Friday, 22 May 2009

Jesus the gentle healer... for now

Having been reading Richard Sibbes' 'The Bruised Reed' and posting on it occasionally below, I was quite excited when it dawned on me that I was just coming up to Matthew's quotation of Isaiah 42:1-4 in my sermon series on Matthew.

What has struck me in preparing for this sermon is the reminder that, wonderful though this image of Christ is - the one who in his compassion won't even break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering wick - it is still only a temporary facet of Christ's nature. It was the little word 'until' in Matthew 12:20 that brought this home to me.

Why is this worth noticing? Because it reminds us that when he 'brings justice to victory' there will be no more need for this ministry of Christ. At that time all the vast multitude of things that in the here-and-now bruise us and would quench our light will be gone forever. When true justice reigns supreme then sin must necessarily be banished, and therefore the effects of sin will also be gone forever.

So in these verses there's more than just the wonderful comfort of Christ the gentle healer. There's also the promise that he won't fulfil this role forever, because he will also eventually usher in his glorious new creation 'in which righteousness dwells' (2 Peter 3:13) and so bring to an end the pain and suffering that for now he ministers to in our lives.


  1. I'd be interested in your take on Sibbes' take on the 'until he brings justice to victory'. I've just finished it, and was as lot less sure of that than of the earlier chapters. Seems to take it as being the work of completion of righteousness in the believer, exclusively?

  2. I'm just working through that section at the moment. The first part is undoubtedly the best, but I've just been taking his stuff on bringing justice to victory in the life of the believer as being his particular focus, rather than insisting that he views it as the whole truth on the matter.

    Maybe it's something we're just a lot hotter on nowadays, and not something that was a particular emphasis in Sibbes' day - in my very limited experience, I don't think you often find the Puritans working in big redemptive-historical brushstrokes. My assumption has been that that was stuff they 'obviously' believed (since everybody did) and so they didn't feel the need to elucidate it. The crying need they saw was for this deep, personal religion that gave rise to their characteristic focus on the inner life of the believer.