16 October 2013

Matthew 12:1-21

"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. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope". (vv. 18-21)


Matthew's longest Old Testament quotation is introduced here to emphasise the contrast between the violent opposition of the Pharisees (in the preceding verses) and the gentleness of the Lord's Servant portrayed in Isaiah 42.

Here we read of Jesus' role as a humble servant - one who will not crush the helpless. The character of this servant is one of meekness and gentleness. In verse 18 it reinforces Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism where we hear the voice of God: "… my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased".

The weak and the vulnerable (the smouldering wick is one in danger of going out altogether) have a special place in being led to victory and finding justice. In verse 21 the, "Gentiles will hope" indicates that the mission of the servant is universal in character. All are welcome.

To Ponder

  • The character of Jesus as servant is one of seeking justice, not self proclamation. In what ways do we as his servants seek justice for others?
  • On what occasions have you behaved like the Pharisees? What do you think Jesus's response would have been?
  • How far do you serve with humility and gentleness?

Bible notes author

Deacon Eunice Attwood

Eunice is a Methodist deacon. She is a tutor in Pastoral Theology at the Queen's Foundation in Birmingham, and a member of the Centre for Ministerial Formation since 2012.