Here is the servant God has chosen! This is the one he loves and delights in. It is upon THIS man that God will put his Spirit and empower him to bring justice where there is injustice. There is no doubt that this message was shocking to those who had heard similar things from Jesus. Jesus simply didn’t represent the Jewish hope for liberation the way the Jews hoped that liberation might occur.
But, really, are we any better? We hope for liberation from injustice and expect God to punish the unjust the way WE would punish the unjust. We see corrupt systems of government and our hope for their people’s liberation is in the form of a military campaign led by a dominant nation (who we later turn on for ‘meddling’…). Saddam Hussein was a man of injustice, our response: bomb the country. The story repeats itself throughout our history, and now again in the Middle East.
I recently had a discussion with a Christian friend about what should happen to people who commit a certain kind of horrendous crime. His response was that they should be shot/castrated/tortured etc. As much as I might sympathise with this response it doesn’t reflect the Jesus that Matthew claims fulfils this passage in Isaiah 42. In advocating our own brand of justice we indulge in mob mentality and miss the Son of God who does not cheer along but remonstrates the crowd.
We can’t help but confuse our human hopes for justice with what we expect God to do. May our prayer this Lent and Easter be to come face to face with the God who chose to throw himself upon the forces of evil and oppression and be crucified rather than pick up the sword and fight back. May our hope be in God’s kingdom and His justice rather than our worldly empires and our worldly ‘peace’.