Have you ever been bullied? I have. In the sixth grade. At that time, we had a student in our class who had obviously failed a few grades already. Most of us were still skinny and scrawny but this guy looked like a prize fighter, towering over us with an intimidating scowl.
Nobody likes a bully. They push you. Shove you. Mock you. Even chase you. I remember one time being chased all the way back to my house. I ran up the steep steps to our row house, opened the door, and quickly shut it behind me. I could feel my heart beating in my mouth.
Eventually I grew up and got bigger and after the sixth grade, I don’t remember ever experiencing a bully again. But that was enough for me to taste how bitter bullies really are.
It’s bad enough to be bullied by someone you don’t really know. Someone you don’t particularly care for. But to be mocked and jeered by those whom you love—that’s a deeper pain. Maybe even the deepest there is to have.
Jesus came to bring salvation to His own yet His own rejected Him. They stripped Him, robed Him in scarlet, stuck a crown of thorns onto His head, knelt down before Him and mocked Him. They spat on Him. They beat Him with a reed. This is the same reed they had given Him moments before to make fun of Him with a reed they stuck in His right hand as if it were a scepter. When I examine the Scripture about the crucifixion, I keep getting stuck on the word “reed,” and what they did with it. It says, “They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” (Matthew 27:30) They beat Jesus with a reed. Yet this isn’t the first time a reed shows up in the Bible.
In Isaiah, it talks about another reed. This time it’s a bruised reed, not a mocking one. The bruised reed in this passage stands for those of us who have been hurt. Bullied. Broken. And are bent. The verse speaks of God’s faithfulness to those who may have been harassed by life’s scenarios and circumstances. By people, even. Perhaps a hurtful mate. A parent. Relative. Co-worker. Someone that you had at one time trusted. It says, “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3)
How ironic that the One who came to bring justice to the bruised reeds in life received unjust mocking by the same. He who would cusp the wilted reed in His hand and nurture it back gently to health and strength stood bloodied, beaten, and mocked by those He came to save. And yet He said nothing in return. They led Him as a sheep to the slaughter even though He was the true king on the cross.
I can’t imagine saying nothing. Can you? I can’t imagine possessing more power than those bullying you but refusing to use it. I know what it’s like to run from the bully in the sixth grade because he was bigger than me. He was stronger than me. But nails didn’t hold Christ to the cross. He did. Love did. A love that looked down beneath Him as he hung there bruised and saw the reed, now discarded on the ground. And in that reed—the same one used to mock Him, he saw the salvation He was securing for you and me.
Satan might be the biggest bully ever but he didn’t defeat Jesus. Jesus battled this bully, and won when He gave His life willingly so that He could be raised from the dead and thus offer those who believe the free gift of salvation.