I Am a Bruised Reed

June 23, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

The latter third of Isaiah contains some sweeping prophecies of global justice and peace. Justice and peace that seem to be absent from our daily lives in this broken world. Justice and peace that legislators in multiple nations clamor to secure and provide. Justice and peace that we long for on an individual basis when we suffer from the oppression of sin.

Justice and peace.

Where are they?

Isaiah 42:1 invites us to “behold” God’s servant, who will “bring forth justice to the nations.” God’s plan for justice and peace in the world is his choice servant. In contrast with the trampling of world leaders like Cyrus (Is. 41:25) and in contrast with the emptiness and delusion of false gods (Is. 41:29), God draws our attention to his servant, who is empowered by God (42:1), does not call attention to himself (42:2), and is gentle with the oppressed and downtrodden (42:3).

Look at verse 3 carefully with me: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” Don’t miss the irony of this verse: God’s plan for world peace centers on a “servant” who will have unique care for individuals who are weak, oppressed, downtrodden, useless, broken, and near extinction. Simply astonishing!

What does this mean for us?

1. We are the bruised reed and faintly burning wick. Matthew quotes Isaiah 42, stating that Jesus fulfills this prophecy (Matt. 12:15-21). The context is a description of Jesus’ “hidden” ministry with hurting people. “He healed them all.” Earlier in Matthew, Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ critique of his ministry, saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, bit those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13). The “bruised reed” and the “faintly burning wick” are individuals, like you and me, who have been ravaged by the effects of sin (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, etc.). Part of understanding ourselves and others correctly is perceiving these effects from sin. God’s plan for world peace and justice focuses on individuals. No one gets lost in the system.

2. Jesus is our sufficient healer and provider. As we just saw, the New Testament sees Jesus as the Servant of the Lord spoken about in Isaiah. Consider again Isaiah 42:3. The servant will not break the bruised reed; he will not quench the smoldering wick. What does he do then for the reed and wick? He restores health like no other and he supplies sufficiently like no other. The reed is healed and the wick will never lack supply of fuel. Think about that. Sin has ravaged each of us. Some of us are broken beyond human repair. Some of us are spent beyond human supply. All of us are needy. Jesus breaks the power of sin and has already begun to reverse the effects of sin. One day, in his return, Jesus will finish his work, not overlooking any single individual’s need. That is God’s plan for justice and peace.

3. We promote God’s justice and peace in this world by introducing others to Jesus. Later in Isaiah, still in the context of describing the unique work of the Servant of the Lord, we read, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace…” (Is. 52:7). This good news is the advent of the Servant of the Lord! God’s plan for peace is his Servant. How can we strive for the peace of others without publishing the peace that comes through Jesus?

As you navigate through this tumultuous world we live in, longing for justice and peace to prevail, look to God’s Servant.


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