ESV - 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.
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In these verses, Matthew's gospel is citing Isaiah 42:1-4, which was a prophecy of the ministry of the promised Messiah. In particular, I would say that Matthew appears to regard Isaiah's prophecy as having been fulfilled by the broad, but "low-key", manner in which Jesus went about his healing activities. He healed all those who came to Him, but at the same time did not publicize what He was doing, and even ordered those whom He had healed not to tell others about His healing ability (Matthew 12:15-16). Jesus took this approach (in my opinion) so that His accessibility to people who placed their faith in Him -- even if that faith were (as He put it) only the size of a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), or (in the words of Isaiah) as delicate as a bruised reed or a smoldering wick -- would not be hindered as a result of Him always being surrounded by others, or being otherwise unapproachable, because of having acquired "celebrity" status. This accessibility would allow Jesus not only to perform acts of physical healing, but (much more importantly) to reach as many people as possible with spiritual healing through the gospel message, which would be fully realized in His forthcoming death and resurrection, and would represent His satisfaction of God's justice, and the assurance of the ultimate defeat of sin and evil. He also did it so that He would not become known among the people primarily as a worker of miracles or a supplier of physical needs, but for the unique and vitally more important spiritual insights and mission that only He could provide and accomplish as true God in human flesh. (Such diversion from His primary mission was the point of Satan's temptations of Him to turn stone into bread and to throw Himself off the top of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), both of which Jesus rejected by quoting Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3 and Deuteronomy 6:16).)
There's this book, entitled "The Bruise Reed" by Richard Sibbe. You should read it. It is a book that will strengthen you when we think we have failed as God's children. "The Bruise reed he will not break, the smoking flax he will not quench" is talking about God's grace, about the heart of our Saviour. The Bruise Reed is talking about although we are believers, we're still not perfect; we still have brokenness and flaws that need to be dealt with. Although we fail so many times, His grace is always there. When He disciplines us, He convicts us, He won't break us. The smoking flax is talking about our flesh. Even though we have Holy Spirit in us (Holy Spirit always portrayed as fire), God's Spirit Himself living in us, sometimes our flesh still wins. At the time flesh winning the fire is not a flame, but smoke. But, if there's smoke, that still indicates that there is fire inside. Even though we're not flaming with Holy Spirit, even though the evidence of Holy Spirit in us is only a smoke, He still will not quench. He will still faithful, bringing us through, because He who started the good work in us will Himself finish it! How Great is our God!
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