The Smoldering Wick–A picture of those whom Jesus came to heal
In the 12th chapter of Matthew Jesus is once again confronted by the Pharisees onJesus Sabbath the issue of “working” on the Sabbath. Knowing that they were looking for a way to destroy Him, Jesus withdrew from the synagogue to another region. Everywhere He went, He drew a crowd, and this day was no exception. Many followed Him and He healed them all. But He warned the people not to spread the word about Him. Why? So that the prophecy of Isaiah may be fulfilled:

“Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
“He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
“A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
“And in His name the Gentiles will hope”
(Matthew 12:18-21)

Most of the people were attracted to Him because of His miracles, especially His healing power. They were coming to be healed of their physical ailments and diseases, but as the passage from Isaiah reveals, His primary mission as Messiah was far greater than as a physical healer.


I’d like to focus on the latter part of verse 20:

“A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out”

A better understanding of this short passage reveals a lot about Jesus’ greaterHerodian oil lamp mission. In Jesus’ day lamps were filled with oil and had a flax wick that smoldered and gave off a foul-smelling, room-filling cloud of smoke as the oil ran out. The message, however, was not about lamps. It was about people- the weak and the helpless, the lonely, the brokenhearted, and the outcasts- people whom the world discarded. The world sought to snuff out their wicks so it wouldn’t have to endure their “unpleasantness” any longer.

Jesus, on the other hand, sought out these people so He could “refill their lamps”lord of the sabbath with the oil of healing (not just physical healing). This reflects why He came: to fix what was broken. And as Lord of the Sabbath, He never missed an opportunity do just that, even on the Sabbath. He came to bring life to those who felt like they were on their last breath.

The same passage (from Isaiah) says that God’s servant (Jesus) would proclaim justice to the Gentiles (nations). The wordkingdom of god “justice” means “to establish the heavenly pattern here on earth. It implies that what has been corrupted would be restored. This reveals Jesus’ ultimate mission: to bring heaven to earth. He came to introduce mankind to the Kingdom of God. Jesus described the Kingdom in many of His parables, but a common thread runs through them all. It represents the essence of the Kingdom of God. Simply stated, it is magnified grace. Every benefit to mankind in the Kingdom is a result of God’s grace, and just when we start to grasp the magnitude of God’s grace, we discover that there’s more…a lot more.

Let’s return to the smoldering wick. Sooner or later, we’re going to identify with this image. Our oil has run out and our light has turned to smoke. We’re hurting and we don’t want anyone to touch us for fear that it will make us hurt more. This is when we need Jesus more than ever. It is during these times that He best fulfills His mission: to bring the grace-filled healing from heaven to earth. He wants to re-fill our lamps, but we must grant Him permission.

As I am writing this, my wick is smoldering. I am in desperate need of an oil refill. My prayer is that both you and I can experience the joy of having our lamps refilled by the unmerited and unmatched grace of our Lord.


A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald’s