S (Scripture): Matthew 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted against [Jesus], as to how they could assassinate him. 15Now when Jesus learned of this, he went away from there. Great crowds followed him, and he healed them all. 16 But he sternly warned them not to make him known. 17 This fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet:
18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I take great delight.
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick, until he brings justice to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
O (Observation): Jesus is feeling more pressure now. The Pharisees (the religious rule-makers) are plotting to corner Jesus and kill him (theologically and physically). They are becoming violent as Jesus starts to mess with their identity as God’s people.
And to double-down, the author of Matthew connects Isaiah’s prophecy to Jesus. Jesus is the one to bring hope to all nations.
Over the centuries, the Pharisees seemed most concerned with establishing their identity as God’s people TO THE EXCLUSION of all other people and nations. This went on for so long that God’s people forgot their purpose: to be a light to the nations.
Jesus brought back to center God’s purpose for God’s people: to proclaim that God brings hope and justice for ALL people.
A (Application): We (church people) can have a tendency to feel so strongly about our theology and self-righteousness, we can often be blinded to the need for justice and hope for the world. We are not the hope, but we bear the word of hope and can take steps toward justice…just like acknowledging that we are not the Good News, but we bring that Good News to others through word and deed.
Yesterday I spoke with the imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM), Sheikh Ossama Bahloul. He and I have become friends and I wish him well in his new endeavors into academia, away from his role as imam (pastor) to the ICM. He leaves this position on good terms with his people of faith and wishes to continue his journey towards hope and justice for all people.
My hope for peace and justice extends to the Muslim community here in Murfreesboro. Why? Because Muslims are people, too : )
It’s that simple.
I’ve been “warned” so many times to be careful…that I’m being misled by them…that their agenda is to infiltrate our communities and “take over.” I cannot disagree more with this mindset.
I think people are afraid of losing the illusion of a “Christian nation.” That we are somehow weakened by not being in control. If we take a look at what Jesus does, he is not concerned with control. He focuses on hope and justice, instead.
I’m not wanting people to change religions. I just want people to engage in healthy open dialogue, so we can get to know one another more. Osama wants the same thing. The Pharisees saw their role as securing their identity as God’s people to the exclusion of all others. Jesus has a different way. I want the Jesus way.
P (Prayer): Lord, please take off our blinders and open our hearts and minds that we might be bearers of your hope and justice. Amen.