Jesus has just left the scheming Pharisees behind. He knew what they were up to and He chose not to engage them, for now. He simply “withdrew from there” to an unspecified place. He didn’t go alone though. He was followed by many people seeking healing.
Here again, Jesus tells those He heals not to “make Him known” (verse 16). Matthew doesn’t tell us if they share what has happened anyway, but I think they probably did. No one else so far has listened to this instruction, why would we believe they would be any different? Jesus’ fame keeps growing no matter how many times He says to keep it quiet.
I have often wondered why Jesus told the people not to tell about Him and today we get to see the answer. He is actually fulfilling one of the prophecies about Him in Isaiah. Matthew quotes the parts pertaining to Jesus’ instructions in verses 18-21. I want to go verse by verse here to learn of this aspect from prophecy.
Jesus is God’s most beloved of all times. Jesus IS God. He is part of the Triune being of God. He is God the Son. He is also fully man. Jesus is God’s flesh and blood Son. There is no one closer to God than Jesus. Everything He does pleases God, because Jesus does His Father’s will EXACTLY.
Jesus, as part of the Godhead also has access to the Third Person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was actually conceived through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus throughout His ministry on earth. Bible Hub.com addresses this aspect of Jesus and the Holy Spirit far better than I can. I encourage you to check it out.
Jesus was sent to the House of Israel as His place of ministry. But Israel rejected Him. He continued teaching and preaching in their midst but also often times impacted the Gentile community. A few examples of this are the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant (Matt. 8:5-13), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42), and the Canaanite mother who said to Him, “Yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table” (Matt. 15:21-28). Jesus told the Samaritan woman that salvation was OF the Jews. He did NOT say salvation was only FOR the Jews. Jesus said that God was seeking true worshipers that would worship Him in spirit and in truth. After Jesus’ resurrection these worshipers would then include the Gentiles.
Jesus debated with the Pharisees when they approached Him. He DID NOT seek them out or start arguments with them, but He did not cower from them when they challenged them either. He did not stand on the street corner and “hawking His wares.” He went about quietly teaching, preaching, and ministering to those in need. His fame spread in spite of His efforts to remain discreet.
In all Jesus’ dealings with those seeking help, He showed compassion to them all. The closest He came to saying “no” to someone in need is the Canaanite mother referenced earlier. I believe Jesus knew her faith when He was speaking to her and had no intention of turning her away. He had a lesson for those hearing this exchange and His initial reluctance was part of it.
Jesus also fanned the flame of early belief, as He did with the father of the epileptic boy who said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-27) He didn’t crush this father’s belief but blew upon it causing it to grow.
Jesus continued to reach out to the children of Israel to the very end of His life. He was delivering to them victory, but they refused to accept it. The justice for their rejection of Him was to remove the highly prized gift He was offering from their midst and offer it to others who would welcome it. Those without hope now had it. Jesus was that hope. He is still that hope for any of the Jews who would receive it, but as a nation, their exclusivity to God was gone.
Father God, once again, I am so sorry for the way Jesus was treated by His own people. I know it was part of Your plan, but my heart breaks to know what He endured at the hands of His own brothers. I am MORE than grateful to receive the gift they refused! Offering Your gift to me, a Gentile, was also part of Your plan. Thank You for including me from the beginning. Without Jesus and His willingness to endure everything required in Your plan, I would be hopeless. You are my hope, my joy and my salvation. Remind me to share that same gift I freely received with others who are searching. Thank You for the opportunity to learn of You and share You through the written word; Yours first then mine. Let my words touch hearts like Yours does for mine.