Who you want to be

Matthew 12:15-21

We’re used to hearing preachers admonish us to spread the good news. Tell the world about Jesus!

So, it feels strange to hear Jesus order people to not talk about what he had done for them. There are several gospel references to this. One is in Matthew 12. A group of Pharisees decided to conspire against Jesus. When he found out, he left the place where they were. But he did not stop doing what got him in trouble with them.

He healed all people that came to him. And, according to Matthew, “he ordered them not to make him known” (12:16). That not only sounds strange, it feels impossible. If I left home, let’s say, demon-possessed and came back in my right mind, people would notice. They’d wonder what happened.

Where did I go?

Who did I see?

How could Jesus expect anyone to keep such a thing from spreading?

Was is that Jesus worried about the religious leaders after him? I’m not so sure. Jesus seemed to know the cross was coming. There would be no easy way of fulfilling his mission. His clash with the religious authorities would end in violence.

Considering that assurance, one idea is that Jesus wanted to wait for the right time. If Jesus wanted to wait for the Passover to face the cross, he couldn’t let things get out of control now.

That makes sense, of course.

But Matthew tells us plainly why Jesus gave his strange order. It was to fulfill an image given by Isaiah. The prophet saw a humble and compassionate figure leading God’s people. And that is the model Jesus embraced. He didn’t want the notoriety, publicity or acclaim that came with being a healer. He wanted to offer rest for weary souls (Matthew 11:29).

Jesus read the Bible and it inspired the kind of shepherd he would be. Often, Christians speak of Bible study as information acquisition. We want to learn more about the Bible. That is, of course, a noble goal. But a better way for us to read the Bible is for transformation and inspiration. That still includes learning, but it also goes deeper.

Isaiah’s picture of God’s servant inspired Jesus to be all that we know him to be. So, if reading the Bible is less about information, an important question arises. As we learn more of the Bible, what kind of people are we choosing to become as a result?

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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