“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out….” (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)
What does the Lord mean by these strange, prophetic descriptions of Jesus?
In the ancient world, a reed might be used to make a pen to write striking poetry, witty prose, or create beautiful art. Or a reed could be fashioned into a flute for beautiful music. A bruised reed – one that has been bent – is good for nothing but the trash bin.
In the ancient world, homes were often dark and windowless. To light their homes families used lamps filled with olive oil. It was important to keep the wick trimmed, though. If the wick was left unattended, the lamp might fill the house with smoke. If the lamp got to this point, the only choice was to snuff it out.
In this passage, the Lord is describing Jesus. But he’s also talking about us. We are those bruised reeds. We were created for beauty – poetry, prose, artwork. But someone didn’t care for us. We got stepped on and dropped. We were bruised and bent (by the way, one of the NT words for sin is “crooked”). We bruised reeds are good for nothing, perhaps, but the trash bin…except for Jesus. We may be bent, but he will not break us. He accepts us as is.
Likewise, in our sinfulness, we’ve created a mess. We’ve filled our homes with smoke and ash and soot. It might be better for someone to take us outside and leave us…except for Jesus. We may be a mess, but he won’t snuff us out. He accepts us as is.
And as great as that news of God’s acceptance is, there’s even better news than that. He accepts us, yes, but he also redeems and heals us. He loves us too much to leave us bruised and smoldering. I hope you sense that love today.