Summary: Where we are quick to speak and quick to react, God’s ways puzzle us. Where we might be too proud and too quick to consider aggressively taking charge, God in His infinite wisdom demonstrates His loving mercy, humility, a
THE BRUISED AND DIM
Text: Isaiah 42: 1 - 7
Someone (Dr. Thomas Long) reiterates how this passage of scripture illustrates who God is as someone who will neither break a bruised reed, nor quench a dimly burning wick but will bring justice. Beside these metaphors of compassion to those are weak and vulnerable he adds how most of us have in our “heart of hearts a quarrel with God” …. we are puzzled by how God chooses to behave in the world by what He chooses to do and how He chooses to do it”. (Gary W. Klingsporn. ed. The library of Distinctive Sermons. Volume 5. Dr. Thomas G. Long. “Bruised Reeds And Dimly Burning Wicks” . 1997, pp. 19 – 20). Where we are quick to speak and quick to react, God’s ways puzzle us. Where we might be too proud and too quick to consider aggressively taking charge, God in His infinite wisdom demonstrates His loving mercy, humility, and compassion in all His ways. His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Matthew Henry pointed out that God in His “Infinite wisdom made the choice [of the servant] and then avowed [affirmed] it”. (Matthew Henry. A Commentary On The Whole Bible. Volume 4. Iowa Falls: Iowa, no date. p. 227). Only God in His infinite wisdom could absolutely see where things had gone astray from His will. Only God could see absolutely where His chosen people had succeeded and failed and why. Only God could absolutely see how his chosen people had missed opportunities to be a light to other nations (Isaiah 42:6) because of how they took control instead of letting God be in control! When the chosen nation---chosen people failed to be the light to other nations that God intended, God sent His only begotten Son to be the light! That is why Jesus cannot fail or be discouraged (Isaiah 4:6).
THE CHOSEN SERVANT
We are wayward sheep. 1) Wayward sheep: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). 2) Our waywardness: We are no different than our spiritual ancestors we read about in the Bible. 3) The universal disqualifying factor: God had carved out their path---their race that He had set before them (Hebrews 12:1) but they disqualified themselves by getting “off track”. When they got “ off track” they could not succeed in doing the good works that God prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). How often have we disqualified ourselves because of how we have gotten “off track?”
Wayward sheep need a shepherd. 1) The Shepherd Priest: That is why Jesus came to us. He came not only to be our shepherd, He also came to be the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus came to be our priest as well as our sacrificial lamb to make us right with God! 2) The Shepherd’s help: Without the help of Jesus, we are slaves to the guilt our sin. A slave has no permanent place in the family (John 8:35). Without the help of Jesus we are held captive by the destructive power of sin. Jesus came not only to forgive us of our sins but to remove the power of sin and its guilt!
Jesus---the Good Shepherd helps the sheep to get back on track. 1) Band-Aids will not do: How many times have we gotten injured and “bruised” in our spirits when we got off track? Are we not all “bruised reeds and smoldering wicks?” We get “bruised” by our sin; we get bruised by life’s heartaches and heartbreak; we get by natural disasters; we get bruised by illness and losing our loved ones. 2) The Savior’s nurture: Compared to trees, reeds are fragile (like tooth picks) and easily broken. Jesus helps us, forgives us, heals us and nurtures us. As Martin Luther once put it, ‘He does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.’ (Albert Barnes. Barnes’ Notes). Jesus knows our every weakness and vulnerability.
Jesus rekindles our hopes and nurtures our weakened faith back to health. 1) The faint-hearted: As smoldering wick is symbolic of someone who is losing heart (Albert Barnes). 2) Help for the faint-hearted: William Barclay once said that there are three things that are necessary for a happy life which are “Something to hope for. Something to do. Someone to love.” (Denis Duncan. ed. Day By Day With William Barclay. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003, p. 1). Jesus restores our hope because he heals us, forgives us reconciles us and renews our purpose and our joy. William Barclay also said that Jesus “… did not come to treat the weak with contempt, but with understanding; he did not come to extinguish the weak flame, but to nurse it back to a clearer and a stronger light. (William Barclay. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel Of Matthew. Revised Edition. Volume 2. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, p. 34). Without Jesus the bruised reeds would eventually break and the smoldering wicks would go from dim to dark and die!