In this week's message, Pastor Dennis Walton reminds us that we are all imperfect Christians. We have failed God in a multitude of ways, but He will not break a bruised reed. He will restore us and make us stronger than we were before, equipped for our calling in life!
God Will Not Break a Bruised Reed
'So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”'
This “enmity” placed between man and serpent sets us at odds with one another. This is literal, in the sense that man and serpents typically don’t occupy the same space - we tend to want to eradicate them from where we are. But there is also the Messianic element to this, it is a prophecy of Jesus who would one day defeat evil once and for all.
When Jesus was at the whipping post, being mercilessly beaten, in a sense it was satan “bruising His heel.” The injury was temporary. When Jesus rose from the dead, it dealt a blow to satan’s head. Death and sin was forever defeated!
What is a bruise? It is a physical sign of past pain. Sometimes you might get a bruise and not remember how it happened, but generally you do remember exactly what you did that earned you that mark. Satan has “bruised” every single man throughout all of history with temptation and our lives bear the signs of our injury because we have to constantly deal with the consequences of our past mistakes.
Our bruises, however, are also constant reminders of how much we need Jesus in our lives to heal us and to restore us. God began to reveal the mystery of His plan of salvation through Jesus to the prophet Isaiah.
'“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.'
What is a reed? It’s a hollow-centered plant, sort of like a huge grass. It could be used for various purposes, but it was very weak. A bruised reed is an even more weakened form of an already weak plant. Human beings are innately weak - we are susceptible to sickness, failure, fatigue, death. And, as we have already established, we are all bruised. But Jesus will not break a bruised reed. The devil will bruise us, but, through the power of God, we will bruise him back! And then God will heal our bruises and restore our strength.
Flax was a plant that would be used to make linen, after being soaked, separated and dried out. Flax was also used for wicks in oil lamps. If you’ve ever used an oil lamp, you know that the wick will not smoke unless you allow it to run out of oil. We are called to be the light of the world, but we cannot produce any light by our own merit. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to shine the light of the gospel! At times, though, we are just out of oil, we are spent, and we don’t have any fight left in us. But God will fill us back up with oil - if we are smoking and burning out, that’s evidence that the fire is still lit within us. God will refill the oil, blow on us with His breath and use His Spirit to reignite our flame!
God restores us, no matter how bruised we become. We are all prodigal sons who God gladly welcomes home. The world may treat us, sometimes, like the prodigal son’s brother and wish to break us when we’re bruised, but God never will. The Holy Spirit restores, heals, forgives.
'And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”'
The important part in this set of verses is when Jesus says “when you fail…” Jesus already knew Peter would fail Him. Jesus doesn’t leave it there, though, “...and when you return to me… strengthen your brethren.” God was not going to give up on Peter because of his denial, He already had plans for him the moment it was over! He had plans to restore Peter and give him an even greater anointing!