Translations: Chinese GB Big5

A Bruised Reed

Isaiah 42:1-4
"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 law the islands will put their hope."


Who is the "servant" Isaiah speaks of? Is it Israel? The New Testament referring to these verses identifies the servant as Jesus Christ.
Matt 12: 15-17 Many followed him, and he healed all their sick,  warning them not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: [Isaiah 42:1-4]
Such facts are somewhat hidden in the Old Testament with its allegorical ways of saying things.

If we are to walk as Jesus did how do these verses apply to us?

First we must be a servant. That is to walk in subservience to the Lord.

"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does." John 5:19,20

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15

Secondly to be directed by the Spirit.
 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

And then there's the mission itself
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 17:18
As Jesus' long term mission brings justice to the nations, so we are called to bring justification to the nations bringing the message of the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.


But what does it mean and what is the application of the idea of not shouting or raising our voices in the streets? It's not as if Jesus hadn't raised his voice at times,
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37,38

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" John 11:43

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, <"Eloi, Eloi, lama> <sabachthani?"> Matthew 27:46

Nor is it as if Jesus never offended people when he spoke. For he often spoke in a derogatory manner.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead menís bones and all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27
Even using inflamatory speech
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathersí guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Matthew 23:32,33
Thus if we are to understand the verse in Isaiah, we have to make sure not to contradict how it actually applies to Jesus Christ.

Could it refer to Jesus' general style of argument. For he would often answer a question with a question or with a parable, though the content of which was often derogatory. We see however in his apostle Paul who claimed to be following the Lord's example that he was involved in arguments and disputes.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. Acts 19:8

And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. Acts 9:29

But did Jesus even get so outraged as to turn to violence? We'll actually that could understandably be the impression of his actions in the temple area.
When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changersí money and overturned the tables. John 2:15
So what does it mean that He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets? I think the answer is given if we go back to the Matthew 12 passage in which Matthew actually applies this verse. Here is the context:
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
The first application is to withdraw from those who vehemently refuse to listen. Dialog with people to the degree to which they are open to listening and discussion, as Paul also practiced. But I would say if they rejected you to the point where they're now trying to kill you then it's probably a good guess that they are no longer listening to you. In such a case perhaps we are to withdraw from them as Jesus did. As you're trying to communicate truth there is often a point where you discern they are no longer listening. Well what good is it to say more if they are no longer listening. Even Jesus commanded "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." Matthew 10:14 It's unfortunate that this kind of thing occurs not only in preaching the gospel to outsiders, but even in discipling insiders.

Secondly is to withdraw from fame and popularity. In fact at times it seems Jesus said things just to make himself unpopular. "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." John 6:66 Neither individual Christians nor Christian Institutions should seek to make a name for themselves or to become popular in a worldly sense. Rather we should glorify the Lord and make a name for Him. Even Jesus purges his popularity at times - in this case telling others not to tell who he was - for His time had not yet come. But now it has come. But we should beware if we or our institution becomes popular. At times one should consider how to purge one's popularity. Or perhaps God will do it Himself.

So on the one hand we are called to associated primarily with those who listen to us. But on the other hand we need to keep our motives in check so as not to be motivated out of fame and popularity.

A Bruise Reed He Will Not Break

We see this in Jesus ministry reflected for example in his statement, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."Mark 2:17 He associated himself primarily with the spiritually sick - not to mention the physically sick. But understand the context that he is not talking about everyone who is spiritually sick. For certainly the Scribes and Pharisees - those reckoned outwardly righteous - were arguably just as spiritually sick as the "sinners" and tax collectors who were despised as overt sinners.

He also had a ministry to the "righteous", but it was characteristically different than to the "bruised reeds" and "dimily burning wicks." For example to the adulterous woman of John 8 brought to him for judgment. He didn't stone her to death as the Law of Moses required, but he did tell her not to sin anymore. He provided time for her to repent. This is instructive when we consider the misapplication of the principle of mercy and grace. For if Jesus had done the same thing today, many would consider that just his remark to not sin anymore would have itself been taken as stone throwing.

It is instructive not to be too harsh on the "almost Christians" Though the gospel calls them to repent, not only in faith but in behavior, yet they don't have the innate power as those born of God have to overcome sin. Nor have they the spritual insight of the mature spiritual man with which to recognize degrees of good and evil; truth and falseness.

He will Not be Discouraged

Not to say that he won't be frustrated. Matthew 17:17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" But he will persist in his ministry. Therefore "consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3  If a Christian reckons themselves to be followers of Christ then they shouldn't throw in the towel when it comes to the mission.

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