“A Description of Christ”, a sermon preached at the Baptist Church in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, August 11 2019

Matthew 12:14–21 (NKJV)

14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

18   “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,

My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

19   He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

20   A bruised reed He will not break,

And smoking flax He will not quench,

Till He sends forth justice to victory;

21   And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

The words that Matthew quotes here are from Isaiah 42:1-2. He says that Jesus did these things “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet” (v. 17).

Matthew says (v. 16) that Jesus “warned them not to make Him know, (v. 17) that it might be fulfilled…” Apparently Matthew is saying that these words of prophecy by Isaiah are fulfilled by the fact that Jesus did not want to be known.

Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus often warned people not to spread the word of what he had done, not to tell others, yet, that he was the Messiah. We know that on at least one occasion the people were so excited about all the miracles that Jesus was doing that they wanted to come and make him king by force. The problem was that the Jews had false expectations of what Jesus was there for. They wanted him to overthrow the Romans, and set up a kingdom in Israel, and reign like David did, physically and militarily.

Now Jesus will do that we he comes a second time. He will defeat his enemies and overthrow not just Roma but anyone who opposes him. And he will sit on David’s throne forever.

But not yet. First, he had to go to Calvary. He first had to experience the suffering of his trial and beating and crucifixion. First, he had to pay for the sins of the world. First, he had to rise from the dead and bring justification to many.

So, until that time, he did not want people to know that he was the Messiah because they misunderstood what the Messiah really was. After he died on the cross and rose from the dead, then he wanted the whole world to know he was the Messiah because then they could see what kind of Messiah he was. He was the Messiah who suffered, died and was raised from the dead.

But this passage in Matthew 12 is taking place during Jesus’ life on earth before he went to the cross. So now, he does not want people to tell who he is, and this fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy.

It says in v. 19 that [Matthew 12:19 (NKJV)]

19   He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

Now, other kings did want to use force. They did want to cry out in the streets. They wanted everyone to know that they were the new king. They would want to show off their power and glory.

But in his first coming, Jesus was not that way. The first time he came, he did not come in glory. He came in humility and as a servant.

This morning, I want to look at these words of Isaiah which Matthew uses to describe Jesus. And I want to focus on this description of Christ, so that we can learn more about our Savior.

So, what does this passage in Isaiah 42, repeated in Matthew 12, teach us about the Lord Jesus. We will point out several things that we can observe in this passage.

  • Jesus is chosen by God.
  • He is dear to God, beloved.
  • God is completely pleased with Jesus
  • God has anointed Him with the Spirit, calling him to an important task and qualifying him to carry out that task.
  • We also see ‘how’, ‘in what way’, he will carry it out: with quietness, gentleness and peace.

18   v. 18 a “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,

  1. First, we see the remark, “Behold”! This is a word to get our attention. “Behold, my servant”! Pay attention! Lend me your ear! Listen to what I have to say! Behold”! Of all the things I could bring to your attention right now, there is nothing more important than My Servant. He is to be your focus. He is the one who should be the very center of your attention. “Behold!”

Behold and be amazed at My Servant.

Are you dejected? In My Servant is comfort.

Are you sinful? In My Servant is righteousness

Are you blind? In My Servant there is light and sight.

My Servant, Jesus, is the medicine for every disease and the comfort in all suffering.

Christ is lovely. He is greater than the greatest thing we could think about. He is lovelier than the most beautiful scene we have seen or can imagine. He is more precious that all the things we so foolishly value in this short, temporary life. He is sweeter than that which we most desire or can even imagine desiring.

This is Jesus. This is the one we adore, or at least, should adore. This is the one that everyone should adore. It is a shame that most people go through life completely ignorant of his existence and of his beauty. Even among those in the church and those who profess the name of Jesus, there is great ignorance of him. Very few know him in his fullness. Very few recognize his beauty, his sweetness, his loveliness, his preciousness.

This passage describes Jesus.

God, through the prophet Isaiah, said that:

Jesus is chosen

Jesus is loved

Jesus has the Spirit of God

Jesus is gentle

Jesus is the one that all people should trust in

How did he once describe himself? He compared himself to one great, precious pearl that is of such great value that a man would sell everything else to get it. He described himself as a treasure, hidden in a field. Someone who finds it would recognize its value and sell all the possessions he had just go buy the field in order to get that one treasure.

Matthew 13:44–46 (NIV)

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The man is wise who does this. He recognizes the value of something and gets rid of everything else which might prevent him from getting it.

That is what Christ is like: a precious treasure, a beautiful gift, a sweet desire and a lovely reward.

Christ knows the temptations that we face. The temptation to ignore him. The temptation to be content here and now in this world, loving and treasuring what we see and feel on this earth. But he calls us to a higher plane. The Spirit shows us Christ’s incalculable worth and draws us away from the attractions of this earth.

John 6:35 (NIV)

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 7:37 (NIV)

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

We have been told this before, but we forget it. We may know that this is true, but we are so easily distracted and lose sight of this truth.

One way for a believer to change that, is to focus on the return of Christ. When we realize that he is coming again, and that at that time he will usher us into eternal happiness, this gives us the perfect antidote against the pull of this world.

Luke 12:35–37 (NIV)

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

I find myself easily distracted during the day. I can start off on the right foot by beginning my day with prayer and Bible reading. But even then I can be distracted with thoughts about everything that happened the day before or that needs to happen today. And once I finish my quiet time and head off into the day of work and service, my thought of Christ and his loveliness are easily swept away.

It is a battle to remain focused on him. But it is a battle worth fighting. We do have the means to win this battle. Christ has given us his Spirit to live in us to remind us of these things, and he has given us his Word as a permanent reminder of these things.

Psalm 119:97 (NIV)

97 Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long.

Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

When lovers are away from each other, no one has to remind them of this. Countless times throughout the day, their thoughts return to their boyfriend or girlfriend, their fiancé and fiancée, their husband or wife. May we put Christ so often before our eyes, that we never forget him. So that our thoughts continually drift back in his direction. So that we remember him and long for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Philippians 3:20 (NKJV)

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Revelation 22:20 (NIV)

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Let’s return to Matthew 12:18-21.

Matthew 12:18–21 (NKJV)

18   “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,

My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

19   He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

20   A bruised reed He will not break,

And smoking flax He will not quench,

Till He sends forth justice to victory;

21   And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

God the Father is speaking here, through Isaiah and then through Matthew, about Christ.

He says, “Behold”. He turns our attention to his Son. He says, in so many words, listen, look, and pay attention. This is my Son. Behold him! He is my dear servant. Of all there is in the universe, I treasure him. I have chosen him. He is my beloved. My soul delights in him. And you, too, you gentiles, are to do the same. Trust in his name. Trust in who he is. Let him be your souls delight. Let him be your beloved. Let your soul be well pleased with him. Let him be your delight.

Isaiah said, “Behold My Servant!” Jesus came to earth as a servant.

Philippians 2:7–8 (NIV)

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

A servant or slave was in a lower position. He was someone with no rights, who was completed subjugated to another person. Jesus was a servant in that he humbled himself and obey God in all things.

But in the Bible, servant also has another connotation. A servant of the Lord, or a servant of a king, was a person who had a very high position of importance and authority. A servant of a king may be an ambassador for the king, who can carry out the king’s will with the king’s authority. And Jesus is also that kind of servant. He was chosen and sent by God the Father to perform God’s will.

Jesus was a unique servant because he had a unique task. His servant’s task was to take away the sins of the world. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18

1 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.                              

That task could not be done by just any servant. It had to be the Servant of the Lord, the Servant whom God had chosen. This Servant’s task was to reconcile a sinful world to a holy God. This was a task which could only be completed by one whom God had chosen, called and qualified. Jesus was that Servant. He was chosen by God, called by God and qualified by God to reconcile sinful man to the righteous God. As it says in Colossians 1:19-20:

Colossians 1:19–20 (NIV)

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord. And he also served us. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said about himself:

Matthew 20:28 (NKJV)

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus was a servant to us. He suffered the punishment for our sins. He gave his life as a ransom for us.

This is truly amazing and something at which should wonder and be amazed. Though God, he took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6). God became a man. The glorious God lowered himself to become a human and a servant. The blessed God became a curse. It is almost incomprehensible to think that this all-powerful God should die for guilty sinners. As one preacher said, “Only in Christianity did the eternal, almighty King die in order to redeem his rebellious subjects.”

So, here in Matthew 12:18, Matthew quotes Isaiah and says that Jesus is God’s servant, that God chose him, that he loves him, and that he delights in him.

Matthew 12:18 (NIV)

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

the one I love, in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”

God says that he loves Christ and delights in him. Christ is the loveliest thing there ever was. He is the perfect image of God. He is the perfect representation of God’s character. He is lovely and desirable; he is beautiful, sweet and precious.

There is nothing in Christ which displeases God. There is no sin in him. There is no imperfection in him. It says in Mark 7:37

 Mark 7:37 (NIV)

37 …“He has done everything well,” 

Jesus went about doing good. And he perfectly obeyed God the Father. God saw that and delighted in it. In John 10:17, Jesus said,

John 10:17 (NKJV)

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

This is a source of great comfort for us as believers, because the Bible teaches that we are “in Christ” and that the Father loves us just as he loves his Son, Jesus. Jesus is our righteousness and redemption. When the holy God looks at us, praise God, he does not see our sin and unrighteousness. He sees the righteousness of his Son, Jesus, which covers us and makes us righteous. God delights in his Son and as a result he delights in us, believers—his children.

Although it might see inconceivable, God loves you and me, all believers, in the same way and to the same extent that he loves his only begotten Son, Jesus.

This gives us great assurance and confidence. God accepted his Son, and therefore he accepts us in his Son. And he will not stop loving the church, Christ’s bride, until he stops loving Christ himself, which of course he can never do.

We ourselves are sinful and unworthy. But Christ is worthy and chosen, and God delights in Him. Since we are in Christ, he also delights in and loves us.

Romans 8:35 (NIV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

Romans 8:38–39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We cannot be separated from this one whom God has chosen and whom he loves. God loves and delights in us, because he loves and delights in Christ.

Let’s return to Matthew 12:18.

Matthew 12:18–21 (NKJV)

18   “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,

My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!

I will put My Spirit upon Him,

And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.

“I will put my Spirit upon him” it says in v. 18 a.

This reminds me of another passage in Isaiah, one which Jesus quoted at the beginning of his ministry. He was in the synagogue and he read Isaiah 61:1-2 and said that that day, that prophecy had been fulfilled. He was the anointed one that Isaiah had been talking about:

Isaiah 61:1–2 (NKJV)

61      “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2     To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,

In Old Testaments time, someone was anointed with oil when they were appointed to be either a prophet, or a priest or a king. The Lord Jesus is all three of these. He was anointed by the Spirit as a prophet, as a priest and as a king.

First, he was a prophet. That is, he spoke for God and announced God’s message. Isaiah 61:1 says, “Because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. And returning to Matthew 12:18 where Matthew quotes Isaiah 42, it says “I will put my Spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”

Jesus was a prophet who preached God’s message. And second, he was also a priest. He offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice when he died on the cross as the atonement for our sins.

And third, he was also a king. He rose from the dead and is now Lord of Lord and king of Kings. Philippians 2:9-11 say,

Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Let us remember these truths about Jesus, that he was anointed prophet and priest and king. In Him is everything that we need. As a prophet, he is wise enough because he speaks the truth of God. As a priest, he is sufficient to take away our sins because he offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the altar, that is, on the cross. And as the king he is rich enough to supply all we need and powerful enough to overcome all enemies, and especially the enemy of sin and rebellion that wants to reign in our hearts.

In Christ there is a great storehouse of spiritual treasure, of the comfort and grace that we need. Why should we be dejected when we have such a rich king. Why, when we have so much in abundance, do we act like we are poor beggars. An illustration comes to mind:

Earlier this week we had a camp for Roma teenagers in Orahovica. Our daughter and a team went to the camp early to get things ready. When they got there, they thought that there were no towels in the room. After taking showers they had to dry off with bed sheets and pillow cases. But the next day, when the rest of us got there, we found a closet that had probably 100 towels nicely folded up and stored away. What a perfect illustration! We have all that we need in Christ, who is our wealthy king and has all the resources we need. But sometimes, we don’t know that, or we forget that and thus do not make use of any of it. Christ is not a miserly king. He is wealthy beyond comprehension. He is the fountain and source of all spiritual riches and blessings. And all of it is available to us since we are in Christ.

Christ is a prophet to teach us the way to God.

Christ is the priest who mediates between us and God the Father.

Christ is a king to subdue all our spiritual enemies and to reign over us.

And he is even more than that.

Christ is the light of the world. We do not need to walk in darkness.

Christ is the way. We do not need to wander lost.

Christ is our wisdom. We do not need to remain in ignorance.

It is sad that so many people live as if this were not true. They live as if Christ were nothing to them. But the reality is that for believers he is their prophet, priest and king. He is their head and their husband. He is their way, their truth, and their life.

In Matthew 12:19, it says of Jesus:

Matthew 12:19 (NKJV)

19   He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

This speaks of the gentleness of Christ. When he was here on earth the first time, his manner and his approach were meek and mild. He was not seeking to show off. He was humble and often did not want others to tell about the miracles he had done. We saw that just a few verses earlier in Matthew 12:16

Matthew 12:15–16 (NKJV)

15 … And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known,

He was humble about his healings and miracles and did not seek attention or for his fame to be announced.

We can see the character of Christ in the description here.

Matthew 12:19 (NKJV)

19   He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.

Jesus did not go around proclaiming his title and position. He did not shout so everyone would know who he was. He also did not quarrel. He was not contentious. He was like a quiet lamb led to the slaughter.

Christ has all wisdom so he knows when to do that and when not to. When he came to earth the first time, he was gentle. When he comes again the second time, he will come as a mighty warrior, as a conquering king. He will come with majesty and innumerable angels will accompany him as an army.

But for this first coming, he knew that in order to save the world as prophet, priest and king, he must conceal himself.

We can learn an important lesson from Christ’s example, not to seek our own glory. If we do something good, we should not let everyone else know about it.

Christ is an example to us of deep humility.

So we have come to the end of our study of Matthew 12:14-21 and I have called this sermon “A Description of Christ”. We have seen that Christ is

God’s servant

Chosen by God

Loved by God

One in whom God delights and is well pleased

Anointed by God’s Spirit

Anointed as prophet to speak God’s truth

Anointed as priest to offer himself as a sacrifice for sins

Anointed as king because he reigns now in heaven and will soon reign on earth

He is all wise

He is humble

He is lovely, beautiful and precious to God and to us. Amen!

(For further study: “A Description of Christ” in Sibbes, Richard. The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. Edited by Alexander Balloch Grosart. Vol. 1. Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862.)

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