Mat 12:20 -- A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
THE Scriptures speak of bruised reeds as a metaphor for God's people; and for good reason. The word translated as bruised here, is also used in other places within the Word, and it is variously translated as: oppressed, broken, crush, crushed, discouraged, and struggling -- that sounds like all the lambs I know. How about you? Do you recognize yourself here? It sounds alot like my life -- some of them all of the time; and all of them some of the time. And what, my friends, of the reed? Let's talk of it, first of all, as a musical reed. When I was a boy, we used to cut-off reeds from out in the field, or along the creek bank, and turned them into flutes; you know, a reed, in any number of forms, can create a sweet, natural music that mingles and harmonizes with sounds of creation: the evening breeze rustling through the high grass on the uplands, or the murmerings of the pine; the rush of the incoming wave, or the subdued flow of the river; even the crickets of the field. But if the reed becomes bruised and broken, it loses its power to express the music within its soul.
Believers, in many ways, are just like these broken natural flutes. We have been so crushed, broken, and discouraged by the continuing barrages aimed at us; and a few, perhaps, of our own making; that we sometimes lose contact with the simple, sweet music of the Master's voice. When our souls are breathed upon by the breath of God they are like a splintered reed, and they give only a pitiful response. His breath wakes no high and pure note of faith or hope or love -- only the disjointed response of agony. The frost of this pain can crack our flute, and the freezing cares of a heart that feels itself to be unloveable, can chill the currents of the soul, and break its music. How can we sing the Lord’s song in the land of these strangers, in a climate, where our soul-instrument often becomes dispondent and mute?
And what is to be done with these bruised reeds? I will ask a larger question, what will the Lord do with these bruised flutes? Well, He will not break them and finish their destruction. He will not discard and abandon them. He will not fling them away. He will restore the bruised reed. He is the Physician of Broken Reeds, going about to restore the lost power of music and song? He can restore unto us the joy of His salvation. “I will seek again that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.”
But we may look again at the figure of the reed, and drop the idea of the musical reed, and regard it as just the swaying, pliable reed of the desert and field. Hear the words of our Lord. “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” The reed of the wilderness was used to describe a certain type and quality of life. The desert reed yielded before the wind; it was swayed, anyhow, any way, anywhere. It bent before the wind, from whatever quarter it blew, and became the type of frailty, fragility of the lambs; seemingly at the mercy of the beast, in a world run by wolves. It is not only a shaken, swaying, desert reed; but a “bruised reed,” broken on its stem and withering at the fracture as it struggles for life.
The worlders despise them, and count them as worthless, only fit to be thrown away and destroyed. But our Lord will not cast us away as a broken and useless creature of this passing world “He will not break the bruised reed.” He will, in fact, use the bruised reed as an iron pillar, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
We have a perfect example of our Lord's restoration process given to in the life of Simon Peter. Here is a man, who on that immortal night, was driven and deeply bruised by the winds of hatred, and driven to the ground by the guilt of his failure. But now listen, my friends, to what our risen Lord said to the women outside the tomb that morning. “Go, tell My disciples and Peter.” What is the significance of that wording: My disciples, and Peter? It is the Lord at work on the bruised reed. And what did He say to Peter when He saw him? Did He berate him?Did he disavow him? No: A bruised reed shall he not break. He said simply,“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?” It is the Lord at work on a broken heart, giving it the gracious opportunity of recovery and of once again expressing itself in adoration and service. Look further on in the Word. “When they saw the boldness of Peter.” At least 3000 were reached that day. Our Lord took a bruised reed, and by His touch, created a disciple faithful unto death.
Oh my friends, the Lord knows our struggles, He lived them too. He understands that we are strangers passing through an alien and hostile world. This is why He promised to walk with us, strengthen us, and restore us; and what He has promised, He will surely do.