A bruised reed shall he not break - A reed is, in Scripture, the emblem of weakness, Ezekiel 29:6; and a bruised reed must signify that state of weakness that borders on dissolution and death.
And smoking flax shall he not quench - Λινον τυφομενον. Λινος means the wick of a lamp, and τυφομενον is intended to point out its expiring state, when the oil has been all burnt away from it, and nothing is left but a mere snuff, emitting smoke. Some suppose the Jewish state, as to ecclesiastical matters, is here intended, the prophecy declaring that Christ would not destroy it, but leave it to expire of itself, as it already contained the principles of its own destruction. Others have considered it as implying that great tenderness with which the blessed Jesus should treat the weak and the ignorant, whose good desires must not be stifled, but encouraged. The bruised reed may recover itself, if permitted to vegetate under the genial influences of heaven; and the life and light of the expiring lamp may be supported by the addition of fresh oil. Jesus therefore quenches not faint desires after salvation, even in the worst and most undeserving of men; for even such desires may lead to the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace.
Judgment unto victory - See Matthew 12:18. By judgment, understand the Gospel, and by victory its complete triumph over Jewish opposition, and Gentile impiety. He will continue by these mild and gentle means to work till the whole world is Christianized, and the universe filled with his glory.
This account is found also in Mark 3:6-12.
The Pharisees held a council - Mark adds that the Herodians also took a part in this plot. They were probably a “political” party attached firmly to Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, tetrarch of Galilee. He was the same man who had imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist, and to whom the Saviour, when arraigned, was sent by Pilate. See the notes at Luke 3:1. He was under Roman authority, and was a strong advocate of Roman power. All the friends of the family of Herod were opposed to Christ, and ever ready to join any plot against his life. They remembered, doubtless, the attempts of Herod the Great against him when he was the babe of Bethlehem, and they were stung with the memory of the escape of Jesus from his bloody hands. The attempt against him now, on the part of the Pharisees, was the effect of “envy.” They hated his popularity, they were losing their influence, and they therefore resolved to take him out of the way.
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself - He knew of the plot which they had formed against his life; but his hour was not yet come, and he therefore sought security.
By remaining, his presence would only have provoked them further and endangered his own life. He acted, therefore, the part of prudence and withdrew. Compare the notes at Matthew 10:23.
Mark adds that he withdrew “to the sea;” that is, to the Sea of Galilee. or Tiberias. He states also Matthew 3:7-8 that “a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard what great things he did, came unto him.” As some of these places were without the limits of Judea or inhabited by “Gentiles,” this statement of Mark throws light on the passage quoted by Matthew Matthew 12:21, “In his name shall the Gentiles trust.”
Pressed by the crowd Mark 3:9, Jesus went aboard a “small vessel,” or “boat,” called by Mark a “ship.” This he did for the convenience of being separated from them and more easily addressing them. We are to suppose the lake still and calm; the multitudes, most of whom were sick and diseased, on the shore and pressing to the water‘s edge; and Jesus thus healing their diseases, and preaching to them the good news of salvation. No scene could be more sublime than this.
And he charged them - He was “at this time” desirous of concealment.
He wished to avoid their plots and to save his life.
That it might be fulfilled - Matthew here quotes a passage from Isaiah 42:1-4, to show the “reason why he thus retired from his enemies and sought concealment.” The Jews, and the disciples also at first, expected that the Messiah would be a conqueror, and vindicate himself from all his enemies. When they saw him retiring before them, and, instead of subduing them by force, seeking a place of concealment, it was contrary to all their previous notions of the Messiah. Matthew by this quotation shows that “their” conceptions of him had been wrong. Instead of a warrior and an earthly conqueror, he was “predicted” under a totally different character. Instead of shouting for battle, lifting up his voice in the streets, oppressing the feeble - “breaking bruised reeds and quenching smoking flax, as a conqueror” - he would be peaceful, retiring; would strengthen the feeble, and would cherish the faintest desires of holiness. This appears to be the general meaning of this quotation here. Compare the notes at Isaiah 42:1-4.
My servant - That is, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus; called a servant from his taking the “form” of a “servant,” or his being born in a humble condition Philemon 2:7, and from his obeying or “serving” God. See Hebrews 10:9.
Shall show judgment to the Gentiles - The word “judgment” means, in the Hebrew, law, “commands, etc.,” Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:29-30. It means the “whole system of truth;” the law of God in general; the purpose, plan, or “judgment” of God about human duty and conduct. Here it means, evidently, the system of “gospel truth,” the Christian scheme.
Gentiles - All who were not Jews. This prophecy was fulfilled by the multitudes coming to him from Idumea and beyond Jordan, and from Tyre and Sidon, as recorded by Mark 3:7-8.
He shall not strive - He shall not shout as a warrior.
He shall be meek, retiring, and peaceful. Streets were places of concourse. The meaning is, that he should not seek publicity and popularity.
A bruised reed - The reed is an emblem of feebleness, as well as of fickleness or want of stability, Matthew 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 severe, unforgiving, and cruel. He will heal it, pardon it, and give it strength.
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 further oppress those who had a little strength; he would not put out hope and life when it seemed to be almost extinct. He would not be like the Pharisees, 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.
Till he send forth judgment unto victory - “Judgment” here means truth - the truth of God, the gospel. It shall be victorious - it shall not be vanquished. Though the Messiah is not “such” a conqueror as the Jews expected, yet he “shall” conquer. Though mild and retiring, yet he will be victorious.
And in his name - The Hebrew in Isaiah is, “And the isles shall wait for his law.” The idea is, however, the same.
The “isles” denote the Gentiles, or a part of the Gentiles - those out of Judea. The meaning is, that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and that they should receive it. See the notes at Isaiah 41:1 for an explanation of the word “islands,” as it is used in the Bible.
Take up your appointed work. The Lord will fulfill the promise on His part. These inspired scriptures would never have been given to you if the Lord had not had confidence that you could do all that He has required. You can heed the invitation, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” TM 127.1
You may rise to the heights to which the Holy Spirit calls you. True religion means living the word in your practical life. Your profession is not of any value without the practical doing of the word. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” This is the condition of discipleship. “Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” TM 127.2
Thank God that a work is being done outside of the church. The church has not been properly educated to work outside of their own people. Many souls out of the church might have been enlightened, and a great deal more light brought into the church, if every church member in every country, who claims to have the advanced light of truth, had worked with heart and soul and voice to win souls to the truth. Altogether too little work is being done by church members for those who need the light, those who are outside of the church of Seventh-day Adventists. The Lord declares: “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” Those who cooperate with Jesus Christ will realize that all these promises are fulfilled in their own experience. The Lord has pointed out the duty of every soul. In the judgment no one will have any excuse to present for not doing his duty. TM 127.3Read in context »