“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 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 Gentiles will hope.” Matt. 12:18-21
This quote of Old Testament scripture concerning the Lord Jesus Christ comes from the book of Isaiah, chapter forty-two, verses one through four.
Here’s how the text reads in the NAS: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed, until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” The section of the book of Isaiah from whence Matthew quoted, dealt with the coming promised comfort and consolation of Judah and Israel after the harsh judgment of conquest and captivity for their idolatrous rebellion. This period prophesied by Isaiah would be one the people of Jesus day, like previous post-exilic generations, would be expectantly looking toward. This Servant of God would come in humbleness, not boisterous or contentious (He will not cry out or raise His voice). His compassionate deeds and labor in His mission for the LORD were not for personal glory and honor (nor make His voice heard in the street), but that the Father would be glorified (Check out the previous context of verses 15-17 in Matthew chapter 12 for confirmation of this). This is the one in which the LORD favors (in whom My soul delights) and protects (whom I uphold), insuring He accomplishes His mission. The Holy Spirit then moves the prophet to use a couple of illustrations to demonstrate the compassionate concern of this Servant. Reeds grew in marshy areas, tended to be fragile and weak, easily bruised or broken by the winds. Once damaged, another strong wind could easily snap off the damaged reed. Wicks were constructed of flax fibers (linen essentially) and would begin to smoke as they were about ready to be extinguished due to lack of oil. These analogies communicate the state of the downcast and the purpose given the Servant. He had not come to crush the weak or fragile, but to bind up the broken-hearted (Isa. 61:1), rekindle and fan back to full flame the smoldering wick. This Servant (Jesus) would not be deterred by personal trials or obstacles in His mission to establish and bring forth the true justice of God. This justice is God’s intended order of things (aka, judgment) under the leadership of the Messiah which leads to victory, and is to be established throughout the earth. So great is this message or mercy and compassion, the nations will eagerly await its coming and their participation. Contrast this message and Messenger with that of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Their message was to lay more burdens on the people which they could not bear, remind them of their shortcomings, and pronounce a railing judgment against them. It’s easy to see why the multitudes rejoiced at Jesus’ teaching. Now brethren, the character of Christ, His approach to a burdened and weary people, His humility and genuine concern for building them up, faithfully brought forth and established God’s justice in the earth. God’s justice will become real victory when all the nations hear of this message of hope. We know Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Our job, as once battered reeds and nearly extinguished wicks without hope, is to take God’s order of things through the Messiah nto all the nations, prompted by the word of God, that this is what they expectantly wait for and need! Remember, we are God’s chosen (1 Pet. 2:9). We have a mission and should not be deterred by life’s trials or obstacles. We are the Lord’s beloved (Col. 3:12) equipped to do that which is well pleasing (Heb. 13:21) by His spirit which indwells us (Rom. 8:9-11). We, as the Lord’s bondservants, “must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25) Just like Jesus. Amen?