Opposition to Jesus was rising. While the Lord would not shrink from opposition, it was too soon to allow a plot against him to succeed. He withdrew to the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 12:15; Mark 3:7-8).
There is a revealing look into the heart of God’s son in Matthew chapter 12. It is seen in Isaiah’s prophecy hundreds of years before Jesus ever came to the world, and it shows precisely what Jesus was most interested in doing.
Isaiah described Jacob as his “servant” in Isaiah 42:1. Matthew uses a term that is unlike the usual word in the New Testament. He calls Jesus God’s child who is beloved and chosen. Jesus was beloved and chosen because he would give his life and blood for those lost and estranged from God in sin. He would die for people who hated him.
The apostle Paul explained this in poignant terms in Romans 5:7-8 by saying that while we still lived in sin, Christ died for us. Paul used the most tender and loving earthly example of this by saying that people do die for those they love, but Christ would die for people who hated him.
King David, prophesying Christ’s death in Psalm chapter 22, expressed this quality only Jesus possessed. By the inspiration of God, David wrote the very words the Pharisees would say to the son of God as he was dying (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:43). Isaiah also foretold the agony of Jesus dying for those who hated him (Isaiah 53:7-9).
Jesus’ death was more than a man dying for other men. He meant to substitute his life and blood for people who had never seen or known him. Even though we lived as sinners, Christ had all of us in mind when he died for us. That is greater than any death that anyone on earth would die. It is a greater love than any man ever knew.
Jesus’ love for you and me was the reason God sent his servant — his only son — into the world. Even though we turned our backs on him, he gave himself to redeem our souls. What greater love could there be?