Upon learning that the Pharisees and the party followers of Herod plan to kill him, Jesus and his disciples withdraw to the Sea of Galilee. Great crowds flock to him from all over—from Galilee, the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon, the eastern side of the Jordan River, Jerusalem, and Idumea farther south. Jesus cures many. As a result, those with serious diseases press forward. Not waiting for him to touch them, they eagerly reach out to touch him.—Mark 3:9, 10.
The crowds are so large that Jesus tells his disciples to get a small boat ready for him so that he can pull away from shore and keep the crowds from pressing in on him. Also, he can teach them from the boat or move to another area along the shore to help more people.
The disciple Matthew notes that Jesus’ activity fulfills “what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet.” (Matthew 12:17) What prophecy is Jesus here fulfilling?
“Look! My servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom I have approved! I will put my spirit upon him, and what justice is he will make clear to the nations. He will not quarrel nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the main streets. No bruised reed will he crush, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish, until he brings justice with success. Indeed, in his name nations will hope.”—Matthew 12:18-21; Isaiah 42:1-4.
Jesus, of course, is the beloved servant whom God approves. Jesus makes clear what is true justice, which is being obscured by false religious traditions. Unjustly applying God’s Law in their own way, the Pharisees will not even come to a sick person’s aid on the Sabbath! Making evident God’s justice and showing that God’s spirit is upon him, Jesus relieves people of the burden of unjust traditions. For that the religious leaders want to kill him. How deplorable!
What does it mean that “he will not quarrel nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the main streets”? When curing people, Jesus does not allow them—or the demons—“to make him known.” (Mark 3:12) He does not want people to learn about him through noisy advertising in the streets or through distorted reports that are excitedly passed from mouth to mouth.
Also, Jesus carries his comforting message to those who are figuratively like a bruised reed, bent over and knocked down. They are like a smoldering wick, whose last spark of life has nearly flickered out. Jesus does not crush the bruised reed or quench the flickering, smoking flax. Rather, with tenderness and love, he skillfully lifts up the meek. Truly, Jesus is the one in whom the nations can hope!