Lesson 26: A Bruised Reed He Shall Not Break (Matthew 12:15-21)Related Media
I. Intro and Recap:
a. Chapter 12 shows us the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.
b. The entire chapter is a conversation between the antagonistic Pharisees and Jesus.
i. “He said to them…He said to them…He said to them…He answered them…”
c. Matthew is comparing and contrasting the differences between Jesus and the Pharisees.
d. In light of Matthews’s method, I want to follow suit and show the differences between the Pharisees and Jesus.
e. I thought I would pick up from last week where we left off. Where Jesus invites all people to come to Him and find rest in Him.
i. It’s an open invitation for all who are poor in spirit. “To learn from Him. He is gentle and lowly of heart.”
f. This morning, I want us to do just that. I want us to learn from Jesus. In what way is He gentle and lowly of heart.
i. Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”
ii. There is tremendous instruction, encouragement, and application here. Especially as we consider what lies ahead for us as an assembly of believers in the near future with going to two locations.
g. Next week, we will look at the Pharisees and their sheer hypocrisy. But this week I wanted to just focus in on Jesus. Remember, the context of the chapter is contrasting of the Pharisees and Jesus.
h. The passage I want to dial in on is Mat. 12:15-21. It’s a quotation from the prophet Isaiah.
i. The immediate context:
i. Jesus just gets done teaching the Pharisees that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, “I tell you something greater than the Temple is here.”
ii. Then he heals a man who has a withered hand on the Sabbath.
iii. These two things combined were enough to flip the Pharisees out of orbit.
iv. They now conspire against him V. 14. Conspire to kill Him.
1. The act that makes them want to kill Jesus is that He healed on the Sabbath.
v. As a result of this hostility, Jesus withdraws and goes away.
vi. Mathew picks this up in verse 15.
j. Jesus is different from the Pharisees.
i. Matthew is deliberately showing the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees.
ii. The differences:
1. The Pharisee cared about externals. Jesus cares about internals—the heart.
2. The Pharisees were public and wanted attention for their deeds. Jesus retreats, and tells people to keep quiet.
3. The Pharisees were merciless, and created all kinds of extra rules for people. Jesus merciful and offers rest for the soul.
4. The Pharisees yoke is heavy and burdensome. Jesus yoke is easy and light.
5. The Pharisees are conspiring how to kill; Jesus is conspiring how to save.
6. The Pharisees are plotting how to bring injustice; Jesus is bringing justice.
k. Matthew is showing us that Jesus was the Perfect Servant. He was God’s choicest pick. He was Heaven’s Best. And He was totally not what they were expecting.
II. The Perfect Servant was Predicted (12:17).
a. This is the 9th time Matthew has quoted the Old Testament.
i. This also happens to be the longest quote.
ii. In every single one of these OT quotes, Matthew is proving something. That Jesus was predicted.
iii. He is the Predicted Prophesied Messiah.
iv. He is the One we’ve been waiting for, as the song goes.
b. Why did this matter? It matters for a couple reasons…
i. Matthew is showing that this gospel is entirely based on the Word of God.
1. God, through the mouth of the prophets foretold what kind of Messiah God would bring.
2. He would be humble. He would be gentile. He would bring justice and hope to the Gentiles.
3. All of these things were exactly true.
ii. Matthew is connecting Jesus to the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah.
1. Isaiah has four prophesies about the coming Messiah and he prophesies that the Messiah will be a God’s chosen servant, but He will be a suffering servant.
2. He will be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.
iii. The fact that Jesus was predicted also mattered in the sense that we no long need to look for a different Messiah. The Messiah has come. And the same Messiah is coming back.
1. The entire Jewish system today is around because they are looking for a different Messiah. Even if some thing it’s not an actual person, they are all in agreement that it’s NOT Jesus.
2. But Matthew, the Jew, and the Apostle of Jesus is deliberately saying this IS the Messiah. This Perfect Servant was predicted.
III. The Perfect Servant is Choice (12:18).
a. “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen.”
i. That’s the point of this message, and that’s the point of the Bible, and that’s the point of your life.
ii. Behold the Servant Whom God has chosen. The Lord God who has served you.
iii. It’s as though God, through the prophet Isaiah, then through the apostle Matthew, is getting our attention and saying, “Behold everyone. May I have your attention. Please look with Me. Please gaze with Me. Please admire with Me, my Chosen Servant. My Son.”
b. “my servant whom I have chosen”
i. He is the chosen one. He is choice. Precious.
ii. This Servant is loved by God (Heb., “my chosen one”).
iii. He is the delight of the Lord.
iv. “In this we may see the sweet love of God to us, in that he counts the work of our salvation by Christ his greatest service, and in that he will put his only beloved Son to that service.” Sibbes, Richard. The Bruised Reed
v. I’ll never forget shopping for a ring for Lonnalee before we were engaged.
1. I remember when I decided I wanted to marry Lonnalee and got the thumbs up from Mr. Bartlett. I started researching rings. It was a high learning curve as I had no idea about such things.
a. The irony, later on, is that Lonnalee didn’t really even want a diamond ring, but that’s a whole different story. It didn’t matter, I was excited to surprise her with the best I could do.
2. The whole system seemed like a racket to me.
3. As I travelled around to different jewlers and quickly learned about the 4 C’s.
a. Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color.
b. If you sacrifice on the quality of any of the four C’s, the price comes down.
c. The better each of the 4 C’s, the more choice the diamond. The more choice the diamond, the more expensive it is.
4. I will never forget talking to a jeweler about rings and I lamented the cost of such a tiny little rock. I made mention that the fake Cubic zirconium looked more and more like a good option. Joking of course.
5. Then he looked at me straight in the eyes, and said, “It happened…A man came in here about a year ago and really nice band, and then later put in a cubic zirconium…a year later his wife came in to get her ring cleaned and I had to tell her she had a fake ring.
a. “Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.”
6. He didn’t give his wife a “choice” diamond, he gave her an imposter.
c. “my beloved, with whom I am well pleased”
i. Jesus is the beloved of God.
ii. Jesus is not only choice. He is God’s delight.
iii. “With whom I am well pleased.”
1. At His Baptism…Mat. 3:16-17, “…the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
2. At the Transfiguration…Mat. 17:5, He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
3. Jesus is the apple of the Father’s eye.
4. “This is a significant connection, God’s love and his choice are never separated. In fact, they are almost synonymous.”
iv. The Father, out of infinite love, consistently points people to His Son.
v. This is what we do at the Lord’s Supper:
1. We behold Christ.
2. We enjoy Christ.
3. We dine with Christ and we fellowship with Christ.
4. We thank Him and we delight in Him.
5. We want less sharing and more delighting.
6. Less horizontal and more vertical.
d. Could you say the same about Jesus?
i. Is He well pleasing to you?
ii. Is He choice, to you?
iii. Is He worthy of your adoration and attention?
iv. Is He worthy of beholding?
v. Do you delight in Him?
vi. Does He fascinate you?
e. Jesus is Heaven’s Best.
i. Like a perfect diamond, the more you examine Him and study Him, the more spectacular He becomes.
1. Unlike biographies, the more you learn about a person, the more you dig in, the more you find out, you discover failures, oversights, fatal flaws.
a. You read Spurgeon—he smoked.
b. You read Luther—was a wee-bit anti-semetic.
c. You read Wesley—he was a horrible husband.
d. You read Strauch—he was an alcoholic. (jk)
2. Not with Jesus. The more you behold Him the more well-pleasing He is.
3. Even the Father, who is infinitely wise and infinitely discerning, and Infinitely Holy, says that He enjoys beholding His Son. His choice servant is well pleasing to Him.
4. He enjoys His submission and His obedience and His humility.
5. The Father delights in the Son.
6. Don’t take my word for it. Take God’s word for it! Jesus is Choice.
ii. He is excellent at everything He does.
iii. He is excellent as a King.
iv. He is excellent as a Savior.
v. He is excellent as a High Priest.
vi. He is excellent as a Servant.
vii. He is excellent when He loves.
viii. He is excellent when He forgives.
ix. He is excellent when He restores.
x. He is excellent when He rebukes sin and evil and wickedness.
xi. He is excellent as a Judge.
xii. He is perfect in holiness.
xiii. He is perfectly in humility.
xiv. He is inexhaustible in all of these attributes and descriptions.
xv. “Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths. How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hid in the deep recesses of the ocean caves! But there are unsearchable riches in Christ. Seek more of them. The Lord enrich you with them. I have always thought it a very pitiful show when great people ornament themselves with brilliants and diamonds; but it is truest wisdom to adorn the soul with Christ and His graces.” - Robert M'Cheyne
IV. The Perfect Servant Saves (12:18b, 20).
a. V. 18 says that the Father put His spirit upon Him.
i. This happened at His baptism.
ii. His divine nature was eternally one with the Spirit, but a special impartation came upon His human nature.
iii. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor!
iv. Luke 4:18-19, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
b. He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
i. His death and resurrection made it possible for God to be just and the Justifier of those who trust in Christ for salvation.
ii. We proclaim the justice of God in the cross.
iii. The Perfect Servant saves! And He does it through the justice of the cross!
c. And it’s for all the earth! Jews and Gentiles.
i. God plan has always included Jews and Gentiles.
ii. When God made a covenant with Abraham it was to be for “all of the families of the earth.”
iii. Israel was to be a light to the nations. A light to the Gentiles.
1. But they didn’t and they weren’t.
iv. Jesus comes along, and is fulfilling God’s covenant with Abraham and He reaches out to the Gentiles.
d. Matthew reminds us that Jesus has come to bring justice and to save.
i. 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
V. The Perfect Servant is Humble (12:19).
a. “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, no one will hear His voice in the streets.”
i. “Quarrel” means to hassle, wrangle, brawl.
ii. “Cry aloud” means shout or scream like a madman. Like a dog barking.
iii. In other words He didn’t intimidate people, unlike the Pharisees.
iv. He humbly proclaimed the truth.
b. Isaiah is emphasizing the humility of the Messiah.
i. He doesn’t stir up the crowds with rhetoric.
ii. No, He willingly endures the evil accusations.
iii. He will ultimately endure a cross.
iv. 1 Pet. 2:23-24, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
c. Jesus modeled humility.
i. Unlike the Pharisees, He is humble and lowly.
1. He is totally different than the worlds leaders. He is totally different from the Pharisees.
2. He avoids the fanfare and publicity that you might expect from a Messiah.
3. He will ride into Jerusalem, not on a horse, but on a donkey.
4. This King is totally different from other kings.
5. This King came not to be served, but to serve, and offer up His life as a ransom for many people.
6. He quietly does His work, while the others make noise.
ii. He invites us to learn humility from Him.
1. Mat. 11:29, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…”
a. “Be like me.” “Imitate me.”
2. Phil. 2:3-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
d. Jesus taught humility:
i. There was never someone so overqualified to teach on humility than Jesus.
ii. Jesus models this in John 13 when He takes up the towel:
1. John 13:4-15, “…rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…
2. When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
e. Application for us as an assembly.
i. As you know, we are embarking on the single biggest move as an assembly since it’s start, 50 years ago. The elders have prayerfully casted a vision of growth through the multiplication of churches. We see church planting as the normal means of and result of the Great Commission. And we are excited about this.
ii. This fall, we will start with another location. Initially we will remain one assembly-two locations. We have called it a multi-site, but really it’s a green house for a church plant. It’s a slow motion church plant.
iii. As elders, we have been overwhelmed with your response. Virtually everyone is excited. Particularly those looking to serve. This has opened up a vast chasim, and it’s been awesome to see people begin to fill the gaps and put their shoulder to the plow.
f. However, at the same time, almost everyone has anxiety in one way or another.
i. If you are one of the ones going, you may have experienced some different emotions:
1. There might be anxiety about who is going, and will we have enough people to serve in the Sunday school, as greeters, as deacons, as elders. Will we have enough resources? Will the building be ready? When will it be ready? Will people help give and serve? What will we do when we become independent? Do I want to be a part of a different church? Do I want that for my kids, etc.?
ii. If you are staying you may have different emotions.
1. First off, it may feel like this vision is being imposed on you. Change is hard, especially when it’s imposed on you. It’s easier to go, in that sense, because it’s your decision.
2. So maybe you don’t want people to go! The thought of seeing some leave, even if it’s for the mission field, is hard. Some of them going are your kids or grandkids. Or in my case, my parents and my brother and his family are going. And most of my in-laws. (It’s hard not to take it personal---jk!)
3. It reminds me of how the disciples were called. It was a call to prioritize Christ above all other relationships.
4. There may be anxiety on needs that will arise here. Will we have enough musicians? Will we have enough pastoral coverage? Will we have enough resources when we decide to go independent?
5. What will the Sunday School be like?
iii. To make a long story short, if you are invested in LBC, than most likely the emotions are high.
1. I want to apply Matthew 12 to us.
2. We need a clarion call to learn from Jesus here.
iv. One of the major threats to our assembly as we grow and as we multiply have to do with improper attitudes and selfishness.
1. Multiplying can easily turn into a resource grab.
a. One brother who had some changes in his business told me recently how in his business, when resources were divided up and people went their separate ways, there was a “resource grab.”
i. “How come they got that?! I didn’t get that!”
ii. Sort of like an Easter egg hunt. Every man scavenging for themselves.
b. Or fleshly attitudes of rivalry. Like a High School that outgrows it’s facility, and the new high school is formed just a few miles away.
i. Usually those high schools become bitter rivals, not best friends.
ii. But my brothers and sisters, we are not rivals. We are brothers and sisters on a common goal to make Jesus known!
iii. We desperately need to be committed to one another.
iv. We desperately need to imitate our Lord, who counted his own needs as nothing!
v. It’s human nature to look out for oneself and “cry aloud in the streets” to use Isaiah’s words.
v. To say it positively, what attitudes should we have as we move forward with two locations, then a church plant? Then church plants. What relevant lesson can we learn from the description of Jesus here in this passage?
1. We need an attitude of generosity.
a. The Lord was generous when He gave us His Son.
b. I’m not just talking about giving money to help churches, I’m talking about giving gifted people.
c. Both locations need to be generous with each other.
2. We need at attitude of service.
a. We need to commit and recommit to taking up the towel for good of each other.
b. We need to commit to doing what’s best for others.
c. We need to commit to putting the needs of others before us.
3. We need an attitude of humility.
a. Let’s learn from and obey the teaching and example of Jesus.
b. He was humble of heart.
i. Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”
ii. Let’s learn from our Master and reject all species of pride and self-love.
iii. Let’s take up the towel and serve one another.
c. Robert Chapman’s example.
i. One of the most striking examples of humility I have ever heard of is from the life R.C. Chapman, circa late 1800’s.
ii. When Chapman 29 he became the pastor of a small, dysfunctional Baptist congregation at Ebenezer Chapel in Barnstaple, England. He had been a believer for about 10 years.
iii. Ebenezer had gone through three pastors in 18 months. It was a pastors graveyard.
iv. The congregation had all kinds of internal factions a few years after Chapman arrived there was an internal group that left the church. Not long after that they demanded that Chapmen and the rest of the church move out, because the building was not being used according to the practices of the Particular Baptists.
v. Chapman looked over the deed to the building and saw no contingency that the building be used according to these Particular Baptists, but the group persisted…
vi. Chapman thought and prayed and came to the conclusion that the Christ-like thing to do, is to give them the building. Sort of like giving up your cloak to someone who demanded it.
vii. So Chapman’s group, which was way bigger than this small group of dissenters, gave up their legal rights to the building.
viii. They rented a place for a few years, then found an ideal property, bought it, closed on the deal, only to find out the Church of England wanted to buy the property and was hoping to build on that lot.
ix. So the group prayed about what to do, and they were led to Phil. 4:5, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…” or “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.”
x. Chapman advided the congregation to give up the building to the Church of England, and they did.
xi. Despite all this, the fellowship continued to grow as did their reputation of Christ-likeness. The Lord was honored.
xii. “Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division.” Chapman
xiii. Read about the life of R.C. Chapman’s in Agape Leadership.
4. We need an attitude of unity.
a. The Bible never speaks of creating unity, but rather maintaining unity.
b. We already have unity in Christ.
c. When LBC is in two locations we have unity in Christ.
d. When LBC launches an independent assembly, we have unity in Christ.
e. There is absolutely no question in my mind that LBC is doing the Christ-honoring thing by planting churches.
f. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has led the elders.
g. Nonetheless, we need to maintain a spirit of unity among the believers. Both today, this fall, and 20 years from now…if the Lord hasn’t returned.
VI. The Perfect Servant is Gentle (12:20).
a. “a bruised reed he will not break…”
i. Isaiah is talking about a marsh reed. They were everywhere. They were common. They were fragile. They were helpless and fragile.
ii. A reed was actually used for a flute, a measuring rod, a pen, and a number of other things.
iii. Reeds had many uses, but once a reed was broken, it was quickly thrown away and replaced for a better one.
iv. A bruised or broken reed represented weakness and helplessness, something the world would quickly toss away, not pay any attention to.
b. “a smoldering wick he will not quench…”
i. a smoldering wick was annoying. Not only did it not give much light, it produced smoke.
ii. Naturally, you would snuff it out and be done with it.
iii. A little flax was cheap, so you just replaced it.
iv. Most people would discard a broken reed or a smoldering wick…but not Jesus. Jesus is gentle with those who are tender and fragile.
v. Jesus was sensitive and in tune with the broken and needy. He had ears to hear the poor in spirit.
1. “Just last week, on a vacation in the Canadian north, I swam in a clear, remote lake during the evening hours. At one point, when I paused for a moment, I noticed that everything around me was perfectly still. I could hear every tiny sound, even from far away. It occurred to me that this is what we are to be as Christians, spiritually speaking: fully alert, fully alive, fully attuned to what goes on around us. We are to be people who truly hear, see, feel, and touch. I believe this is what Jesus was–completely in touch with the world around him. May you and I be the kinds of people who are sensitive to God and others–people who have eyes to see, ears to hear, people whose hearts beat for God, care deeply for others, and yearn for the salvation of the lost.” Andreas Kostenberger
vi. That’s Jesus. He is hyper-senstative to the bruised reeds and the smoking flax around Him. He has an open seat next to His table for all who are poor in spirit and hurting. Unlike the world, He LOVES the lowly. He is drawn towards the hurting.
1. Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people who are broken and needy.
2. Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people worn out and tired and exhausted with life’s circumstances.
3. Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people are neglected by the world, but accepted by Jesus.
a. There are no “worthless” people to Jesus.
vii. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
1. “But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (9:12-13)
2. He came for sinners, and spiritually speaking, that’s ALL of us!
a. If you don’t get the fact that you are bruised reed, than the person and work of Jesus will be very bland and boring.
b. But if you see Him as Choice. As Heaven’s Best. Than you will respond with a life-change.
3. Jesus is gentle with the poor in spirit.
a. He is gentle to the bruised reeds.
c. Application for The Church Plant.
i. Let us promote and display a tenderness to each others needs.
1. We have already seen this and it’s marvelous.
2. You are to be encouraged.
3. Sometimes it’s appropriate to warn, or correct, or even rebuke, but in this you are to be encouraged.
4. I haven’t talked to one person who hasn’t been willing to be put to work, and serve, wherever that may be. I am so encouraged by this.
ii. Let us take special note of the bruised reed and the smoking flax in our midst.
1. Let me give you an example of what this does NOT mean…
a. In May of 2009, on the Haizhu bridge in Guangzhou, China, a disturbed man in deep financial debt was poised on the edge of the bridge contemplating suicide. Because of him police had closed the bridge, disrupting traffic for five hours. People stood watching the police to see what he would do. Suddenly a 66-year-old man pushed his way through the police lines and walked up to the man considering suicide. He reached out and shook the hand of the troubled man. Then he pushed him off the bridge.
b. Later he explained why: "I pushed him off because jumpers like [him] are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest. They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."
c. Fortunately, the police had spread an inflatable emergency cushion beneath the bridge, and as a result the suicidal man was injured but not killed.
2. Compare that with a story I heard just this week…
a. The article was entitled, “The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge”
3. The Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.
a. “San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge may be beautiful, but the landmark has become just as famous for its staggering suicide rate as its International Orange spires. Over in its 75-year history, making it one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. has only made the number more daunting. But this article and video told the lesser-told story of the countless lives saved by suicide prevention experts. In the six-minute video, who has saved hundreds from leaping over the railing in his 26-year career. "I've never actually counted the number, but it's been numerous people," said Briggs in the video. "Maybe two a month.”
b. Locati recounted another incident between Briggs and one distraught man that lasted over seven hours in the middle of the night. Eventually, the man climbed back over the railing.
c. "We asked him, 'What was it finally after all those hours that you finally decided to come back?'" recalled Locati. "He just said, 'Kevin wouldn't give up.'"
4. Some of the Sergeant's words stuck out…
a. "When I talk to someone, I try to dig into them and see whats going on."
b. "I try to get them to raise their head up."
c."I actually went down on my knees and said, "Look, I got nothin'.""
d. "Hey, I've been through some of this also."
e. "I like to lead them with dignity."
f. "That's what we do, that's why we're here."
d. Application for Individuals:
i. Let’s take Jesus’ words to heart when He says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”
ii. Let’s learn from our Master and reject all forms of pride and self-love.
iii. Let’s take up the towel and serve one another.
VII. The Gospel OF GRACE for Bruised Reeds…