Matthew 27:29 – And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" (NASB)
Until recently, I hadn't given much thought to the reed (or mock sceptre) that was placed in Jesus' hand by His enemies on the day of His execution. But as part of my Lenten devotions, I read an interesting section about the reed in the hand of Jesus from an 1879 book, The Mystery of the Crown of Thorns. I discovered that in light of the passion story, the reed, as well as the spiked crown, were much more significant than I had realized.
By definition, a reed is a tall, slender-leaved plant of the grass family with a hollow, jointed stalk that grows in water or on marshy ground. Although stronger ones were sometimes used for light walking canes, often the Bible speaks of a reed as symbolic of the frailty of our human condition.
Luke 7:24b – What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (NASB)
Isaiah 42:3 – He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. (NLT)
One of the gospel writers indicated that this Isaiah passage was fulfilled in Christ. It reveals the Lord's tender heart, caring for a bruised reed such as you or me. Thus, in His hand, a reed is no longer an image of shame and weakness, but of power and grace.
Part of the section from the book that I referred to says the following:
- But since our Blessed Lord took this reed in His hand it has been completely changed; its hollowness has been filled with the solidity of His grace and love. In the hand of our Savior we become firmer and stronger than the cedars of Lebanon. Through faith and confidence in Him we can resist the most violent temptations of Hell and the fiercest storms of human persecutions.
Consequently, a mock sceptre, once an object of ridicule and hate, has now become a beautiful symbol of faith. Therefore, let us contemplate what it means to us personally and how it might renew our hope that God is gently holding us in the palm of His hand.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, according to Your Word, by Your wounds we are healed. Like a reed that is firmly planted in Your hand, keep us secure in faith and in love. Turn our weakness into strength, our sadness into joy, and our sins into acts of righteousness, for Your name's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.