The Fierce Tenderness of Jesus

The Fierce Tenderness of Jesus

I have had a terrible migraine for three days now. I have had two bad ones this year and I am grateful I made it to May without any other truly terrible ones. A good friend of mine gave me the following verse from Matthew 12:20 nearly 15 years ago when I was going through some struggle. It is one of those verses about Jesus that has never left me.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.”

The tenderness of Christ when we are hurting is so incredibly beautiful. There are songs that we sing about the man of sorrows and we sing them to remind us that he loves us in the midst of our valleys. He loves us and sympathizes with us as we went through valleys while he walked the Earth. Often when Jesus is picture in our society and our churches it is often filtered through the imagery of the suffering servant of Isaiah. The passage above quoted by Matthew is a quote from Isaiah. Isaiah foretold of a suffering servant that would be incredibly tender to his wayward people. Matthew tells in this passage and his Gospel how Jesus fulfilled this promise in his first advent. Yet, this is not the first picture we have of Jesus in the Bible. The first images of Jesus characterize his fierceness and strength.

C.S. Lewis catches this understanding of Jesus when he writes of Lucy first hearing about Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She wonders about how it will be to meet Aslan the Lion. She is a bit terrified about the idea of meeting a lion. She asks is he safe? Mr. Beaver reply gives us the first implication of what Aslan is like.

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Ain Vares the Lion
Ain Vares the Lion painted during a worship service.

Jesus is introduced to us early in Scripture as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This early picture of Jesus is that he is fierce like a lion. There is nothing safe that is to say trivial about coming into the presence of Jesus. The  disciples compared Jesus to the fierce prophets of the Old Testament when asked who they thought he was like. The men that walked with him and those that saw him knew that Jesus was a very bold and strong person. The Bible tells us in both testaments that Jesus is incredulously powerful yet he is also graciously tender. He is not safe but he is good. Jesus is the good King that is fierce even in his tenderness.

Often when I suffer for extended periods of time and the circumstances of life seem unbearable then I look to the triumphant King and His fierce tenderness and I find comfort in Jesus while suffering. This is how I yield to Jesus and allow him even in hardship to bow to my King’s care. I repeat the verse above and allow Jesus to still me restless soul. Jesus will neither allow me to break or allow me to be quenched. He’s the King, I tell you that neither breaks nor discards the broken nor quenches that which others would too quickly extinguish.

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