NT Connect: Matthew 12:9-21
Weekly Reading: Isaiah 40-44
In Matthew 12, Jesus’ healing of the man with a withered hand leads to conflict with the religious leaders. Jesus withdraws from the synagogue, and we read, “Many followed him, and he healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). Matthew then asserts that this healing ministry was to fulfill what we have read this week in Isaiah 40.
Isaiah 40 highlights that Jesus came to bring justice to the earth. He came to right wrongs. His mission was not limited to one nation, but he came to bring justice to “the coastlands” as Isaiah says. Matthew interprets this phrase as to the “Gentiles.” In using these expressions, both Isaiah and Matthew are making the point that the Servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ, will bring to justice to the ends of the earth. His is a global mission.
Such justice is good news for the oppressed but terrifying news for the oppressor. According to Scripture, we should see ourselves in both groups. At once, we are both sinned against and sin against others. We are hurt, and we do the hurting. If Jesus comes to make all wrongs right, he is going to have to do something with all our wrongdoing.
Jesus’ ministry, however, is not just one of justice. His is also a mission of compassion: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench” (Matthew 12:20). Jesus does not see our sin and weakness as an opportunity to crush us, but instead, he sees our need for healing. He looks on us in our brokenness and offers forgiveness that heals. He compassionately cares for us.
How can Christ bring justice and compassion? How can he both punish wrongdoing and show mercy? He himself was bruised so that we would not be broken. His life was quenched so that we would not be put out. On the cross, Christ took on himself the punishment for sin, so that through Christ, God could have compassion on us.
Do you feel bruised and about to be broken? Do you feel like a candle whose flame is about to flicker out? Look to Christ, for he compassionately cares for you. Cast your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7). He is a most merciful and compassionate savior who longs to give his people rest. “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Dr. John Morrison