March 31

Text: Matthew 12:16, 17

(He) warned them not to make Him known, in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, might be fulfilled . . . (NASB)

The curious statement to “not make him known” has been discussed by many.  It was not as if what Jesus said and did occurred in secret.  Nor is it like his unusual statements and deeds escaped notice.  He was openly controversial and openly criticized.  Then why did he make this statement?

Consider one possibility.  Israelites chafed under Roman occupation.  Resentment of the Roman presence in their land ran deep—the Roman occupation force with its restrictions was a continual irritation.  That created a climate that made Jewish rebellion quite acceptable among the Jewish people.

Jesus was not the first to declare a special relationship with God that would produce life and freedom (see Acts 5:33-37). 

Those previous movements were disastrous!  Their focus was totally different—they were a rebellion based on physical conflict and bloodshed hopefully inflicted on the Romans.

 Jesus’ movement would involve (eventually) more than the Jewish people, would not advance through physical conflict, and the only bloodshed occurring would be the blood of his followers.

To compare Jesus’ emphasis to those physically rebellious movements invited Jewish misunderstanding, Roman opposition, and a changed focus of his message.  Any Jewish claim that said Jesus (1) was from God and (2) had power and influence contained a real opportunity for creating unnecessary problems and distorting his objective.  Sometimes the endorsement of the “wrong” people produces disaster!  Sometimes a failure to grasp the real objective destroys your message!

The Isaiah passage stressed that God’s servant would be physically non-threatening.  This non-threatening person would not cry out, would not break a battered reed, would not extinguish a smoldering wick, but would bring hope to non-Jewish people.  Those are not threatening images!

Suggestion for reflection: Do you represent or misrepresent Jesus?  (Read 1 Peter 3:13-16.)

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