Today's Bible Reading: Matthew 12
Selected Biblical Text
13 Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18 "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. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope." (Matthew 12:13-21 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Today's chapter contains five paragraphs: (1) Jesus demonstrates that he is Lord of the Sabbath by healing the man with a withered hand; (2) Jesus is identified as God's chosen servant who fulfills Isaiah's prophecy by the power of God's Spirit; (3) Jesus answers the charge of the Pharisees that he is empowered by Beelzebub; (4) Jesus addresses the Pharisees' desire for a sign; and (5) then he speaks about his mother and brothers. In Matthew's Gospel, the identity of Jesus is never far from view; it is always in the near background. That Jesus fulfills Isaiah's prophecy concerning God's chosen servant -- loved, a source of delight to God, Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered to proclaim justice and hope -- provides an obvious contrast to the accusations and challenges of the Jewish leaders.
Jesus is a teacher of a different sort, especially when compared to the average Jewish rabbi or teacher of his day. Jesus not only taught; he healed. He taught with authority. He taught with compassion. He taught to make life easier, not harder. He focused on the heart, not external actions; he presented a different model for life. He exalted spiritual relationships over physical, and internal heart change over external adherence to the law. One's life must be more than a vacuum where nothing bad exists -- life is to be filled with goodness and mercy, wisdom and value. One cannot be content to evacuate all the evil. One must take a stand for goodness and truth. Justice and victory and hope spring forth in no other way.
Dear Father in Heaven, fill us this day with your power, presence, mercy and love. Give us a measure of your wisdom. Focus our hearts on doing your will so that we may indeed be brothers and sisters of Jesus, in his name, Amen.