Jesus brings hope for the damaged

Matthew 12:18-21 is a quote from Isaiah 42, which Jesus applies to Himself

Matthew 12:18-21 is a quote from Isaiah 42, which Jesus applies to Himself. He is God’s servant, God’s chosen one, the one God loves and in whom He delights. The prophecy that God would put His Spirit on Him was fulfilled at Jesus’s baptism. When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven saying, ‘this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” In this quote from Isaiah that Christ applies to Himself, we see the compassion of Christ towards the weak; Vs. 18 speaks of His commission – to proclaim justice. Vs. 19 and 20 speak of His manner in carrying it out. He will do it silently, tenderly and successfully. Vs. 21 speaks of our duty toward Him, to put our hope in Him.

The bruised reed and smoldering wick speak of weakness and what we see here is Jesus Christ the creator of hope in the hearts of sin-crushed men. What we need to see here and what will be immensely helpful to us when we do, is that all humanity are brushed reeds and smoldering wicks. We cannot and will not fully appreciate the message of the gospel, until we understand that we are all weak; we are all broken; we are all damaged goods; we are all imperfect.

This state of brokenness goes right back to the Garden of Eden and to Adam and Eve. After they had sinned against God, they wanted to go into hiding. They were weak and broken and all they wanted to do was hide from God. But we read God went looking for them. Today, that has not changed. It is as we read in Romans 3, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together becomes worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” That simply says that all people are weak, damaged, imperfect and broken and on their own cannot even seek the Lord.

In Genesis we not only see the fall of man, but we also read of the hope promised. To Adam and Eve, in their sin and shame and embarrassment, God lovingly promises that one day He will overcome Satan whose lies they have believed. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that promise. When He died and rose again, He conquered that old serpent. He conquered sin and death and hell, and the same time offering hope to all peoples of the earth.

Today we are yet living with the consequences of the sin of our first parents. After God promised hope in Genesis 3, we read He also promised a curse of “thorns and thistles”. Life from that moment forward would be painful, difficult and frustrating. The curse God put on mankind was in two primary areas – our relationships and our work.

As part of the curse of the Fall, God said relationships would be marked by pain and misunderstandings. We will be disappointed with people in our marriages, families, churches, and workplaces. A sense of closeness would be replaced with manipulation, power struggles, putdowns, seductions, defensiveness and the withholding of relationship. Loneliness would reign.

Man was built to have domination over the earth and to work it, but with the hall frustration and failure became his lot. He would find the ground hard. He would have to contend with thorns and thistles. Goals may be reached and things accomplished, but there would never be a feeling of complete satisfaction. There would always be a sense of restlessness and incompleteness.

Why does God do this? He releases the curse in order to drive us to seek Him. God put the curse on the earth so that we would recognize our need for a Savior. God wants us to be broken by the thorns and thistles. But what do we do? We do one of three things, and maybe in some respects do all three. First, some of us flee. We flee by burying our pain in some form of addictive behaviour, avoiding life by focusing on only a small part of it. Addictions are often a cover up for pain. Second, some of us fight. We become angry and bitter and even violent because life is not going our way. Third, some of us hide. We build our lives in ways that cover up how damaged, cracked, fractured, frail, limited, and imperfect we are. We may exaggerate and actually lie about our true condition and how we are really doing. The common thread of all humanity is that we are all broken, all damaged, all cracked, all imperfect.

Many of us have been given cause to think that God wants to heal our brokenness and imperfections. The reality, however, is that brokenness is God’s design and will for our lives!

Consider that Apostle Paul. Paul’s growth in Christ parallels his increasing sense of weakness and sinfulness. In Galatians 2:6, written in A.D. 49, after being a Christian for 14 years, he write about the apostles this way: “As for those who seemed to be important-whatever they were makes no difference to me.” At that point he appears proud and headstrong. It seems almost like blasphemy to speak of Paul like that, but he was a man like us and like us, he too has to grow in the Lord. He was not in any way perfect or sinless. Yes, he was greatly used of God but he was used in his imperfectness!

Six years later, in A.D. 55, Paul writes the Corinthians in a more humble manner. “I am the least of the apostles” (I Cor. 15:9). Five years after that, in about A.D. 60 and 25 years after becoming a Christian, he proclaims, “I am less that the least of all God’s people” (Eph. 3:8). Finally, two years before his death and perhaps after walking with Christ for 30 years, he is able to see clearly, “I am the worst [of all sinners]” (I Tim. 1:15). What happened? Paul had grown in his understanding of the love of God in the Gospel. He became stronger in Christ by becoming weaker: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10).

It should be no surprise to us that Paul was broken and yet used of God. The truth is the only kind of people God uses are broken people! Moses stuttered; David’s armour didn’t fit; John Mark deserted Paul; Timothy had ulcers; Hosea’s wife was a prostitute; Amos’s only training was farming; Jacob was a liar; David had an affair, murdered and abused power; Naomi was a widow; Paul was a persecutor; Moses was a murderer; Jonah ran from God’s will; Gideon and Thomas both doubted; Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal; Elijah was burned out; John the Baptist was a loudmouth; Martha was a worry-wart; Noah got drunk; Solomon was too rich and Jesus was too poor; Abraham was too old, and David was too young; Peter was afraid of death and Lazarus was dead; Moses had a short fuse (so did Peter, Paul and lots of Bible heroes).

God has always used crack pots as we read in 2 Cor. 4:7 to “Show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” This doesn’t mean we should stay the way we are, but admitting the truth about ourselves is the key starting point for change. Someone has said, “It is because God does not love as we do, because He does not feel as we do, because He does not act as we do, that I have any hope for my race – that I have any hope for myself.”

We have just come through the Christmas season, celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. Let us remember why He came. He came to make us right with God. The reason we can be made right with God. The reason we can be made right with God through Christ is four-fold. First because Jesus is both God and Man; second, because Jesus died and rose again; third because He is currently in heaven and fourth because He fulfilled God’s promise.

When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, He came to bring hope for the broken, the damaged, the cracked, and the imperfect. There is hope and there is a bright tomorrow for those who see their need of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come to Him in simple faith and live day by day in dependence on Him, saying to Him in words “I need you.” “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we (broken as we are) should be called children of God!”