A Bruised Reed and a Smoking Wick

A Bruised Reed and a Smoking Wick

As one of the many descriptions of the Messiah foretold in Isaiah, this passage focuses on Jesus’ service to humanity - especially individuals who were fragile or broken. And the 2 images that are used to describe these individuals are that of a bruised reed and a smoking wick. 

1) THE REED: This Hebrew word is for a reed that grew up to 15 feet tall and had several uses once cut - maybe as a measuring rod or as a walking staff. But the fact that they were hollow showed the limitations of even a good strong reed. It would splinter instead of bend if too much was asked of it. If it was already bruised - damaged in some way - it was regarded as useless. It would be intentionally broken and might be thrown on your burn or compost pile. 

But the bruised reed is an image for people here.

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The Traits of the Wise

The Traits of the Wise

If you spend much time in the Book of Proverbs, you might imagine these teachings portrayed visually as a series of caricatures - most notably the WISE MAN (OR WOMAN) and THE FOOL. Jesus uses this same character dichotomy to tell a story of choosing foundations for one’s house (Matthew 7:24-27). Here’s some of how Proverbs presents the traits of the wise man. He knows the value of…

  • Tact (15:1)
  • Confidentiality (11:13)...
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"You're Crazy!"

"You're Crazy!"

Mrs. Trumbull lived on an old plantation in Mississippi in the 1950s. In his Study of Courage and Fear, Harvard professor Robert Coles tells her story. A native of South Carolina, Mrs. Trumble was “unquestionably a Southern lady” - from her family pedigree to her own community status as a white churchgoing mother of four to her refined Southern accent. And yet a doctor in her town described her in 1958 as “the most outspoken integrationist who has ever managed to stay alive in this state.” Using her position for the purpose of bringing unity between white and black communities and desegregating the Mississippi culture made her quite unpopular and puzzling even to some members of her own family. In discussing her treatment from most of her white friends, Mrs. Trumble said, 

“To them I’m sick, mentally ill. They wouldn’t even believe YOU if you told them I was sane. They would say you’re crazy, too. That’s how they dismiss anyone whose thinking they don’t like, or they fear. They call the person insane, or they say the ideas he advocates are crazy ideas." 

When I think on Mrs. Trumble’s comments here, I see them reflecting what appears to be a common human reaction to those whose thoughts challenge us to change our views on positions we’ve clung to like a baby’s comfort blanket…thoughts that challenge the status quo...

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Satisfaction

Satisfaction

My first encounter with the mention of Turkish Delight was as a child the first time reading C. S. Lewis’s cornerstone story in the Narnia series - The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Children from England are transported to the land of Narnia through the back of a wardrobe, and what they find is a cold land where it is always winter and never Christmas. But it was not always so. The land is under a curse from a “White Witch.” One of the children, Edmund, is the first to encounter this witch…an episode eerily reminiscent of Eve’s conversation with the serpent about some fruit on a certain tree. In Lewis’s story, Edmund has both a fear and a fascination with this White Witch. And she attempts to win his affections by offering him some Turkish Delight…an appeal to the lust of his flesh. So Edmund gobbles it up. Its taste is delightful, but no matter how much of it he eats, he always craves more. Tasty…but never satisfying. 

The Bible has many ways of expressing the pattern of "tasty but never satisfying" in our pursuits...

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