Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Bruised Reed Chapter 2

In this second chapter Sibbes main point seems to be to set forth Christ as one that will "not only not break nor quench, but he will cherish those with whom he so deals." Again, Spurgeon is correct about the diamonds and pearls. I am tempted to photocopy the entire chapter and put it under the section of pearls and diamonds.

Quick Outline:

  • Christ's Dealing with the Bruised Reed
  • What Do We Learn from Christ Dealing's?
  • Who Are the Bruised Reeds?

It is difficult to summarize a chapter when you highlighted 40% of it. Sibbes begins this excellent chapter by showing the unbelievable mercy of Christ to his bruised reeds. He gives the example of our own mercy towards those that are "bruised" and then asks the pointed question, "Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God". He then shows just how true it is that Christ is full of mercy. He labors to show us all of the titles given to Christ to display just this.

Not only do Christ' titles display his tenderness and mercy but also the way in which he executed his office. A wonderful summary statement is: "He shed tears for those that shed his blood, and now he makes intercession in heaven for weak Christians, standing between them and God's anger".

Since we have such a merciful Savior what does this mean for us? Simply put, we learn to "come boldly to the throne of grace in all our grievances." We must not hide from this great Savior but rather, "open all before him". Not only does it bid us to come boldly to the throne of grace but it also supports us when we feel bruised. Furthermore, it sets Christ up as a wonderfully merciful master in contrast to the enemy.

Sibbes then asks three questions. The first of which is, "how shall we know whether we are such as may expect mercy". In other words, how do we know if we are bruised reeds? Sibbes gives eight evidences. The most foundational is that whenever the reality of your sin bruises you the most you can trust that you are a bruised reed of which Christ speaks. You can also see the evidence through a trembling of the word and a low esteem of self.

But how does this type of frame of mind come about? Does God do it? Do we do it? Sibbes says both. "When he humbles us, let us humble ourselves, and not stand out against him, for then he will redouble his strokes". Sibbes seems to be saying that as God works this bruising in us we must cooperate and feel the blows and begin delivering them in contrition ourselves. What must happen is that we must treasure Christ and seek to reform that which is amiss. This is how we cooperate in seeing this frame of mind come about.

Finally Sibbes asks a fitting question: "But are we not bruised unless we grieve more for sin than we do for punishment"? This is a fitting question and one which "The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes" gives an apt answer. He reminds us that the Lord knows our frame. And he gives very sound advice to those that might be questioning whether or not they be broken as they ought: "None are fitter for comfort than those that think themselves furthest off...A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope."


The tenderness with which Sibbes ministers convicts me. You can see that the tender Christ of which Sibbes speaks has penetrated and crafted of Himself a tender Sibbes. As I read through the first section I was enlivened a new with a big vision of our great and merciful Savior, and could not help but praise Jesus for His great mercy. I was also driven, as the Spirit used Sibbes, to "conceal not your wounds, open all before him".

My heart leaped for joy as I read, "there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us". Wow! Oh, how freeing, empowering, cleansing, enthralling, and joyous is such a truth! Therefore, it causes me to seek a further bruising for my sin so that I might see and experience more and more of Christ' great mercy.

This is one is for you to discuss: Sibbes says on page 10, "The consciousness of the church's weakness makes her willing to lean on her beloved, and to hid herself under his wing". If that statement is true, what can be said about the modern church? Are we conscious of our sin? Would you say that the church is willing to lean on her beloved? Are she hiding herself under his wing? What are your thoughts on this?

Pearls and Diamonds:

"Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God..."(p.7)

"Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan's counsel." (p.9)

"No sound, whole soul shall ever enter into heaven." (p.10)

"The consciousness of the church's weakness makes her willing to lean on her beloved, and to hid herself under his wing". (p.10)

"There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us..." (p. 13)

"It is better to go bruised to heaven than sound to hell." (p. 13)

"A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope." (p. 14)


  1. Without such a big view of Christ's mercy, surely such a realistic reckoning of our sin would crush us; praise God for His great mercy, the Good Shepherd.

    As far as the discussion question, my initial answer is 'no,' the church isn't conscious of our weakness...at least American churches viewed from the public eye (Christian radio, TV, interviews, etc.), but I'm not sure how accurate a gauge that is. It seems unhelpful a discussion to have answering, "Is the modern church actively conscious of her sin so that she might more completely lean upon her beloved?" We could find a million different ways to say yes - and I think many would say this. Instead, it might be more helpful to answer, "how do we, by God's grace, move people to view their sin in such a way that enlarges their view of the cross?"
    I wonder if it doesn't involve broadening and deepening their view of God by more precisely applying His word to their lives. Thanks for the Sibbes summary, Mike; it's an encouraging, uplifting, and no doubt a little quicker read than Mr. Sibbes himself. :)

  2. Amen, thank you will for writing the question better than I. You are asking what I was trying to, but for the life of me could not figure out how. Thank you for putting our thoughts and efforts toward a better question!

    Also, thanks for letting Nikki and I borrow your wife. What a wonderful servant...it's helping Nik get caught up on sleep. Thanks a ton, bro!

  3. Thanks for the great insight!
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