Matthew is quoting a prophecy from Isaiah 42, applying it to Jesus in a time of rising conflict. In spite of the conflict, Jesus refuses to stop ministering even though he is under intense scrutiny and faced fierce opposition. Instead, he takes his closest followers and teaches them his will and shares his healing grace with those who are in need. With God’s approval and the power of the Holy Spirit upon him, he cares for the broken in the face of hostility and shares grace in the face of criticism. Through kindness, compassion, integrity, and passion, Jesus works to accomplish what only Immanuel can do — brings God’s grace and social justice to all nations — and he does it even under unfair scrutiny because the Father has empowered him through the Holy Spirit!
O Father, we confess that we sometimes give in to fear. We fear aging and illness. We fear the crazy swings in the economy. We fear the legal opposition to practicing our faith openly in our schools, at work, or online. We confess that when we fear these things, we forget that you are still at work in our world and in us. Give us courage and tenderness through the work of your Spirit within us so that we will minister as Jesus did, including in times of opposition and hardship. In Jesus’ name, we request this grace. Amen.