Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant…
3 …a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
The word “behold” directs us to us to see the glory of Christ in Isaiah’s prophetic description of how Jesus treats reeds and wicks. A ‘bruised reed’ is a blade of tall grass whose shaft, for one reason or another, has been crushed. A ‘smoldering wick’ is the weakly burning linen cord of an oil lamp about to be extinguished. It’s a word picture.
Christ’s saving work concerns much more than grass and oil lamps. We know this prophecy of Isaiah is about Christ's care for broken people because immediately after recording Christ's healing of a man with a withered hand, Matthew remembers this prophecy:
“…a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory…”(Matthew 12:20).
Christ has come into the world of people bruised to the breaking point and smoldering to the brink of extinction. His mission is to set at liberty those who are ‘captive’ or ‘bruised’ (Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah). He has come to set free those who have been ‘crushed’ by the activity of demons (Luke 9:39). He has come to seek and save sinners like you and me.
There is great mercy here. You, who are crushed with affliction, hope in Jesus. You, who are smoldering in faith, look to Jesus. As J.C. Rile observes,
“…we may be sure that “bruised reeds” and “smoldering wicks” are very precious in our Lord’s eyes.”
You, whose repentance is wavering, you whose faith ebbs with doubts, you whose hope teeters on despair, you whose fears seem overwhelming —lift your eyes to behold Jesus. He will not break you. He will not snuff you out.
By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us 'bruised reeds' and 'smoldering wicks'.