Wednesday, January 11, 2017
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” Matthew 12:18-21(NLT)
Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Matthew the tax collector calls the name of Jesus the hope of all the world. It’s something out of character for a tax collector to be quoting Scripture, let alone naming an executed political prisoner the hope of anything.
By the time Matthew wrote his Gospel account, he had to work hard to recall the pitiful scenes of Jesus’ passion. There was that night when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane and everyone but Jesus fled for their lives; He let them take him! He was beaten unrecognizable in public, spat-upon, and mocked and convicted in a sham trial. All through this ordeal Matthew’s hero doesn’t even speak-up for his innocence. He takes it all and is silent. Finally they nailed him to a cross raised on the town garbage dump, and he bleeds, suffers, cries out to forgive the ones who did this to him, and…dies. What kind of hope for all the world is that?
Of course the answer is it’s the God-kind of hope we needed most of all. And it is so different from what we are accustomed to calling “power” or “justice”. We can easily miss why the name of Jesus is our hope. Our culture looks to leaders who are powerful people with a loud voice, always confident, and always in control – the threat of consequences at their fingertips. By comparison, silence is seen as weakness.
But Jesus was anything but weak. Rather he was “meek” – another misunderstood word, implying impotence or fearful submission. Rather the word “meek” in Scripture means the kind of power you see in a magnificent stallion, only under control. It is the right use of power to do what must be done. Horses can be out-of-control, and when that happens, the strength of their body can be powerfully-destructive. But a horse under the control of the bridle and reins is powerfully-useful.
The Silent Jesus was the later, powerful beyond measure, able to still the storm’s raging with a simple word, heal the sick, raise the dead, and even conquer death after three days in the tomb. And yet, that power was silent standing before the world as humankind cried CRUCIFY.
Isaiah looked down the corridors of time and called this silent Messiah the hope of all the world. To Matthew and the other disciples who fled the scene to save their skins, it may have looked like all hope had been nailed to that cross, shattered by the blows of fate. But God isn’t interested in what it looks like to us; God is more interested in what our souls look like to Him.
There were several times in the last thirty-seven years when it seemed like, for us, all hope for staying in ministry had been snatched away. But God wasn’t interested in how it looked to me or anyone else. He was busy (silently) working behind the curtain to bring all things together for good[ii].
And if there’s any hope at all in the universe, it will not be in the noisy, political plans and schemes of the ones who appear powerful; rather it will swing on the hinge of the name and power of the One who is our sacrifice: Jesus Christ, silent hope of all the world.
In all you do, or attempt to do today, your power will not be found in physical, emotional or intellectual strength; your power will be found in the still, small moments as you listen for God’s voice.