Your mom and I have spent a good deal of time debating about what to name you. We both agreed to give you my middle name which is the same as your granddad’s, the maiden name of your great-grandmother – Scott. Our last name is a reminder of the connection that we share with our family as a whole. Growing up, however, my middle name had always reminded me of the connection I have specifically to my dad.
I had a whole list of first names ready to give to you, names of various faithful men in history who you could look to for inspiration and example throughout your life. But your mom really did not like any of them.
Then one night your mom had a dream that your name was Reid/Reed. I mentioned that I liked how it sounded but that the name really had no solid meaning that would convince me to give it to you. Names are important. It is part of our identity. It was Adam and Eve’s duty to name the animals in the garden – showing that they exercised dominion, care and stewardship that came from God over the animals. Throughout biblical history, parents named their children with important names that represented periods of their lives, events, or characteristics. Often times, the name represented the person quite well. For that reason, I wanted you to have a name that had meaning – a name you could look to as a reminder of who God is and what he has called you to be.
On Good Friday of this year a passage was read – a prophecy from Isaiah concerning Jesus:
““Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
This passage reminds us that Jesus is God’s anointed King who will proclaim justice and victory to the whole world. But this King does not come as we fleshly minded folk would suppose – “with swords loud clashing” – at least not yet. He comes with no quarreling or loud cries. This King is meek, he is patient, and he is gentle. He will not break the bruised reed – the weary and broken sinner. He will not quench the smoldering wick – the one who is struggling to burn bright. And yet, it is not as if these traits are somehow lacking in masculinity or strength; for this is the one who will proclaim and bring about justice. His meekness is his strength. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus identifies with the weak and weary, the heavy laden. He corrects them with a firm yet gentle hand. And in him will the Gentiles hope. The world will hope in Christ. The outsider will hope in Christ. For he is their righteousness. He is their King who will lead them to justice and victory.
Hearing this passage, I was reminded of my own weakness. This season of your being in your mothers womb has been one of great trial for our family. Not that we have suffered greatly – we haven’t. To the contrary, we have been enormously blessed. But it has been a time of weary learning. We have learned of our inadequacies as parents, spouses, and Christians. Almost every night I have found myself kneeling at your sister’s bedside and brought to utter humility as I consider the ways in which I have failed to rightly image Christ as a husband and father, and how my failings might affect our family. But than I am reminded from this passage that Christ is our hope. I am a bruised reed and a flickering wick, all from my own sin and failings. Christ is the gentle King who has come to lift us with his mighty hand.
After this prophecy we read another passage from the book of Matthew:
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
I am not sure about a Roman battalion, but the typical Marine Corps battalion consists of hundreds of men. And so here we have the King of kings, Lord of lords, brought into a rulers headquarters, standing before hundreds of men, and they mock and beat him. These men, men that the King could crush without lifting a finger, are to be bowing their knees to him and giving him praise. But instead they treat him like scum of the earth. They fashion together a kings outfit in order to place it on him and mock him. They place a reed in his right hand, to mock him for the rod with which it is said he would rule the nations. And they proceed to spit on him, taking the reed – his scepter – and striking him across the head.
The reality is that this should be us. Christ should be exalted and we should be made low. And yet Christ identifies with us. He takes on our identity in order that we might receive his own, as righteous sons of God.
It was then that I realized that the name ‘Reed’ had great significance attached to it. It is to be to you a reminder of your (our) lowliness, weakness, and inadequacy. That you are a bruised reed in need of the gentle savior’s aid. It is to be a reminder of the fact that he identifies with your weakness. That he was bruised for you, mocked for you, and beaten with his own scepter for you and for his Church. And these truths are to be a reminder to you that he does not now hold a reed and wear a crown of thorns. But he holds an iron scepter with which he will rule the nations, nations that will crown him and serve him as King, and enjoy the fruit of his resurrection and Law.