Faced with the hostile reaction of His enemies, Jesus does not stand and debate the rightness of His actions but withdraws and continues to demonstrate His credentials as Messiah to those who followed Him. Yet He warns those he heals not to tell anyone who He was.

We look at the reasons for Jesus behaving in this way and consider what caused His enemies to react as they did.

Matthew draws our attention to a prophecy of Isaiah concerning the ministry of the Messiah to show that what Jesus did was exactly in keeping with what had been prophesied some 700 years before. Jesus did not quarrel or debate but He did declare God’s kingdom and even ministered to the Gentiles. Although coming as a King, He didn’t come to destroy the weak and strengthen the already-strong as an earthly monarch would. Rather, as One who is also the Good Shepherd, He came to encourage the weak and revitalize the struggling ones.

We see that the bruised reed and the smoldering wick are pictures of those who know their sin but are struggling with it and feel their weakness in defeat. They are encouraged here to come to Christ for forgiveness and strength - playing their part by repentance and trusting in Him alone for the strength they need.

Unbelievers are broken reeds and cold, dead wicks with no spark of life. But Christ can mend the broken reed and set alight the dead heart, so these, too, are called to repent, believe on Christ and not to harden themselves against Him.

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Shaun Bryant

Shaun has been Pastor at Grace Church in Modesto since late 1993. His journey to the fellowship took him through churches of various persuasions, during which time he became convinced of a call to the ministry and also of a Reformed view of the Scriptures. Shaun completed his studies for the ministry at Westminster Seminary in California. He is married with 3 children.

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