by Spiros Zodhiates
"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" (Matt. 12:20,21).
Verse 20 speaks of Christ's loving concern for and patience with mankind. The "bruised reed" could refer to a reed blown and bent by the wind or perhaps stepped upon, or, more likely, to a reed which was used for writing during the time of Isaiah. This was the stem of a plant sharpened to a point, which was dipped into ink. In time, the point would become saturated with ink and soften beyond use, or the reed would bend from pressure at the point where it was held. Frequently, the writer would snap it in two and throw it away.
A similar illustration is given by the smoking flax. This was the linen wick of an oil lamp, smoldering and about ready to go out. To stop the smoke, one would simply crush the wick between his fingers.
Although we may be bruised by the cares of the world or almost broken by sin, Jesus cares. He will not abandon us and cast us aside. If the fire of our faith has ebbed till there is nothing left but smoke, Jesus cares. He wants to restore the flame of faith and bring back life into the dying ember.
The two negatives in this verse are the absolute "not" (ou)-an absolute guarantee that our Lord will not discard His children.
His mercy will continue "till he send forth (ekbále from ekbálo, to put forth) judgment unto victory. "Judgment" (krísis) here has the double meaning of separation and judgment. The victory will be brought upon those who separated themselves to the side of the chosen and beloved Servant (v. 18).
"His name" refers to all that Christ's name stands for, and the Gentiles shall trust in Him. The few believers among the nations are the flickering wick which will prevail and be separated when judgment is pronounced.
From a forthcoming commentary on Matthew