Our Hope-Giving Redeemer (Matthew 12:15-21) by Bro. John Lao

It has been said you should never meet your heroes. Often times that we when we admire someone because of their work or because of their craft, there is a desire for us to hope, hope that one day that we could meet them and talk to them and to ask them certain questions of on what their inspiration is, what made them the person that who they are right now. And this saying cautions people from seeking personal acquaintance because their heroes might disappoint them. Because what is often portrayed in the media about the person is far different than their true character. But in our passage today, the Apostle Matthew draws his reader to Christ, the servant. Far from telling us to never meet the hero of the story, he encourages us to look to Him because He is our hope-giving Redeemer. So please turn with me to our passage this morning.

That’s Matthew 12: 15 to 21. So this account is right after His encounter with the Pharisees pertaining to the Sabbath, okay. Matthew 12: 15- 21. I’ll be reading from the ESV so pay attention now to the reading of the word of God. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, 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 quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Let us come to God in prayer. Our holy and gracious heavenly Father who restores us, who gives us, who gives us life in His Son, who gives grace immeasurable. It is that grace that allowed us to have this privilege to even stand before for You today as Your people being called from this world to be Your people for Your own possession. And oh God, we pray that Christ may be magnified before us in the proclamation of Your word. May our hope be solely in Him and may we, may this motivate us to daily approach You knowing that You are our compassionate Saviour for it is in His name that we pray, amen.

From the example we saw in Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees about the Sabbath, we see now a great contrast between the supposed servants of the people of God and the Servant Himself. The overbearing leaders and the tenderhearted Redeemer. The leaders were demanding in their requirements but the Saviour invites the people to rest and to come to Him for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The Pharisees were blind guides who prided in external obedience of the law but neglected necessities and deeds of mercies which is supposedly the whole point of the law. But on the other hand, Christ is the true Shepherd of the sheep who desired to show compassion and mercy, thereby, exemplifying the very intention of the law of God. We’ve seen that in the opposition against the ministry of Jesus Christ, it is progressing. They started with being indifferent about Him, and then they began to question Him, to doubt Him, and now at this point, they wanted to kill Him. They wanted to take His life because they hearts were so hard, they were mad at Him to the point that they would exhaust every possible means just to put them out. They went to a point that they would go even to their enemies to unite with them to conspire against the Messiah and ask the question and determine how they would kill Jesus Christ. For them, He is a law-breaker, a blasphemer, causing deception against the people and therefore He must be put away. And knowing what they are conspiring, we were told that Jesus withdrew from there. And as He left, verse 15 tells us many followed Him. Maraming sumunod sa Kaniya. Mark tells us that the crowds that followed Him were a multitude, it was a great crowd both Jews and Gentiles. Sinabi sa atin ni Mark in chapter 3:7 that these are people from the city of Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem Idumea which is not a Jewish City and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. So many that they had to take a vote for Jesus or else sa dami ng crowd, pwede Siyang madurog sa sobrang dami ng lumalapit sa Kaniya. But being compassionate to those who were coming to Him, our passage tells us that He healed them all. But at the same time, He also ordered them, He greatly charged them and told them that they should not make Him known. And you would wonder and would ask yourself if He has come to save sinners and if He is demonstrating miracles in order for Him to show and validate the fact that He is the Messiah, why would Jesus even order those people and the demon-possessed men to conceal of His identity? It is not because He is scared, He is concerned of His own life, but Christ Himself as the Messiah, as the Servant, knows that He has a timetable. Meron Siyang timetable the time wasn’t right for Him to die. That would come later because the Servant is also the suffering Servant. His ministry ought not to be downplayed by being simply known as a miracle worker. Eto si Jesus Christ, yung tagapag-pagaling ng sakit. He doesn’t want that impression to simply stick to the people more than, because more than just that, He is the one to whom the Gentiles all of the nations of the Earth, the people the non-jewish, Jews and Gentiles alike would hope. And in this section, we see a rich picture of the identity and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows us the role that He took the character of His ministry towards His church. He did not come to advance His own cause by self- promotion, humbly ministering to bruised reed and smouldering wicks through our Redeemer and Lord who’s justice, righteousness, would be established in His person and in His work. So our message this morning and I want us to see and appreciate greatly the fact that Jesus Christ the servant, the servant, gives hope to sinful man. Jesus, the servant gives hope to sinful man now how can we say so? Paano ba natin malalaman na He is the one to whom we can hope? That’s going to be our first point chosen servant. He Is The Chosen Servant. What kind of servant is He? Is he like the Pharisees? Is He demanding as well? How does He deal with sinful man or probably, alam na natin na siya ay hindi overbearing. But how different is He from the other supposed servants that’s going to be our second Point Compassionate Saviour.

So let’s go now to our first point, Chosen Servant. Again, if you’re wondering why Jesus withdrew and admonished those whom He have healed not to make Him known, the answer is that He is operating under a divine plan. He does what He does, He responded the way He did because as verse 17 tells us in our passage, this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah. In other words, He is fulfilling prophecy, but other than that in verse 18, He is God’s Servant. He had a role to play, He had a mission to fulfill, He has an assignment, He has a task. And a servant, in the usage of the Greek word is not the usual doulos or parang slave na tinutukoy natin. A servant is someone who is called and commissioned to execute the purposes of the king. Now if the King has an order, the servant’s role is to take that order and execute. Yun yung role niya.

And what was His mission? Very clear in our passage — to proclaim justice to the Gentiles. In other words, this is to bring about the gospel, the good news that there is hope for all sinners, to both Jews and Gentiles. But this is also a stern warning against those who would persist in unbelief. That they would not believe in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In our scripture reading earlier, the continuation of Isaiah 42. So Matthew quotes verses 1-4 for us to appreciate on what Christ, the Servant is about to accomplish; we will be going back to what God said through the prophet Isaiah in verses 5 to 9. But first, we could see that the Messiah, the Servant will secure redemption. It was said in the passage that the Father will give Him as a covenant for the people. He is grace incarnate. He would be Grace personified. And that those who would come to Him, would receive grace and mercy from Him. He will be a light to the nations, He’ll grant freedom from their infirmities, from their bondage from sin, and second, He would magnify the glory of God. The God who is jealous of His glory, who would not share His glory to another, He would magnify. He would proclaim and He would make it known to the people in His person. And as a servant, Christ would embody righteousness. He would make known justice in his perfect life and sin bearing death on the cross by living justly in obedience to God’s standard for righteousness and receiving the just penalty of the sins of His people. And finally, righteousness would be demonstrated greatly and finally and victoriously in His resurrection after the third day. Because it it is impossible for a sinless Son of God who has accomplished all righteousness to remain in the grave. And therefore, my brothers and sisters and friends, Christ the servant redeems man from the power of sin and death. Israel was supposedly, supposed to be a light for the nations. They were redeemed by the mighty hand of God in order to magnify the same thing— the glory of God and to become a people for His own possession. But their history, and we know as we read the Old Testament, they failed, they were idolatrous, they broke the Covenant of God but Christ, the true Israel, the faithful Servant. He became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross told us in Philippians chapter 2 verse 8.

And we should also note that only Jesus Christ can accomplish the task that was given to Him. The Father has chosen Him. He empowers Him and furnishes Him by His Spirit. He’s not just any kind of servant but He is His beloved. God the Son, whom He is in close fellowship with from all eternity, delighting with each other’s presence and the Father affirmed His delight over Son both in His baptism and transfiguration. Why? Because He would fulfill all righteousness. And on behalf of His people, He would willingly submit Himself to die on the cross under the will of the Father to be crushed for our sins, to suffer as a substitute for sinners. And as Galatians 4:4 would tell us, Christ the Son of God was born under the law in order that verse five, tells us to redeem those who are under the law. And He has accomplished this to his perfect life, his sinlessness and being the sinless Son of God, the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world through His passive obedience na tinatawag natin in theology, His submission to the will of God to be crushed because of His wrath. He willingly took the place of sinners to receive the penalty due our sin. And through Christ’s obedience, He has fulfilled and accomplished redemption in order that we, who have come into grips about the holiness of God, our sinfulness who are weighed down by the demands of the man-made laws that do not attain salvation nor give value to our lives as believers and as people, can find rest and hope from our faithful Servant, Jesus Christ. When we learn that we have a serious health condition, we immediately seek for cure. Naghahanap tayo ng gamot, we either change our lifestyle and even take medication in order to manage the sickness that we are in. Now for all men sickness that pervades the human race’s sin, but the unchanging and only cure that would deliver us completely from it is Christ.

Christ alone can deliver us from all our sins from our enemies, sin, Satan and death. And recognising in the great state that the Son of God had from all eternity, being eternally begotten with the Father, delighting in His close and intimate bond with Him, it would take an inestimable amount of love and humility coming from the Son of God. He stoop down and save unworthy sinners like you and I. And so church, marvel on that great truth of Christ’s humility for the saving work that He has done for our sake. In assuming flesh that He might bring about justice against sin and death, to be subject as well. In assuming flesh, He was subject to all our weakness and. temptations. And He has come not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 and because of His faithful service to our Father and for us, we have hope. We have a sure and steadfast hope and therefore, never miss this out to put your absolute trust in Christ who alone can give hope to us.

And for my brethren, rejoice and give thanks to the Father because it has been made possible for us to have hope given through His Son. So when was the last time you even gave thanks to Your salvation, for Your salvation? For the fact that you have been delivered from all of your sins past, present and future? How do you show your gratitude to God for what He has done for us in Christ?

Problems we at times fail to rest in that truth. We may know the gospel exactly in our head, we know how to articulate the truths that are composed within the gospel message, we know it for well in our heads, but we do not take that truth and let it shape our hearts as well which should influence the way we relate to God and engage with others. Brethren, trusting, yung pagtitiwala natin kay Kristo, yung pananampalataya natin sa Kaniya at yung resting natin is practical. This is not just a mental ascent to the truth of the Gospel, but it involves repentance, a killing of sin daily, moment by moment and a lively seeking after holiness. Scripture also calls us to look to the servanthood of Jesus Christ as an example just as Christ sought the welfare and the good of sinners, we are also called to consider others more important than ourselves and to have this mind that is in us, that is in Christ Jesus. His patience under the weighty trials that He has encountered in the days of His flesh, His resolved in being fully disposed to do the will of God and nothing else. In which the scripture calling us to look to this to His word in order to equip us for every good work and that we might become equitable and just in all our dealings. And so how is this seen in our lives dear brethren, in the way we relate to our brothers and sisters, the way we serve them, our family, biological family and our church, the way we engage in our vocation. Can they actually see a difference versus the the people who are in the world? Can they actually see the light of Christ in us? So this is the kind of transformation that the gospel does sa ating mga buhay, kapatid, to rest in the hope that we have in Christ for He is our chosen Servant who has brought forth justice, righteousness and salvation through His perfect person and work.Now what kind of a Saviour He is? We know that He is a chosen Servant, we learned about His mission we know what He has come to accomplish, but how is He as our Lord and Saviour?

Let’s go to our second point: Compassionate Saviour. Because of the miracles that He has done, that He does rather, His fame continues to spread throughout the surrounding regions. And as He withdrew to escape the plot of the Pharisees, multitudes, great crowds followed Him from various towns and cities including those who are sick. And you know during that time, healthcare is not something that is quite accessible to the people. Hindi pa siya advance during the time of Jesus. So these people who would flock to Him, who were suffering with various ailments, were desperate even just to touch Jesus. And we are told in verse 15 that He healed them all. Here, we are shown a great example. And even in the previous passages of the compassion of our Lord, we see the tenderheartedness of Christ in action. And as verse 20 says in Isaiah’s prophecy, that a bruised reed, He will not break, and a smouldering wick, He will not quench. And if you have seen a reed, so kapag nags-stay po tayo or you know a place where there are a lot of reeds na malapit sa sea, a reed, it is usually doesn’t have any value. It is not something that you would want to be present sa inyong bahay kung ikaw ay isang plantito or plantita, it’s not normally something that you would want to be in your house especially when it’s bruised. Inaantay na lang natin yung time that it would become altogether withered. And a smouldering wick is good for nothing. Have you seen a candle after blowing that there’s a a little bit of fire and it doesn’t illumine the place where you are at. It is not able to give light nor to give warmth. But unlike the overburdening yoke of the Pharisees that even bruises or even smoulders, the bruise reeded and a smouldering wick, the servant in contrast on the contrary, Jesus Christ is gentle… is gentle upon His people. He’s perfectly acquainted with all our sins and yet He deals gently with His people. And this is what we have to know that Christ deals gently with our weakness and our frailty.

You’ve heard Paul Washer often cite this pertaining to the love of God that there was not a fraction of a second in our life that we were able to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and strength. Lagi niyang sinasabi iyon in most of his sermons, and that is true! And if we will be honest, no one will be able to say that we have, we cannot love God perfectly in all our being, but in comparison to Jesus Christ throughout His life, there was not a fraction of a second that He did not love God with all His heart, with all His mind, with all His soul and with all His strength. Our faith my dear brethren and friends is fluctuating. It varies; it may be stable at times and we could even rejoice congratulate ourselves at times when that happens, it can be quite erratic at the same time in various seasons depending on what we are going through. One day we can be in our spiritual high, kinabukasan, baka wala na. We can be sensitive to God’s sanctifying work in us one day, but in the other days, it might be different. Our flesh is weak; we daily battle against the deceitfulness of sin. And by the the grace of God, we have victories here and there and we praise God for it!

But there are times that we, even us believers, can fall greatly into serious sins. And it only goes to show that exactly like a bruise reed and a smouldering wick, is each and every one of us whether believers or unbelievers, tanggapin na natin.. we are not strong in and of ourselves but we are weak. The scripture would often describe us as dead in our trespasses and sins. And apart from the grace of God, we cannot save ourselves. If you are in Christ despite your weakness, it is the tremendous comfort that we have. Christ will not break you nor quench you. He would even graciously restore bruised reeds and fan a flame smouldering wicks. That is how gracious our Lord is. If you are not in Christ as our Lord delays, He will withhold His breaking and His quenching and this is going to be a warning that I would issue as well if you are not in Christ.. to remember. Because in our passage, He did not just stop, stop in saying that He will not break the bruised reeds. Hindi lang Siya huminto by saying that He will not quench the smouldering wick, but at the same time, our passage tells us that until He brings justice into victory. Now, the justice of God is a, has a great scope. We’ve talked about it earlier in terms of how it was fulfilled in the person and work of Christ. But God’s justice also involves His justice towards unrepentant sinners. Because justice will one day be brought into completion when He comes again the second time and on that day, the bruised reeds and the smouldering wicks, the unbelievers who would not place their faith in Christ will be broken and be quenched. And that is not unfair because they would simply receive the justice of God. And so if you are not in Christ. If you have not placed your faith in the One who can only give us hope, the One who is gentle and lonely and tenderhearted toward sinners, I urge you to come to Him.

Respond positively to His invitation to rest in His Son. And my dear brethren, this truth, again, should bring a tremendous comfort to us. Christ can be compassionate for in his Earthly ministry. He was acquainted Himself with all of our weakness, with all of our temptations to sin, yet as the author of Hebrews tells us that He did not commit any sin. He was sinless. He willingly subjected Himself through all these so that He might become a sympathetic, compassionate Saviour for each of us. That as we come to Him in prayer, that as we approach his throne of grace, alam natin exactly that He knows how to become compassionate towards us because He Himself was acquainted with it. So be assured of that truth, fellow saints who are weak, that Christ our compassionate Saviour will not break nor quench us. And therefore, freely come to our gentle and compassionate Saviour with Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, we come before His throne to give Him praise and thanksgiving, but be open as well to Him and lay before Him our sins that we daily battle with. We have been called the scripture to cast our cares upon Him, because He cares for us. That’s how compassionate our Lord is. Seek His strength for He is gentle and compassionate in dealing with us.

Looking back to 2023, uso ngayon sa social media yung tinatap-tap natin, see how you, how it look like for you, we see that in the music application in our social media. In light of the providence of God, how do you think it would look like? How do you think it would come out if we would look at how and look back and reflect on how dealt with us in His providence throughout the past years? Would we say that ‘ang harsh ng Panginoon, grabe!’ or would we say that I praise God for despite all these trials, I saw His mercies, I have enjoyed the graces that was made available to me. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon dahil for most of the Lord’s day or in all of the Lord’s Day, the 53 Lord’s days in 2023, nandito ako, nakapakinig ako ng sermon Niya, napaalalahanan ako ng gospel that gave me strength all throughout the days of my 2023. That though I failed, that though I fell into sin at times, but He was merciful and gracious to me. Often, the problem would be whenever we think that we are strong enough, that we fail to see our need of grace, or when we are indifferent with our sinful tendencies and we would say ‘normal lang naman heh kasi ganito lang ako as a person. Magpapasensiya naman sa akin yung mga kapatid ko’ without realising that it is a sin that is breathing in your hearts that you need to repent of. And failing to acknowledge before Him, yung ating mga nagiging struggle with sin only shows that we do not recognise that we are in need of His grace. And brethren, when we let sin and pride harbour in our hearts, allowing it to direct and influence our deeds, God may be pleased to cause further bruisings in our lives. Not for the sake of harming you, not for the sake of delighting on the fact that ‘oh, look at my child, he is having a hard time’, no. But that is for you to learn to turn away from it and to depend upon Him.

So how is He molding you at the moment, dear brethren? How would you describe this discipline and work of sanctification in our lives? As we have experienced the gentleness of our Lord, paano rin ba tayo nagde-deal with our fellow brethren when we know that they too are experiencing the same set of sin that they battle with? In what way do we show His gentleness to our fellow members? That rather than breaking and quenching, God, through Christ remember, restores us. For instance, whenever we come into the preaching of God’s word, this is not a moment of lambasting para sa ating matitigas ang mga ulo, okay. But rather this is a time for us to be restored and to be reminded of the gospel. And when you are subject to the discipline of the church, the goal is not to put you to shame na tingnan ninyo itong tao na ito, unrepentant, hindi ganun yun. But rather, it is… the goal is for us to be restored. That’s how compassionate our Saviour is. He does not bring us into destruction even if we deserve exactly just that. But rather He deals with us with His tender heart. Because we, who have come to the knowledge of His Son, are united through Him and just as the Father loves the Son, so the Father also gives us His love just as He has loved the Son.

So Richard Sibbes wrote a book entitled “The Bruised Reed.” And in this book, he unpacks on how Christ will not break the bruised reed or quench the smouldering flaps or wick. One of the people who benefited from his work later on, is of course very well known to us is Martin Lloyd Jones. He says concerning the work of Richard Sibbes and I quote, “I shall never cease to be grateful to Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at the period of my life when I was overworked and badly overtired. And therefore, subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil, I found that at that time, that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early 17th century as “The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes” which by the way ang tawag din daw kay Martin Lloyd Jones ay “The Doctor.” There was an unfailing remedy. The bruised reed quieted, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me. Now, this work is not giving any form of advice para tayo ay maka-feel ng any any certain level of comfort in the midst of our affliction and in the realisation of our sin, but it unpacks the graces of God in Christ that restores, that strengthens that fans of flames, the bruised reed and the smouldering flaps like you and I. And so are you in any affliction? Are you weighed down because of your sins? Find comfort from our compassionate Saviour, Jesus Christ. He offers a sure and steadfast hope and tenderly deals with our brokenness. That is how gracious our Saviour is. That is how Christ is and therefore, church come boldly to Him for He’s our hope-giving Redeemer.

Let’s pray. Our faithful Lord and Father who was sent His Son to become the Servant, who would give His life as a ransom for many, what we blessing to be a partaker of Your grace, oh Lord, that we can be… we can call ourselves as Your bride. And we pray, and we give thanks to You for You have revealed Your character to us; that we can have confidence to draw near to You because You are gracious and merciful, gentle and lowly. And in Your humility, You have humbled Yourself so that we, who are weak and heavily laden can find rest in Your Son. And so we pray that we would always find it and recognise that, recognise our, our state of being bruised and being a smouldering flap so that we can continuously recognise our need and dependence upon You. And so we pray Lord God that as we engage in our conversation with our brethren, may we fulfill our responsibility as covenant members to strengthen each other and to show the hope that we have in Christ and to gently deal with our struggles. We give thanks to you oh Lord. In this we pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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