Care for the Weak
I. Matthew 12:9-21
A. Even a casual reading of the Gospels brings up an noticeable and odd fact, Jesus would heal and then charge the people to tell no one. Why?
1. First, Jesus did not need any advertisement. His presence was sufficient.
2. Second, Jesus did not want people following just for the miracles (John 6:26)
3. However, the quote from Isaiah gives us deeper insight.
B. The Pharisees were seeking to destroy Jesus
1. Jesus did not fear to confront them, as shown by his performing a miracle on the Sabbath in front of the Pharisees. He knew it would anger them.
2. But when they plotted to kill him, he withdrew. He also healed, but asked that it not be spread.
3. The quote from Isaiah tells us why.
C. Verse 20 - The Pharisees were the bruised reed and the smoking flax.
1. Jesus could have pushed the issue, but it wasn’t in the Pharisee’s best interest.
2. If he was to win them to God’s side, he had to give them a chance to think about his teachings and time to digest its meaning.
a. He had to wound their pride to shake them out of their sins.
b. Rubbing salt into the wound would not improve matters.
3. He withdrew, not from fear, but to give the Pharisees a chance to turn around.
II. A bruised reed is one bent, just a small push would break it off completely. A smoldering flax is a wick that is just about to go out. Too hard of a breathe would snuff it out completely.
A. Both are symbols of a weak and feeble faith. Wrong must be opposed, but the goal is to bring people to God, not to drive the wicked away because you’re right and they are wrong.
B. Gal. 6:1-2 - Restore the wayward with gentleness
C. Verse 19 says he would not strive. Jesus stood firm with the truth, but he did not pick fights. Very similar to Paul’s teaching in II Tim. 2:24-26.
D. Some religions zealously convert people with the sword. Islam is a notable example. But contrast this with Jesus’ statement - John 18:36
E. Both Christ and Paul seemed weak and timid because of their gentle teaching. But the boldness and strength of their stand is apparent in the truths they presented - II Cor. 10:1
F. I Cor 9:22 - Done so that he could save the weak.
III. The weak are not encouraged to remain weak, but tenderly tended so they will grow to full strength.
A. The bruised reed is gently straightened, bound, and protected until it can stand on its own. The smoldering flax is gently blown until its flame returns to full strength.
B. Only through growth can we avoid the trap of evil - II Pet 3:18
C. Imitate Christ and encourage the weak to become strong - Rom 15:1-7
D. Heb 12:12-15 - Support the feeble, clear their path of obstacles.
1. Job was known for this - Job 4:3-4
E. Support the weak - I Thess 5:14
F. This is the example that Christ and Paul left for us - Acts 20:35
G. Notice how often patience is mentioned in these passages. Instant fixes are extremely rare. We need to bind the broken and then given them time to heal. This is why Jesus withdrew for a time after conflict.
IV. There is hope. There is a coming victory.
A. Not all will recover. Everyone will not respond to treatment.
B. But when one is restored. What joy! - James 5:19-20