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Lent for Everyone: Week 2, Thursday (120308)

Lent For Everyone Reading Plan

This is Thursday of the second week of Lent. The reading is Matthew 12:1-21. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)

Wright focuses on the long quote from Isaiah 42 in this section of Matthew. Matthew would have expected his readers not just to remember the immediate context, but the whole section of Isaiah, which culminates in Isaiah 53 and the suffering of the servant.

Wright says ” Matthew is keen to point out here that Jesus is redefining what God’s kingdom looks like, and hence what being God’s Messiah might actually mean. In fact, of course, what he says here is exactly in line with the Sermon on the Mount. The meek will inherit the earth, and Jesus is leading the way. God’s kingdom belongs to the humble, and Jesus is showing how it’s done. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who suffer, are persecuted, and even killed, because they are following God’s way . . . and Jesus will go ahead of them in that, too. Matthew, by quoting this passage here, is pointing forwards all the way to the climax of his gospel, when Jesus will be ‘enthroned’ as ‘king of the Jews’ by being nailed to the cross.”

He concludes “In particular, those of us who struggle from time to time in our faith and discipleship should take heart from Isaiah’s words, applied here to Jesus: he will not break a bruised reed, or quench a smouldering wick. His task, and his delight, is gently to fan into flames what was smouldering, gently to strengthen and firm up the weak, bruised faith, hope and love that we have at the moment. Let that be our prayer this Lent.”

In addition to all that, I was struck by the repeated mention of the Gentiles in Matthew’s quote. Clearly this Gospel of the Kingdom is not to be just for the Jews, but for all the nations. Hope of the Nations