withdrawing his presence from them, is this an act of righteous judgement upon the Pharisees for their hard hearted unbelief?  
  • An act of ABASEMENT. Humility and self denial, – the very opposite of  the human condition, where we long for celebrity and greatness and recognition by others. Even though Jesus had walked away from Capernaum great crowds had followed him, and Matthew simply records that ‘He healed them all.’  His good works continued behind the scenes.  It was during this time that Jesus warned them not to gossip about Isaiah chapter 53:2-3 

This reference to the humility of Christ leads Matthew to quote Isaiah, and to show how Jesus is the fulfilment of ‘The Servant Songs’ of Isaiah.   

2. Isaiah’s Description of the Messiah. 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
The first description of Christ is of an OBEDIENT SERVANT.  Now, what’s the background to this Isaiah quotation?

  1. The Suffering Servant in Isaiah.  18 Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, The OT book of Isaiah has four passages that we call the ‘Servant Songs.’  They are found in Isaiah 42:1–9; Isaiah 49:1–13; Isaiah 50:4–11; and Isaiah 52:13—53:1.   Isaiah initially applied them to Israel, but the nation of Israel fails, and Messiah, God’s servant, Jesus perfectly fulfils them – in Him, Israel is summed up in One Man, He is the chosen servant of the Lord.    Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.  
  2. The beloved of God. My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased He is God’s Son, the beloved of the Father, and with Him God is well pleased.  Compare this passage with the account of the baptism of Christ, Matthew 3:16-17    It’s a direct reference -made by God Himself – to Isaiah 42.  
  3. The Anointed One. I will put My Spirit upon Him,   Now we need to be careful here, that we don’t fall into the trap of an ancient Christological heresy called Adoptionism, where the Holy Spirit supposedly fell upon Christ at Baptism, and then he became God’s Son.  That’s NOT what Isaiah means here.  God the Holy Spirit was with God the Son all the way through his earthly journey.  He was ‘conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.’  This reference to God ‘putting his spirit upon Jesus’ is about this particular mission  – the work of the Holy Spirit, through Christ’s atoning work, in bringing all the nations into the Kingdom of God.     Jesus – and he alone, is the Anointed One.   

So, since Jesus is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecies, let’s look at what this Suffering Servant will achieve, and see the work of Christ.  


3. Isaiah’s Description of Messiah’s Work.
There is a wonderful description of Christ in these words, illustrating both his humility and his victory!  

  1. Jesus shows us what justice is. And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. Jesus shows us true justice, for he makes us just – justifies us before God, by giving us his righteousness, making us right before God when we never could have done this ourselves.  So the first thing Matthew teaches us about God’s suffering servant is that he is especially anointed for the task of bringing every nation into the kingdom of God, extending the righteousness of God throughout the whole world, even to us.
  2. Jesus is the Compassionate Lamb of God. 19 He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench,    See…
    1. His quiet demeanour.  The Messiah doesn’t raise his voice, or become a demagogue or rail against others. You’ll not hear him indulging in the modern style of protest, shouting and roaring on the streets.  He’s the opposite of that, – he goes about his work humbly and quietly.  And he carries out his mission in…
    2. His compassion for sinners.  Many people had come to that wilderness place, and every one of them experienced his love and mercy and his healing touch.  Isaiah describes such people as being like bruised reeds, and smoking flaxes.  He tells us that in our brokenness and our our smouldering despair, he will never damage us further – Luke 4:17-19  
  3. Jesus is the Trustworthy Victor!  Till He sends forth justice to victory; 21 And in His name Gentiles will trust. And finally, Matthew – and Isaiah before him, point to Christ as the VICTORIOUS SAVIOUR.  His justice leads to victory!   All nations will find hope in Him, as in Christ sinners are brought into God’s covenant.  Ephesians 2:11  

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench;

Jesus is meek and humble and compassionate, yet he is the victorious conqueror on whom we can totally depend.  The same Jesus who is humble and quiet and compassionate is the one who is forever victorious   

Application and Use.

There is much in this fulfilment of prophecy in which we can find comfort.  Gentiles, people broken by the misery of this sin cursed world, people who are weak in faith, sinners in need of salvation… That’s why Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus encourages us and comforts us.  

© BobMcEvoy January 2019


Heidelberg Catechism:

Q37. What do you confess when you say that he suffered?    

A. During all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.  Thus, by his suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, he has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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