He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.Matthew 12:20
Jesus came to fulfill what Isaiah had written about centuries before. Isaiah writes about a ‘bruised reed.’ The English word ‘bruised’ doesn’t really convey the meaning. The word ‘bruise’ is a weak word because we experience bruises all the time. Sure, they hurt, but they do heal on their own.
In Hebrew the word we translate into English as “bruise” is a word that means crushed. It implies a deep contusion. This is an internal break whereby an organ has been injured or destroyed. You may not see it on the surface like our understanding of bruises. Rather, this injury is deep. One is bruised, i.e., injured to the point of death.
So too the smoldering wick. If one blows out or better puts out the candles here on the altar, or the fancy Yankee candles we have at home, there is always that period of smoldering. We see the light as dying, going out and away into nothingness. There is that brief moment where we might think, will the candle reignite or go out, but we do not often wait and see. Most times it goes out if is not fanned back to life. A smoldering wick, like the bruised, is a step away from death.
We are those bruised reeds and smoldering wicks Isaiah prophesied about. We are a people broken inside, subject to death. We can easily go out if not fanned back to life. We cannot produce anything of value because of our brokenness, our lack of fire.
Jesus’ treatment of the bruised reed and smoldering wick, that is us, is not as simple as His being kind and compassionate to us in our weak state, the state of a suffering person desperate for hope. It is deeper than that. It is not just about tenderness or compassion toward a crushed spirit or wounded soul.
Rather, it is about a God Who is our true Father. He would not come to us to destroy us, to enact a final break of the bruise or a quenching of the flame. He will not bring death, but rather brings us life, healing the bruise, reigniting the light – and for more than just being kind – for a purpose.
God saw us as we are, broken and near death by our sins, and sent Jesus Who did something about it.
More than for mere kindness and compassion, Jesus was sent exactly to heal the bruise in us so we might not die but live. Jesus was sent to reignite us into a bright flame. He heals us so that we are no longer bruised and subject to death. He takes away our brokenness and our lack of fire. He did that exact thing on the cross.
Jesus’ purpose – was to bring us into His Kingdom as willing citizens, restored and free. Jesus’ purpose was to ignite us with a passion like unto His – for the saving of souls, so many might enter the kingdom of God because of our presence, words, and work.
As we journey through this Lenten season we will focus on aspects of our brokenness and what is smoldering within us. We will see how Jesus takes the broken and the smoldering away and heals us, ignites us, such that we may bear great witness. So that we might fulfill His purpose. We will look to examples of where Jesus did that in the lives of the great saints and how we too can be like them.
Jesus Christ came to us because His Father resolved to heal and restore the brokenness of the human condition. God loves us beyond our hopelessness and fragility. He loves us beyond our bruises and our smoldering wicks. He resolved to take on our humanity so to heal it. He faced our beatenness, batteredness, and bruises, our dying fire, so that we might enter the Kingdom He established where there are no more bruises or smoldering wicks. Where His people call others to know, love, and serve Him.
So we begin our Lenten journey together. As we do, let us offer up our bruised state, our weak light, and all Jesus to mould us to His purposes. Doing so we may truly rejoice at Easter and forever.