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Exodus 12:37-42

Psalm 136:1, 10-15, 23-24

Matthew 12:14-21

Dear Christians, today we see Jesus suddenly quitting the confrontation with the Pharisees and withdrawing. Why did he withdraw? Couldn’t he confront them? Couldn’t he defeat them with his wisdom? Was he afraid of them? And this isn’t the first time. When John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus withdrew into Galilee (cf. Mt 4:12). This non-confrontational Jesus was not what John expected the Messiah to be (cf. Mt 11:3). John was beheaded, and Jesus withdrew again (cf. Mt 14:13). What is the meaning of this withdrawal? Is this another side of Jesus? Is this the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of children’s lullabies?

Matthew seems to think it is. He quotes Isaiah’s message about God’s tender sensitivity for fragile people, portraying Jesus as the embodiment of God’s heart. What a contrast to the rulers of this world! Jesus doesn’t quarrel or raise his voice to get his demands met. You never hear him yelling his orders across the street. He’s so conscious of his people’s struggles. He sees the one who’s struggling to find their way through the dark, the one whose lamp is a smoldering wick in the wind. Divine authority is a banquet of justice served with gentleness.

Justice confronts those who have power: that power must be given over to God, for his kingdom to be established. But Jesus will bring justice without the collateral damage, without force, without war, without harming the people in the trenches. That is why it takes so long. Jesus fights for justice, but he will not let the fight become violent. That is why he stopped fighting and withdrew at this point.

If you tend to avoid conflict, look at Jesus and learn how to fight for justice. It matters. If you tend to fight, look at Jesus and learn when to withdraw. Jesus is leading us to justice, without war. We follow him in the fight that destroys injustice without destroying anyone. That is the future our king is leading us to, guided by his Holy Spirit.

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