Bruised, But Not Broken (Matthew [12]14-21)

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Bruised, But Not Broken

Text: Matthew 12:14-21

Place Preached - (Mississauga International Baptist Church)

Date Preached - (04/07/02)


As Christ ministered to the masses he paid special attention to the weak and infirmed.  The sickly and destitute.  “The Little People”.

Let’s be honest, that’s where we are.

If it is not true in other respects, then it certainly true spiritually.

Christ had a special affinity for the average person.

Isaiah 61:1  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Mark 12:37  David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

This popularity amongst the common people did not sit well with the religious elite of the day – Scribes and Pharisees etc. 

Many times they harshly criticized Christ and in their anger and jealousy would have killed Him on many occasions.

Matthew quotes from Isaiah 42:1-4 and explains Christ’s ministry to the weak as a fulfillment of this passage.

Verse 20 stands out in setting forth Christ’s ministry, compassion and ultimate purpose for the weak.

You may be a New Convert, or one saved some time but backslidden.  God has a purpose for you!!

Let’s look at three aspects of our text that give us hope…

I. Pictures of Mortal Frailty

The Bruised Reed

The reed is an emblem of feebleness, as well as change, Mt 11:7. A bruised, broken reed, is an emblem of the poor and oppressed. It means that he would not oppress the feeble and poor, as victorious warriors and conquerors did.

It is also an expressive emblem of the soul, broken and contrite on account of sin, weeping and mourning for transgression.

He will not break it. That is, he will not be haughty, unforgiving, and cruel. He will heal it, pardon it, and give it strength.

The Smoking Flax

This refers to the wick of a lamp when the oil is exhausted--the dying, flickering flame and smoke that hang over it.

It is an emblem, also, of feebleness and infirmity. He would not farther oppress it, and extinguish it. He would not be like the Jews, proud and overbearing, and trampling down the poor.

It is expressive, also, of the languishing graces of the people of God. He will not treat them harshly or unkindly, but will cherish the feeble flame, minister the oil of grace, and kindle it into a blaze.

What do we learn from the character of the bruised reed and the smoking flax?

They are……

A. Weak Things

Frail and easily broken.  The Reed can be snapped by a gust of wind or the disturbance of a goose’s wing.

The smoking flax extinguished by a drop of rain or a baby’s breath.

How like our Lord to have pity and use such weakened vessels!!

2 Corinthians 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

2 Corinthians 12:10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

B. Worthless Things

What would you pay for a bruised reed or a smoking flax?  NOTHING!! – They are utterly worthless.

ILLUS: Like the litter discarded along the highway.

Yet these are the sorts of things in which Christ finds value.

Luke 12:7  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

(CF. Matt 6)

C. Offensive Things

The bruised reed soon begins to yellow and decay.  The smoking flax gives off an offensive and strong odour.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Isaiah 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

D. Opportune Things

They are bruised, but not broken, they are yet of service.


  • Thief on the Cross – “This day shalt thou be with Me….

  • Woman taken in adultery – “Neither do I condemn thee….”

They are like the brands plucked from the burning (Zech 3:2)

·         The widow with her two mites.

The “weak” ones are often the means of bringing the “great” ones to Christ.

APPLICATION: - Afflicted / Defeated / Discouraged / New Convert / Stumbling / Backslidden / Elderly / Child / Etc.

II. Person of Divine Compassion

It is Christ!!

He will not break” / “He will not quench

Now He could!  He certainly has the ability and the justification to do so.  But the point is He will not.

NOTICE – There is much more involved here than the simple fact that He will not break or quench.

In addition….

He will plant / He will water / He will cause the bruised reed to grow /  And He will make it fruitful!!!

He will add to the kindling for the smoking flax / He will fuel and fan the flame!!

Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Why the weak are as safe as the strong….

A. Both are Equally Redeemed

Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Both cost Christ equally….

1 Peter 1:18-19  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

B. Both are Equally His children

Justified, Elect, Redeemed, Sons of God  - These terms apply equally to all believers – both the strong and the weak.

ILLUS: You love all your children (Rich or Poor / Wise or foolish / obedient or rebellious.

C. Both are Equally important in the Body – I Cor. 12

It is true in Service – True in Surrender

It is certainly also true in Suffering.

1 Corinthians 12:26  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Now I believe God places weak ones within the body for a purpose.

That purpose includes our own good and ultimately God’s glory!!

The weak provide the strong with an opportunity to practice true Biblical ministry and compassion after the pattern of….

Galatians 6:1  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

And after the pattern of….

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Now you can criticize and be part of the problem, or you can serve and minister to the weak.

D. God’s honour would be Equally tarnished by the loss of either.

John 17:11-12  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

III. Promise of Certain Victory

Till he send forth judgment unto victory

Isaiah 51:11  Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Nothing will hinder this victory…(SEE Rom. 8:34-35 & 38-39)

A. Not Suffering

B. Not Sickness

C. Not Persecution

D. Not Death

1 Corinthians 15:55-57  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

E. Not Demons

Conclusion:     (Review)


In our text today we saw….

Pictures of Mortal Frailty

Person of Divine Compassion

Promise of Certain Victory

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