Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory (Matt. 12:18-20).
Why does the text say that God’s messianic servant will neither strive nor cry? Jesus did drive the money-changers from the temple – a form of striving, surely. He did preach publicly; men did hear His voice in the streets. I think the passage refers to judicial striving: His refusal to defend Himself in His confrontation with the two courts that condemned Him – Jewish and Roman, ecclesiastical and civil. “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly” (Matt. 27:12-14).
Jesus did answer Pilate in their second confrontation, after Pilate had released Barabbas. This time, He identified the mark of His judicial subordination: His disciples did not fight to defend Him. Why didn’t they? Because His kingdom did not originate in this world. He did not say that His kingdom was not in this world; on the contrary, he had already said that it was: “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11:20). But this kingdom did not originate in history. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).
Jesus therefore did not shout in the streets for His followers to fight. He remained judicially silent before His accusers, refusing to present His counter-lawsuit: a covenant lawsuit against them for false witness. He allowed them to execute their false covenant lawsuit against Him. He subordinated Himself to them judicially in order that He might suffer a judicially representative death. His death on the cross was the only way to achieve the salvation of the gentiles and world dominion representatively through His covenant people. Without this, there could be no judicially representative resurrection in history. Men would perish in their sins.
Protestantism’s Empty Cross
Jesus suffered the ultimate indignity in history: death at the hands of false witnesses. This was the ultimate act of subordination for someone who possessed the cosmic power to escape the courts’ sentence of death. But the exercise of such cosmic power would have dissolved the bounds of history: a breaking-in on the ultimate drama in history. Adam’s fall took place inside the bounds of history; Jesus had to overcome its effects inside the bounds of history. So does His Church.
Amillennialists and premillennialists insist that this task cannot be achieved in history, or even approached as a limit. They see the Church’s deliverance as being outside history: a cosmic breaking-in by Jesus. They insist that the Church must remain subordinate in history to covenant-breakers, who will continue to run this world until Jesus returns bodily, either to set up a theocratic-bureaucratic kingdom (premillennialism) or at the final judgment which ends history (amillennialism). They insist that subordination of covenant-keepers to covenant-breakers during “the Church Age” is inescapable. In short, they insist, cultural subordination.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)