Monday, January 14, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 1

Spurgeon was correct when he said that, "Sibbes never wastes the student's time, he scatters pearls and diamonds with both hands." The first chapter is only 6 pages but it holds within some of the pearls and diamonds that Spurgeon mentioned.

Quick Outline:
  • Christ's Calling
  • How Christ Pursues His Calling
  • What it is to be Bruised
  • The Good Effects of Bruising

Sibbes begins expounding upon Isaiah 42:1-3. In this chapter his main concern is the calling of Christ to his office and showing how he carries that out. What is that great service? The work of our salvation. As Sibbes says, "For in all that Christ did and suffered as Mediator, we must see God in him reconciling the world unto himself".

How then does Christ go about fulfilling his calling? I take Sibbes "how" to be saying "in what manner" not so much "by what means". So, in what manner does Christ fulfill His calling? He does so modestly, knowing those which he is to rescue. His bride is indeed a bruised reed and smoking flax.

What then does it mean to be one of these reeds that is bruised? It is a man that is in some misery, and through this misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it. It puts in us a restless desire. He then looks to Christ and is stirred up by examples of those that have obtained mercy. The bruised reed now hungers and thirst after healing.

Sibbes closes by considering what good may come from bruising. Bruising is often effectual in bringing sinners to Christ. It also causes men to cry out for mercy. As bruised reeds cry to Christ for mercy they highly esteem him. This bruising is not only needed to lead us to Christ in conversion; it is also needed to break us of our pride. It also keeps us from looking down upon down-hearted Christians. We must see the grace of God working in them.

Sibbes final statement is great for helping us see why God goes through this process of bruising. "It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and in tractable are our hearts."


Sometimes pearls and diamonds are hard to see. Many times you have to go back into the mine to find the choicest diamonds. I know because of the title of the next chapter that Sibbes has only planted a seed in showing us how beautifully Christ deals with the bruised and broken. As I read through this chapter I have a longing to be bruised by Christ for my treacherous sin, so that I can experience the beautiful fruit of His comfort. You can see through this chapter that Sibbes is helping us to see that the more bruised a man is (or at least sees himself as so) the more precious the gospel will be to him. I particularly like Sibbes statement that when we are bruised in such a manner, "then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig-leaves of morality will do us no good". What a diamond! I have been preparing a sermon on legalism and this quote really hits home. As long as we are trying to cover self with the fig-leaves of morality we will never get the gospel. But "the gospel becomes the gospel indeed" when we are so broken and bruised that we have no hope for mercy but to call out to Christ for healing.

Pearls and Diamonds:

"And what a comfort is this, that, seeing God's love rests on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love rests in a whole Christ, in Christ mystical, as well as Christ natural, because he loves him and us with one love."(p.2)

"It is a very hard thing to bring a dull and an evasive heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the Judge."(p.4)

"After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks".(p.5)

"It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our heart".(p.6)

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