Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Undercover Jesus

Matthew 12:15-21, “Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. 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 has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope” (NIV).

I’m always baffled by the passages of Scripture in which Jesus instructs people not to tell others about him.  It runs counter-cultural to our often prevalent assumption that in order for people to come to salvation, we must talk… and talk… and talk…  So why does Jesus give this odd direction?

The prophecy, itself, strikes me as cryptic when we arrive at these words, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…” (v.20).  At first glance, this appears redundant.  We have just read about healing (on multiple accounts), so it is tempting to skim over this part, chalking it up to a prophecy already fulfilled and checking it off the list.    

However, I am left with a haunting question.  What is it about the withdrawal and secrecy that fulfills the prophecy of healing others?

Jesus is the kind of risk-taker who weighs the options carefully and chooses others first, knowing that there are some circumstances that require him to be covert in order to bring the most redemption.  Even though it really is about Jesus, it appears that he sometimes lives as if it is not in order to love people in ways the religious elite will not allow. 

These bruised reeds… these smoldering wicks… They are the ones who seem damaged beyond repair.  They are the ones who have already been written off by the vast majority of humanity.  These are no insignificant injuries.  They require space for recovery.  Sometimes love is quiet. 

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