14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
15When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them,16and he ordered them not to make him known. 17This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smoldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Coincidence? The passage from Isaiah quoted in Matthew is the same passage we covered this past Sunday, from Isaiah 42:1-4. This is the first of four "Servant Songs" in Isaiah where the "Servant" is identified as the Messiah.
Despite repeating myself, let me stress again some of the important parts of this passage (but I'll say things in a slightly different way for the sake of variety).
The first two words in Hebrew is הֵ֤ן עַבְדִּי֙
In Hebrew, the words are read right to left. The first word is pronounced hên and the second word is pronounced ‘aḇ·dî. The translation above is "Here is my servant." Another translation is "Behold, my servant." The "servant"/‘aḇ·dî in the context of the Ancient Near East means "trusted envoy" or "confidential representative" (the English 'servant' doesn't capture this royal connotation unfortunately).
This royal representative is Yahweh's Hope for the Gentiles and the nations. This royal representative is the One who will ultimately bring about justice for all creation. Already we see in the OT that God has Someone who will be sent to the world to save the world and to right the world.
We know this royal representative by the name of Jesus the Messiah.
What will right the world -- the world made right/the world full of justice -- is not a program or political ideology or philosophy or some belief in progress, but a Person. The deep and grave problems of injustice, evil, despair, and general fallenness have to be met by a Greater Power that can overcome these entrenched problems of a broken and bedeviled world. That Greater Power is found in the Greater Person, the Servant of Yahweh.
The immediate source of the power is hinted at in verse 18: "I will put my Spirit upon him." Therefore the Servant will be anointed with the Spirit. And we know that Jesus is called Messiah -- "Anointed One" -- because He comes drenched with the Spirit and this Spirit will be given to all those who will love and follow this Jesus.
What are the implications given the truth of these statements? If the power to overcome the deep problems of a fallen world is already given through the Spirit by Jesus, can we suppose that, here and now, these problems can be overcome? The implication seems clear. If the power to overcome has been already given, then we ought to expect, by the force of argument, that indeed we can overcome such problems.
And in support of this truth the New Testament testifies. 2 Corinthians 3:17 declares, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Wherever there is the Spirit of God at work, there is freedom from things that bind God's creatures. Hence, hope for freedom is not deferred in Jesus; freedom can be presently experienced.
Yes, problems are not all decisively wiped out, never to return. For such complete victory we await Jesus' second coming. But we can rejoice nevertheless that we can enjoy a great measure of overcoming power and experience victory over sickness, sin, and sinister spirits. Hope is found now. We need not wait. In Jesus' name, through the power of the Spirit, we can experience all sorts of freedom. Thank God.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for your Son, the Servant of Isaiah 42:1. We thank you that hope need not be deferred to the sweet by-and-by. We can experience the freedom and healing -- the core of salvation -- in the here and now. We thank that the coming of the Anointed One meant the beginning of Release from the grip of the enemy and sin and hopelessness, the beginning of the Year of Jubilee. May 2015 be the Year of Jubilee, a year of restoration, a year of healing of hearts, bodies, and relationships, a year of living out of the heart that Jesus gave us. We thank you for a new year to experience the ever-renewing truths and power of God through the ministry of Jesus and the power of the Spirit. Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen.