The Bruised Reed
Matthew 12:20
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment to victory.

According to his custom, St. Matthew here applies an ancient prophecy to Jesus Christ. The ideal that was never realized before now finds its fulfilment. It is one peculiarly appropriate to the character of Christ and to his saving mission.

I. CHRIST BRINGS GOOD TIDINGS TO THE FEEBLE AND FAILING. He comes as the Physician for the sick. He is the good Shepherd who leaves the safe flock of ninety and nine to seek the one lost sheep. He has little for the righteous, but much for the sinful. He was not the Friend of Pharisees, but the Friend of publicans and sinners.

1. This is contrary to the common customs of men. With us too often religion is for the religious. The good have more goodness offered to them, but the bad are left in their badness. This was the case with the old-world religions, which fed the devotion of the devout, but neglected the ruin of the impious. Christ and all who follow Christ bring the gospel to the lost.

2. This counteracts the stern processes of nature. In nature we witness the survival of the fittest. There the strong succeed and the weak fail, and the race is to the swift and the battle to the strong. Christ brings a more merciful principle to work upon men. The bruised and crushed and hopeless are the especial objects of his care.

II. THE SOURCE OF CHRIST'S ACTION IS PURE COMPASSION. There is no obligation to deal out mercy to the worthless. They who fail do not deserve to be helped merely on account of their failure. The bruised reed cannot entertain us with sweet music; it' it can emit any sounds at all, these must be of a rather painful character. The smoking wick has ceased to illumine the room; it is now an offensive object. Would it not be better to throw both of them away? No reason could be given for tenderness to those who have ceased to be of any use. to the community excepting pure compassion. But this was the very motive of our Lord's most frequent miracles. Again and again we read that "he was moved with compassion. The same wonderful love and sympathy prompted his whole life-work. It is now the great motive of the gospel. Therefore the work of Christ is characterized by tenderness. He does not drive; he leads. He does not merely command; he helps, uplifting, strengthening.

III. THE COMPASSIONATE MINISTRY OF CHRIST IS JUSTIFIED BY ITS RESULTS. A hard man of the world may be inclined to criticize our Lord's method as uneconomical. He may say that the same amount of energy spent on the young, the strong, the hopeful, would produce larger results. In reply it may be urged that Compassion does not weigh and measure and calculate, or she would cease to be Compassion; she gives freely, asking for no return. Nevertheless, there is a return. Christ's compassion is powerful. He mends the bruised reed and rekindles the smoking flax. Then the first result is the salvation of the helpless. But the process does not stay here. They who are thus redeemed are bound to their Saviour by the closest ties of gratitude. There is no love so tender and devoted as that of the Magdalene. The redeemed are living witnesses to the grace of Christ, and they are the most zealous in proclaiming it to others. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

WEB: He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a smoking flax, until he leads justice to victory.

Tenderness Toward the Outcast
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