THE VERSE - Matthew: 18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”
IMAGE: A bruised reed
What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoking flax?
A reed that groweth in the marsh, let but the wild duck light upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro.
You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed. Then look at the smoking flax — what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant's breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame. Weak things are here described, yet Jesus says of them, “The smoking flax I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break.”
Some of God's children are made strong to do mighty works for Him; God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza's gates, and carry them to the top of the hill; He has a few mighties who are lion-like men, but the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passer by; a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint; their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave, they are drifted along like a sea bird on the crest of the billows — weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight. Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made specially to them. Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and lovingkindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus—so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from his touch. We need never fear a harsh word from Him; though He might well chide us for our weakness, He rebukes not. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from Him, and the smoking flax no damping frowns.
WHY IS JESUS PORTRAYED AS THE LION AND THE LAMB?
Ask people how they can achieve success in our society and among the answers will be “having power.” We live in a world in which having power is seen as being of the utmost importance. In business, in politics, and even in social clubs having power is a key part of getting things changed to the way you want them. We should keep in mind that the push by certain groups for “their rights” is not about equality, but about gaining power.
In the quest for power we find many people who will do almost anything to attain it. In business, we find people that will trample all over co-workers in order to attain the next higher position. Some will compromise their personal integrity in order to get ahead. In social settings, pandering is used in order to get close to those in power, and then gossip is also used to strike down the competition. Politics is filled with those who will say anything in order to get elected. All of us are aware of elections in which the victor was the one who could lie the loudest and the longest. The truth is unimportant in comparison to winning the seat of power.
Now there is nothing wrong with Christians rising to seats of power and using that power properly, but there is great danger for Christians to gain and use that power according to the world’s example. The sad fact is that power can and often does have a corrupting influence even on Christians. History is filled with examples of people being mistreated and abused by those who claimed to be Christians. That ought not to be because that is not the example Jesus left us. Jesus had all power available to him, yet His example is that of a gentle servant.
We need to keep in mind that legalism is a killer. It is a killer of God’s law, a killer of man’s spirit, and a killer of man being able to walk with God. Legalism is exchanging the rule of God for the rule of man and following man’s dictates rather than the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
We still have it around today and it manifests itself in its hypocritical nature just as it did back then. It is man’s self-righteous nature that proclaims, “I am good because I do not go to movie theaters,” but the truth is that the same movies are rented and watched on the VCR. “I am righteous because I don’t drink,” yet the same person is in such emotional turmoil they need drugs to keep themselves on an even keel and to sleep at night. “I am holy because I do not smoke,” yet the same person has such a strong addiction to caffeine that they are a bear until they get their first cup of coffee. Still another claims, “I am virtuous because I attend all the church meetings,” but the rest of their non-working time is spent in pursuit of being entertained. In reality, for them church is just part of the entertainment because they do not put into practice what is taught there. Legalism is dangerous!
Jesus would not bend to the legalism of His day. He proclaimed Himself Lord of the Sabbath which equated Himself with God and the Pharisees knew it. In Matthew 12:9-13, Jesus gave a positive demonstration that He was ruler over the Sabbath when He positively broke their legalistic traditions and demonstrated true compassion by healing the man with the withered hand. They should have rejoiced over the good thing done for this man, but instead they were angered that Jesus would not bow to their legalism.
Jesus would not submit Himself to the regulations of man that were against the Law of God. Instead of rejoicing, the Pharisees, the legalistic traditionalist, joined together with their normal enemies, the Herodians, who were the Jews that followed Greek/Roman culture and were political supporters of King Herod, and they plotted to put Jesus to death.
Someone who was seeking after worldly power would have used the advantage just won in the rebuke of the Pharisees to rally the support of the people and put an end to them. Instead we find that Jesus, aware of their plotting, withdraws from there. Jesus is not after the acclaim of the people and gaining the power the Pharisees held. He is interested in being:
1. a Merciful Servant
2. a Meek Servant
3. a Chosen Servant
4. a Quiet Servant
5. a Sympathetic Servant
6. an Unlimited Servant
7. a Loving Servant
Jesus is gentle as the LAMB and can never hurt a broken soul but HE is Mighty as a LION for He is unafraid to stand for God's Truth and uphold His Justice.
Friends we appreciate you reading His Word and feel encouraged by His TRUTH. There is no greater joy for us to know that we can share the Gospel with you. We ask for nothing from you but for your help in spreading HIS WORD so others may be encouraged. We are not a traditional church but your fellow sojourners who are passionate about Jesus Christ and His Word.
God bless you and your family. In HIS service, we remain.
Excerpts used from Charles Spurgeon's Sermons.