Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jesus Withdrew

The Pharisees were furious with this challenge to their authority, and their position among the people. They had been demoted and undercut. They made a settled determination to put Jesus to death, which fell squarely withing the rabbinical law that whoever transgressed the Sabbath had to be stoned to death. This was their plan for Jesus, a holy killing.

The Lord’s response to their hatred was to withdraw.

He didn’t openly fight His enemies, but fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah,
"He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." (Isaiah 42:2-3)
Who do you think the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks were?

They were the scribes and Pharisees, who had grown used to the authority God had originally given them to protect and teach His law. Their pride and sense of self-importance got in the way of seeing their own sin, and repenting.

Jesus was quiet, not fiery, even though that’s what they deserved. Jesus showed mercy in being gentle and kind.

The Lord’s withdrawal at this point was in anticipation of the time, from Matthew 14-20, where Jesus avoided direct conflict with His enemies. During that time Jesus taught His disciples and prepared them for His crucifixion.

* When is withdrawing the better choice, in your own circumstances?

* In what conflict might the other person really be a dimly burning wick, even though they've come at you really aggressively?

The scribes and Pharisees were no longer in touch with God, no longer in communion with Him, despite being a very religious group of people. Jesus knew that confrontation was what they wanted. So He withdrew to protect the time He had left to teach and train those who loved Him, were in touch with God and wanted to learn.

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