TO CHEW ON: "A bruised reed He will not break
And smoking flax He will not quench." Isaiah 42:3
It is Sabbath. Jesus enters the synagogue in Galilee, and it is as if the Pharisees have been lying in wait for just this moment. Almost immediately they approach Jesus with a man in tow — a man with his right hand skinny as a bird claw and clenched against his chest.
Look at their eager eyes. They have the net, now to haul in the catch!
Their spokesman parks the man right in front of Jesus and asks, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
The challenge in his voice together with his station and authority are enough to cow anyone, and Jesus' companions hold their collective breaths. What will their Rabbi say to this?
He answers with His usual thoughtful wisdom and clever turning of the question back on them: "What man is there among you who has one sheep and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
And then, with a Creator's compassion for a bit of His broken creation, He heals the man's hand.
The Pharisees leave the crowd that has gathered, humiliated and incensed and plotting "how they might destroy Him."
Jesus quietly gets out of town. When the multitudes find Him, He "heals them all," but also warns them not to make Him known...
All of which proves, says Matthew, the teller of this story that Jesus is the one Isaiah spoke of when he said (and he quotes the first part of today's reading verbatim):
"Behold! My servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
....A bruised reed he will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench..." Matthew 12:18-21.
The story of Jesus healing the man with the withered hand seems the perfect illustration of "a bruised reed He will not break..."
How often we too are bruised reeds, damaged, hurt and paralyzed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Or we're smoking flax with just a spark of fire left in us. How wonderful it is to know that Jesus understands and deals with us gently and justly ("He will bring forth justice for truth - Isaiah 42:3) and successfully ("He will not fail nor be discouraged" - Isaiah 42:4).
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for being the example of compassionate servanthood. I need such treatment from You, and pray for Your Spirit's reminder to me to be compassionate and gentle when dealing with the hurt and almost extinguished people around me. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.