Skip to main content

Our Reaction To The Reed And The Flax

"A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory." - Matthew 12:20

The Church is often a very dangerous place to ask questions or demonstrate honest weaknesses.  The ministry of Christ was one where the frequent scene of spiritual education was a group of curious misfits gathered around the Master asking questions and processing answers.  Foolish or provoking questions were dispatched with wisdom while honest questions were received with love and answered directly.  Likewise, the drunkard, cheat and prostitute found in Christ a friend who would accept them as flawed while doing all that He could to draw them to a point of radical transformation.  Casting away the religiously self-righteous, Jesus of Nazareth bore the moniker of "a friend of sinners."

Fast forward to Christendom in the 21st century and we see that questions are often met as rebellion to authority and those with revealed flaws are viewed as cancerous tumors necessitating immediate removal to quell the risk of contagion.  In this way, we have fundamentally removed Christianity from Christendom.  True Christianity works in the order established by her namesake.  When the prophet Isaiah looked forward through the veil of time and was shown the coming Messiah, he spoke of His nature with poignant clarity: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:3).  

Jesus Christ was not a weak character.  His sermons were not the popular tripe of the modern neo-secular "Christian" pulpit.  His message was one delivered with power and authority; a message with a direct call to repentance and a clear view of the consequences of spiritual negligence.  At the same time, the message was appealing to the outcast, the downtrodden, the unwanted, the unloved, the unaccepted and the otherwise unworthy.  How could it be that the Christ of the New Testament would attract such a crowd with a message such as He did while the religious caste was, for the most part, repulsed?

Consider what Jesus was always criticized for.  Being a friend of sinners was no compliment.  Those who clung to Him as their Teacher and Master were mainly a ragtag bunch of undesirables.  Yet Christ was open to their questions, patient with their weaknesses and willing to heal their diseases and, ultimately, change their lives and their eternities.  For this, Jesus found Himself to be the object of the ire of those who felt themselves worthy to enter the Kingdom because they were children of Abraham.  No wonder they were so terribly vexed when Christ told them that seed for Abraham could be raised from among the stones if need be.  He slapped their heritage in the face and disregarded their longstanding and parentage as meaningless without personal relationship with the Divine.  

The bruised reed would not be broken by the Messiah according to Isaiah.  In short, that which has already been injured need not fear further injury at the hands of the Savior of mankind.  Those who have been bruised by tragedy, disappointment, rejection, fear, heartache, the normal and abnormal situations of life and even those who have been bruised as a result of the consequences of their own foolish actions can look to Jesus Christ as one who will not destroy them.  One need not fear the severity of the Righteous Judge until He brings forth judgment.  Today, God desires mercy and, in the arms of Christ, perfect love and forgiveness is demonstrated.  To sinner and saint alike, the grace of God remains perpetually abundant and accessible.

Are you bruised? Do you have weaknesses which you have not been able to overcome? Are there flaws in your character that you have yet to be able to defeat? Don't run from Christ.  Run to Him.  Let Him take you in His arms and receive you.  Be willing to trust Him and the work He shall do.  While it may feel like He is breaking you into a million pieces at times during the purifying process, trust the promise of His Word that a bruised reed He will not break.  

The smoking flax or, in other words, the wick of a lamp which is only faintly alive with an ember of former flame shall not be put out by the hand of the Messiah.  The fiery zeal of a new convert is often extinguished by the trimming process of time.  One will not live for Christ very long before they realize it is not all Sunday night shout-downs and Wednesday night prayer meetings.  There is some real living to do beyond the doors of the Sanctuary which bring us back to the reality of having to live our Christianity and not only experience it in the safety of an institution.  Before long, the flame has died to nothing more than a smoking flax.  

So, certainly, we cast the wick away! Oh no! Certainly not! If there is even a hint of possibility for renewal and restoration, Jesus Christ will find a way to bring it about.  No one is ever thrown away by Christ simply because the fire has died, questions have arisen, problems and situations have caused confusion or any other number of means by which the fervency of times past has been replaced by a coldness.  Rather, there is hope in the person of Jesus Christ for the smoking flax.  The one that everyone would throw away and give up on is the very one that the Lord looks at and says, "Come to me if you are weary and weighted down." 

Christendom has responded poorly to the reed and the flax because, truthfully, they require us to be Christians instead of "Church people."  We are uncomfortable when they walk into our Assemblies because we have forgotten how to relate.  Yet we will often respond better to a sinner than a Brother who has become the reed or the flax.  It is far easier to feign piety than to practice godliness.  Instead of restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness while considering ourselves lest we fall (Galatians 6:1) we criticize, critique, berate and, in every way, provide an uphill climb for our Brother.  How foolish can we be?

To the reed and the flax outside of the covenant of God we must extend a hand of mercy, understand, love, grace, straightforwardness, honesty, clarity and hope for the purpose of reconciling them unto God.  To our Brethren we must extend the exact same hand coupled with the realization that we will need our restored Brother to, one day, restore us when we fall.  A bruised reed Jesus will not break.  A smoking flax Jesus will not quench.  Oh to God that a Christlike spirit would abound in the Church today that we, as God's Children, would do the same.


Russell Smith said…
Great Article ... Looking forward to your postings
T Jones said…
Beautiful and so lost in our churches today it seems. If you aren't dressed to a "t" and have all the right words, you're not a part of the upper echelon. Jesus had no ech. He has Men of God and order, those called and chosen for specific duty but no upper & lower in quality in Him, no upper ech. Love this scripture for many years.
Anonymous said…
Awesome words Jason.

Popular posts from this blog

When Modesty Becomes Vanity

"There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filth. There is a generation - how haughty its eyes and pretentious its looks." - Proverbs 30:12-13 (HCSB)

Debates over modesty in dress have arisen at one time or another in almost every sect laying claim to a position within Christendom.  These have ranged from debates among European Roman Catholics in regard to whether it was acceptable for women to dress as men in order to escape being raped by passing Christian Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land to wage war against the Muslims to a late 19th century debate within Methodism as to whether lace on a Sunday bonnet was too ostentatious if worn in the buggy on the way to the Meeting House.

The subject of these debates has not always been women.  In fact, a cold war has raged among various sects of Anabaptists for hundreds of years on the subject of men's facial hair.  Some argue that only married men should have beards while others say bea…

How a Cube of Ice Melted My Heart

"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." - Mark 9:41 (KJV)

I was in a Mayan Indian village in the western area of the Toledo District of Belize at a fairly new preaching point that had been established by the native Pastor from Indianville near the coast.  About a dozen of us had jammed into my little Suzuki SUV to conduct a worship service in the thatched roof hut used normally as a home but, on special occasions, became a place of worship.  
The home was a traditional Mayan dwelling with thatched leaves for a roof, pimento sticks bound together for walls, low interior beams supporting the structure, dirt floors and no electricity.  The house was illuminated by glass bottles filled with kerosene suspended from the beams by rope with a small cloth wick alive with a dim, but dancing, flame.  
When we arrived, the family was busily putting rough wood benches in place and…

"And Jesus rebuked Thomas..." Or did He?

"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord,' but he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." - John 20:24-25

People who have never read the Bible are still familiar with the terminology, "Doubting Thomas."  This is because of the event outlined in John 20:24-29 and the stigma attached to the Apostle Thomas for his lack of faith after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But did you ever stop to consider that his lack of faith might have been reasonable?  Think of what this man had just been through.  We do not know exactly how long Thomas had been following Jesus but we can reasonably conclude that it was a period of at least a couple of years.  What remarkable things Thomas saw in that time!

Consider back in John 11 when news came of…