He Will Not Break

Written by Kailynn Nelson 

"Behold, my servant who I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well please.
I will put my Spirit upon Him,
and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud;
nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets;
a bruised reed He will not break,
and a smoldering wick He will not quench,
until He brings justice to victory;
and in His name the Gentiles will hope." - Matt. 12:18-21
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
I first heard of The Bruised Reed by Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes almost a year ago. I was in a season of God exposing sin and idols in my life. It was also a season where I was dealing with some uncertainty about the future and some attacks from the enemy. I had many days where I felt defeated by my sin and many days where I was sure God was disappointed with me. I was frustrated with myself, and I was sure God was too. But during that season, God showed me so much sweet mercy. I had many times during that season where God would wrap His arms around me and show me how much He loved me, even in moments where I wasn’t very lovable. During that season, I was reminded constantly about the beautiful truth of the gospel and the grace of God in Jesus.
One specific morning I remember waking up feeling very spiritually weak. I was scrolling through Facebook when, by God's grace, I came across a podcast from David Platt (I highly recommend listening to it for yourself by clicking on the link provided here and at the bottom of the post). Platt specifically looks at Matthew 12:18-21, which I quoted above. He reminds listeners about Jesus being a merciful servant. In the podcast, Platt mentions a quote from The Bruised Reed: “Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, Christ calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before Him and…go to Christ ...There is more mercy in Him than sin in you.” As I listened, I remember feeling like Jesus was standing there in my room speaking right to me. I felt Him standing in front of me, taking my face in His hands and lifting my eyes up to Him. And most of all I could feel the deep, tender love He had for me in that moment. Jesus saw where I was and what I was. And He would not crush me. He would not quench me. I was pointed back to the Bible and the truth that even in my sin, Jesus loved me.
“Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, Christ calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before Him and…go to Christ ...There is more mercy in Him than sin in you.”
A few months later, I read The Bruised Reed for myself. This book is a beautiful reminder of the gospel. Rooted in Scripture, The Bruised Reed digs into the depths of God’s mercy and just how radical the gospel is. I want to share a bit of how he does this by looking here at what it means to be a bruised reed and how God loves us as bruised reeds.
What is a bruised reed?
Sibbes says that in Matthew 12 we see a description of Jesus as a servant. We see also the kind of people Jesus was sent to serve in Matthew 12. He was sent to serve bruised reeds and smoking flax. So, what does it mean to be a bruised reed? “By the bruised here is not meant those that are brought low only by crosses, but such as, by them, are brought to see their sin, which bruises most of all” (10). A bruised reed is someone who has been broken by their sin. God in some way or another has shown them their sin, and they grieve because of it. Being bruised is not necessarily God punishing us for sin, but it’s also something deeper than simply feeling bad about our sin. It may seem like a harsh way to say it at first, but being convicted of sin really, truly hurts. Speaking from my own experience, when God truly convicts you of your sin it feels like you’ve been bruised. During the season I wrote about in the beginning of this post, I felt bruised. I saw how dark my sin was and how quickly and constantly I found myself in it. Seeing my sin hurt. God let it hurt. He let it bring me to a place of confession (to Him and to another person) and to repentance.
There are many examples in the Bible of what it looks like to be bruised. We see this in many of the Psalms. Part of why I love the Psalms is because of how real and honest they are. In Psalm 51, David is writing about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, which you can read about in detail in 2 Samuel 12. God confronts David about this sin and David grieves over it. He writes these words: “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have broken rejoice” (Psalm 51:8). When God convicted David of his sin it felt like David’s bones were being broken. Seeing the depth of his sin hurt. And ultimately what hurt was knowing his sin was against the God he loved. Again, in another Psalm, David writes that when he kept silent about his sin it felt like his bones were wasting away. He writes that God’s hand was on him until he finally confessed his sin. In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul talks about the difference between godly grief and worldly grief. He writes, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting” (2 Cor. 7:9). Godly grief leads to repentance. Godly grief, being bruised, turns us back to God because that is ultimately who our sin is against.
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have broken rejoice” (Psalm 51:8)
Sibbes says all of us are bruised reeds. He says bruising is “required before conversion so the Spirit may make way for Himself into the heart by leveling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature” (4). The first awareness of our sin breaks down our human pride. Before we are bruised we think we don’t need God. We think we don’t need grace. God often let’s sin bruise us, so we can see what we are without Him. Even “after conversion we need bruising so that reeds may see themselves to be reeds and not oaks” (5). Even for those of us who grew up in the church and don’t have an initial “bruised reed” conversion moment, we still have moments where we are bruised because of sin. God still convicts us of our sin not to condemn us, but to humble us. Sibbes uses Peter as one example of this. Sibbes says, “Thus Peter was bruised when he wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). This reed, till he met with this bruise had more wind in him than pith when he said, ‘though all forsake thee, I will not’ (Matt. 26:33).” Peter was full of his own pride when he told Jesus he would never leave Him. But when Peter denied Jesus in front of His face, he was humbled. In that moment, God showed Peter his own pride and that brought Peter to his knees.
Christ will not break the bruised reed
Being bruised is much more than just knowing sin is wrong and feeling bad about it. Being bruised, being convicted of sin hurts. When God shines His light on our hearts and exposes sin, it is not pleasant, at least not at first. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. It may be tempting to hide when God exposes sin. It may be tempting to avoid conviction or to ignore it. It hurts, so it’s tempting to not deal with it. It may even be tempting to believe because we feel bruised, because we see how bad our sin is, God is done with us. We may think, as God bruises and convicts, He is going to break us.
But, I want to encourage you here because there is good news even in our bruising. There is light even in the darkness of our sin.
Because God through Jesus Christ will not crush the bruised reed.
God may bruise us for a season, let us feel conviction for a time, but He does not break us all the way. Neither does He leave us bruised. As Sibbes says, “Physicians, though they put their patients to much pain, will not destroy nature, but raise it up by degrees”(7). Sibbes points to the different descriptions of Jesus in the Bible. Jesus is our husband, shepherd, and brother. Sibbes encourages us to consider many aspects of who Jesus is. “Consider the names He has borrowed from the mildest creatures, such as lamb and hen, to show His tender care…Consider His office answerable to His name, which is that He should ‘bind up the broken-hearted’” (8). Sibbes points to many parts of the New Testament as examples of Jesus’ mercy:
“As a prophet, He came with blessing in His mouth, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matt. 5:3)” (8).
“How did His heart yearn when He saw the people ‘as sheep having no shepherd’ (Matt. 9:36)” (8).
“He never turned any back again that came to Him, though some went away of themselves” (8).
“In the days of His flesh He dictated a form of prayer unto His disciples, and put petitions unto God into their mouths, and His Spirit to intercede in their hearts” (8). (Amazing that the ability to pray and for God to hear our prayers is an act of mercy from Jesus!).
Ultimately, of course, the cross is where this mercy shines the brightest. As Jesus was nailed to the cross, “He shed tears for those who shed His blood.” Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, when we are bruised we can turn to Him to find mercy. “He died that He might heal our souls with a plaster of His own blood, and by that death save us” (8). Jesus died to give us the grace we would need to be set free from our sins. He died to heal our bruises.
When I was bruised by my sin, Jesus saw me and did not crush me. He saw everything I was. He even saw everything I would be, because I still continue to sin, even sometimes in the same ways. And even though He saw me, all my sin, all my evil, and all my darkness, He would not crush me.
Because Jesus Christ will not crush the bruised reed.  
Resources used and suggested:
  • The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
  • Radical.net: Christ Our Servant
  • Desiring God: A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
If you would like to listen to an audio version of The Bruised Reed you can find one on the Audiobook app. If you download the app onto your phone and go into the free books section there should be one under the Religion and Spirituality section.

No Comments