Matt. 12:15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16 and he ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “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.
19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smoldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
Jesus had been engaged in preaching and healing, but everywhere he went those who conspired against him followed along, trying to cause trouble. These were those bent on his destruction. He intentionally withdrew from them and from the public eye in a desire to curb the publicity. Jesus was a servant leader, not a self-promoter. He didn’t want the attention for himself, he wanted to glorify his father. If his presence created too much of a public fuss, he withdrew.
By Jesus’ response Matthew sees him fulfilling the prophetic words of Isaiah. God is pleased with this type of servant leadership. He is not violent, and yet he is passionate about justice and is ultimately victorious.
Jesus’ withdrawal also allows for time to be alone with the Father. Jesus often leaves to find a quiet time and space to spend in prayer. Therefore he withdraws from the confrontation and unites himself to the will of the Father and in that space he is able to move forward with his ministry. This is a servant leader.
We love to be right, don’t we? These days there are many ways in which to confront those with whom we may not agree. We don’t have to confront them in person, but we can stealthily strike others through social media! Literally it can come out of nowhere and destroy before we even know it.
This was a tactic that I believe Jesus would have refused to employ. He could not be prodded into a predictable human response and this is what we need to learn from him. We may encounter those who do not like what we do, or at least disagree with the ways in which we do things, but Jesus becomes our model for response. There are times when we simply need to withdraw.
A servant leader doesn’t immediately fight back in defense but instead may withdraw to spend time with the Father and to learn from him what the proper response should be. Jesus wasn’t trying to win the day, he was trying to win the battle for the long haul. He had eternal views in mind and proving himself right to the religious officials would never have brought about salvation for all of humankind. Ultimately he wanted his Father to get the glory. He was not a self-promoter and was not desiring the attention for himself.
A servant leader puts the needs of those whom he/she is serving above his/her own. Jesus was willing to suffer for us.
If we are poised to respond immediately to all that we encounter, maybe we need to take a lesson from Jesus.
Don’t post that first thought on Facebook.
Take the long view.
And then only act on God’s desires.
The world needs more servant leaders!
Lord, help me to slow down enough to withdraw and lear from you. Amen.
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