DEVOTION: on bruised reeds and smoldering wicks

The following is from Charles Spurgeon, one of my favorite preachers. He is rifting off a verse we read this past week, Matthew 12:20:

Evening, July 19

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“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.”Matthew 12:20

What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoking flax? reed that groweth in the fen or marsh, let but the wild duck light upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed. Then look at the smoking flax—what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant’s breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame. Weak things are here described, yet Jesus says of them, “The smoking flax I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break.” Some of God’s children are made strong to do mighty works for him; God has his Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza’s gates, and carry them to the top of the hill; he has a few mighties who are lion-like men, but the majority of his people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passer by; a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint; their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave, they are drifted along like a sea bird on the crest of the billows—weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight. Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made specially to them. Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and lovingkindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus—so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from his touch. We need never fear a harsh word from him; though he might well chide us for our weakness, he rebuketh not. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from him, and the smoking flax no damping frowns.

It is Finished – The Law and Prophets are Filled Up and Fleshed Out

The following is from my current favorite dead preacher, a British man named Charles Spurgeon. He started preaching about the time Oakland was founded and became one of the most famous preachers in the whole world. He is the best wordsmith preacher I’ve ever known and knows the Scriptures better than most. His use of illustration, metaphor, and invitation reconvert me almost every single sermon.
In this sermon, he shows us that Jesus of Nazareth has “fulfilled all of Scripture” from Genesis to Malachi. Jesus is the substance of everything foreshadowed, hinted, predicted, and endured. I pray than all of our Bible knowledge and Jesus-affection grows until we recognize every Scripture allusion in this list, and love Christ more as the King who Reigns and the Lamb who was slain. Enjoy.

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What meant the Savior, then, by this—“It is finished”? He meant, first of all, that all the types, promises and prophecies were now fully accomplished in Him. Those who are acquainted with the original will find that the words—”It is finished,” occur twice within three verses. In the 28th verse we have the word in the Greek. It is translated in our version “accomplished,” but there it stands—”After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, says, ‘I thirst.’ ” And then He afterwards said, “It is finished.” This leads us to see His meaning very clearly that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, that when He said, “It is finished,” the whole Book, from the first to the last, in both the Law and the Prophets, was finished in Him.

There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi which was not set in the breast-plate of the true High Priest. No, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle-dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself which was not fulfilled in Him. And not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan, not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea which was not now fully worked out in Christ Jesus. And, Brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises and prophecies and types apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one Person!

Take away Christ for one moment and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living and say to him, “Take this. This is a problem, go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all that which is herein foreshadowed. Remember, He must be a Prophet like unto Moses and yet a champion like Joshua. He must be an Aaron and a Melchisedek. He must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. No, He must not only be the lamb that was slain and the scapegoat that was not slain, the turtle-dove that was dipped in blood and the priest who slew the bird, but He must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy seat and the showbread.”

No, to puzzle this wise man further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contra- dictory that one would think they never could meet in one man—such as these, “All kings shall fall down before Him and all nations shall serve Him.” And yet, “He is despised and rejected of men.” He must begin by showing a man born of a virgin mother—”A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord does cause to meet the iniquities of us all. He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground. Now I say it boldly—if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies—they could not do it.

I see you, you wise men—you are poring over these hieroglyphs—one suggests one key and it opens two or three of the figures. But you cannot proceed for the next one puts you at a nonplus. Another learned man suggests another clue— but that fails most where it is most needed—and another and another and thus these wondrous hieroglyphs traced of old by Moses in the wilderness must be left unexplained, till one comes forward and pro- claims—”The Cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate”—then the whole is clear, so that he that runs may read and a child may understand.

Blessed Savior! In You we see everything fulfilled which God spoke of in old by the Prophets. In You we discover everything carried out in substance which God had set before us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke. Glory be unto Your name! “It is finished”—everything is summed up in YOU!

Charles Spurgeon, “It is Finished” Sermon 421. Preached on Dec 1, 1861 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.