A Bruised Reed, A Smoldering Candle

The Advent season is full of longing and hope for the Messiah. It’s no secret that Christ has already come and won salvation for the world, but we still posture ourselves to receive Him anew.

Isaiah speaks of the advent of the Messiah, in Isaiah 42:1-4, which reads, “Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth. In His teaching the islands will put their hope.”

There are so, so many treasures within these words, and one of those I wanted to look at today is verse 3: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice.”

Now, in the South they call reeds “cattails,” but I guess technically a reed is any tall grass that grows up out of the water. Can you imagine with me a broken reed, one that is wilted and torn? I bet it’s so easy to just snap it in two pieces right where it’s bent. It probably takes the same effort as it does to blow out the smoldering wick on a candle.

In this prophetic passage, perhaps you identify with that bruised reed. Maybe one more good snap feels like it will break you altogether. Or maybe you are barely hanging on, and one simple snuff will blow out your candle, crushing your spirits. If that’s the case, friend, then here’s the jewel in that verse: Christ is gentle and kind toward the broken. Where others may crush and deflate you, Jesus will allow you to lean against Him. He will soothe you and repair you.

I love that the Prophet acknowledges the theme of justice. Maybe the root of your brokenness is because you feel denied justice. Maybe you’ve been squarely wronged by a loved one, a colleague, a court of law, a natural disaster, a sickness… the list goes on. In the midst of brokenness, the truth is that Jesus enacts justice for the oppressed. Psalm 50:6 announces, “The heavens proclaim His righteousness, for He is a God of justice,” and Psalm 140:2 declares, “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Certainly—certainly—Advent is all about Jesus! But Jesus’ assignment, my friend, is you. He defends, He protects, He advocates, He loves, He shepherds you. Yes, He conquers His foes and breaks the curse of Satan, but to all those who are bowed low, repentant, broken, or marginalized, He is tender and near.

What a Messiah. What a Savior. What a dear, dear Friend.

May this be your happiest and holiest Christmas yet.

  • Josh, this is absolutely beautiful, and my spirit is saying, “Yessss! What he said!!” Thank you for bringing such a comforting, healing, hopeful message! Blessings on your study of the Word and your writing!

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