I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; yet surely my just reward is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
The Lord Jesus had come as the Saviour of His people Israel in order to bring them peace. Quoting the prophet Isaiah (ch. 61, vv. 1, 2), He said of Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit by God and went about in the villages and towns of Galilee and Judah, “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10, 38). He expended His energy from early morning to late evening, serving people mercifully. “He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17; cf. Isaiah 53:4).
But His purpose was not simply to heal people’s illnesses, but primarily to save their souls. So He taught them and convicted them of their sinful condition. He opposed false teachers and exposed hypocrites. He cleansed the temple of all that had no place there, thus fulfilling the prophecy: “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (Psalm 69:9; cf. John 2:17).
Just as the prophet Isaiah had laboured in vain and spent his strength for nothing, so, too, did the Lord. His people despised His love, refused to believe Him and rejected Him. How He felt it! Yet it did not embitter Him. He dedicated Himself wholly to fulfilling God’s will, knowing that God acknowledged Him. His reward was indeed with His God.