Commended by the Father
Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; (12:18a)
Pais (Servant) is not the usual word for “servant” and is often translated “son.” In secular Greek it was used of an especially intimate servant who was trusted and loved like a son. In the ancient Greek edition of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), pais is used of Abraham’s chief servant (Gen. 24:2), of Pharaoh’s royal servants (41:10, 38), and of angels as the Lord’s supernatural servants (Job 4:18).
Jesus Christ is God’s supreme Servant, His only Son whom He has chosen to redeem the world. The Greek phrase translated I have chosen (from hairetizō) indicates a firm and determined decision and is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It was used in secular Greek of irrevocably adopting a child into the family as an heir who could never be disenfranchised. The Father had irrevocably chosen His beloved Son to be His divine Servant, the only One qualified for the task of redemption.
Because the prophets frequently spoke of God’s choosing the Messiah, He was often referred to as “The Chosen One.” At Jesus’ crucifixion, “the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ [Messiah] of God, His Chosen One’ ” (Luke 23:35). The fact that they knew so much truth about the Messiah made them all the more culpable for rejecting Him.
Jesus is the Father’s beloved, in whom His soul is well-pleased. It is through the grace of God “which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved,” that “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:6–7). The One who is hated and rejected by the world, including His own people, is beloved by God, who is well-pleased. Against the testimony of Israel and of the world is the testimony of the Father. Jesus said, “If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true … the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me” (John 5:31–32, 36–37).
At Jesus’ baptism the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17), and at the transfiguration He declared again, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (17:5).
It is not possible for men to be well-pleasing to God unless they come to Him through His Son, with whom He is well-pleased. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” Paul tells us. “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:8–9). God is well-pleased with believers because He sees them as He sees His own Son.
Commissioned by the Holy Spirit
will put My Spirit upon Him, (12:18b)
Through Isaiah, God promised that He would put His Spirit upon the Messiah in a unique way, and at Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove (Matt. 3:16). But that was not when He was indwelt by the Spirit. Unique to all mankind, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20); and if John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from His mother’s womb (Luke 1:15), how much more so was Jesus.
Yet, if Jesus was the preexistent Son, eternally one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in what way could the Spirit have come upon Him during His humanity? First of all, the coming of the Spirit upon Jesus was a bestowing of power to His human nature. His divine nature was already one with the Spirit and did not require special assistance, but His human nature did. Jesus was fully human, even to the point of being tempted in the same ways every human being is, yet without sinning (Heb. 4:15). As a child, He grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). He had human feelings and human emotions. He was hungry and thirsty, and He became tired and felt pain and sorrow. His humanness received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in order for it to function in concert with His deity. Therefore “God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38).
Second, Jesus required the anointing of the Spirit in order to attest to His royal service as the Messiah. For thirty years He had lived in obscurity, but when His ministry began He was given a special attestation of authority and approval by the Father. A prophecy of the Messiah was quoted by Jesus and applied to Himself as He taught in the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19). After He sat down, Jesus explained, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21).
As the perfect submissive Servant, Jesus functioned not only in the Father’s will and by the Father’s commendation but in the power of the Father’s Spirit.
Communicating the Message
and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. (12:18c)
Isaiah prophesied that the Lord’s beloved Servant would proclaim a message of truth and justice even to the Gentiles; and that is what Jesus did. Contrary to the thinking and expectations of most Jews, the Messiah was to be the Redeemer of the whole world, not just of Israel. Israel was, in fact, to be the channel of God’s grace to the rest of the world. In His first great promise to Abraham, God declared, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Israel was called to be God’s agency for reaching the world for Himself; and when the Jews as a nation rejected God, He had to raise up a new agent, the church, to accomplish that purpose.
The first woman to whom Jesus revealed His messiahship was a Samaritan, half Jew and half Gentile (John 4:26). Early in His ministry He had Gentile followers from Idumea, the Trans-Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8). Of the Gentile centurion whose servant He healed, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matt. 8:10).
But the Jews resented Jesus’ giving any attention to Gentiles, and especially His treating them equally with Jews. And the idea of the Messiah coming to redeem Gentiles was anathema. When Paul was defending himself before a large group of Jews in Jerusalem, he managed to keep their attention as he recounted his former life, his conversion experience, and his vision in the Temple. But when he reported that God told him, “ ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles,’ … they listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!’ ” They were so uncontrollably incensed that “they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air” (Acts 22:21–23). Almost no truth of the gospel was as hard for Jews to accept as the truth that salvation and fellowship with God were for Gentiles as well as Jews. The notion was utterly inconceivable to them, and, as is clear from the account just mentioned, they considered it a form of blasphemy.
But God’s plan for redemption had always included the Gentiles, and to them the Messiah was to proclaim justice and deliverance from sin just as to the Jews.
18. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
My beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
And he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
It is clear from the entire context that when Matthew in his own way quotes Isa. 42:1–4 he refers this prophecy directly to Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, the Mediator between God and man. Matthew interprets Isa. 42 as Philip the evangelist and as the apostles John and Peter interpreted Isa. 53 (Acts 8:26–35; John 12:37–43; 1 Peter 2:24). In fact, Isa. 42 cannot be separated from Isa. 53. Because of 42:6, 7 (cf. 9:2, 6) it is simply impossible to intepret Isa. 42:1–4 intelligibly except as referring to and being fulfilled in Christ. Moreover, as to the marvelous things said about “the Servant of Jehovah” in Isa. 49:6; 53 (the entire chapter); and 55:3–5, to whom could such statements refer if not to the Son of God who is also the Son of man? Those who refer such passages to Israel forget that 53:6 draws a sharp distinction between a. the people who have gone astray and b. the Servant upon whom Jehovah places the burden of their iniquity (see also verses 4, 5, 8, and 12).
Matthew, then, draws a sharp contrast between a. Christ’s wicked opponents, in this case the Pharisees, who are seeking to destroy him (12:14), and b. Christ himself, the Father’s beloved Son (Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:35; Col. 1:13; 2 Peter 1:17, 18; cf. Ps. 2:6–12), ever eager to do the will of his Sender (John 4:34; 5:30, 36; 17:4).
It is upon this divine and human Redeemer that the Father pours out his Spirit, and this “without measure” (Matt. 3:16; John 3:34, 35; cf. Ps. 45:7; Isa. 11:2; 61:1 ff.). As a result (Luke 4:18) the Mediator carries out his prophetic activity, namely, that of proclaiming “justice,” that which is right, in harmony with the will of God: that sinners repent, come to (that is, believe in) the Savior, find salvation in him, and out of gratitude live to the glory of their Benefactor. See further on verse 21.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 297–299). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 520–521). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.