Tag Archives: Messiah

What to Do with a Broken Heart

Whoever coined the expression, “brokenhearted,”  got it right. In times of deep sorrow it really does seem that our hearts have been broken beyond repair.  We can feel the broken pieces, like shards of pottery.  Brokenhearted is more than just being temporarily sad. Deeper and more permanent, brokenhearted has lost hope. What is done is done and there is no fixing it. The pieces cannot be mended.  If you can relate, if you are brokenhearted as you read this, my heart goes out to you.  That is another expression for,  “I can identify with how painful it is for you right now” and “I would like to touch your heart with my own, if such a thing was possible.”  Some people come close in a very comforting way.  It’s a special gift.  But they cannot truly fix a broken heart.

Which makes these lines from Isaiah especially meaningful.  By quoting these words at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah:  

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,… ”  –   (Isaiah 61:1a)

If you ask, “When God sent Jesus, what was He supposed to do?” I suspect not many people would include fixing broken hearts in the list.  And yet, it was the nearly the first identifying mark of the Messiah – binding up the pieces of broken hearts, restoring hope, healing a pain that could not be wished away.  How could anyone, even the Messiah, accomplish such a seemingly impossible task?  Here is another quote from Isaiah:

“And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death foreverand the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”  –  (Isaiah 25:7-8)

The One Who can conquer death can certainly mend a broken heart.  Jesus proved  He was able by His resurrection.  If your heart is broken, take the pieces to Jesus.  He will bind them and heal them.  Let Him have your heart.  You will not be sorry.

What’s Your Response?

Imagine a lush banquet with copious quantities of the best of food and drink.  That’s how God symbolically described the Kingdom He would establish.  Of course His people yearned for that Kingdom to arrive, especially since He also promised to wipe away tears and banish death forever.  If you are not familiar with that prophecy, I’ll print it below.  But in Jesus’ day, they knew it and yearned for it to be fulfilled.

So, when someone mentioned the Kingdom to Jesus, and He responded with a parable about a great banquet, the small hairs on the back of their necks stood to attention.  Making it more electrifying was the “servant” in the parable, who comes to tell people the banquet is ready.  One of Isaiah’s most common expressions for God’s Messiah was “the Servant.” (e.g. See Isaiah 42:1)

Here’s how He began the parable:

… “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  (Luke 14:16b-18)

Those who had “ears to hear” sensed that Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah-Servant, sent by God to announce the Kingdom, proclaiming “everything is now ready.”  The tragedy was that most of those who had been waiting and yearning for that announcement then decided that the busyness of their regular lives was more pressing and important than the opportunity to join God in His Kingdom for eternal life.

Don’t compound the tragedy; Jesus still speaks those same words of invitation to each of us today.  “Come, for everything is now ready.”  What is your response?  Are you wanting to be excused?  Consider carefully.

Here’s Isaiah’s prophecy:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever;and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 25:6-8)

The Mousetrap Question

Jesus did something that scared the living daylights out of His critics.  Do you know how?  Was it with a startling miracle?  A demonstration of mighty power?  Neither.  He did it with a question!  Jesus asked a question that frightened them and shut them up for good.  Like all good mousetraps, Jesus’ question seemed safe and simple at first.

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied.” (Matthew 22:41-42)

This looked like an easy volleyball lob for a return spike.  These guys were experts on the Scripture.  They knew all the answers.  And this one was easy.   They all knew that the Christ would be the son, or the descendant, of David.  You can almost see the cynical and triumphant look on their faces as they easily answered Jesus’ question.

But then Jesus’ trap was sprung!

“He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. “ (Matthew 22:43-46 – my emphases)

Whap!!!   Question is, what was it about this seemingly innocuous exchange that was so frightening to them?  Maybe this:

  • These self-proclaimed experts in the Scripture suddenly saw that there is more going on in God’s Word than they understood.  They didn’t know all the answers.  The Scriptures were written from God’s vantage point, not the limited and comparatively ignorant vantage point of humans.  To be confronted with this is humbling and frightening.  Especially for “scholars.”
  • Jesus trusted the actual words written in the Bible.  He didn’t pick and choose, as they did, according to what seemed right.  He accepted the words as they were written, even when those words didn’t conform with human, common sense.
  • Jesus knew that when the Scriptures were written, the human authors were “speaking by the Spirit” of God.
  • Because they could not refute what He said, the Pharisees began to suspect that the One with whom they were speaking was:
    • The Lord
    • The Messiah or Christ
    • Qualified to sit at the right hand of God
    • Would ultimately dominate all His enemies

When the rug is pulled out from under the things we think we know, it can be very scary.  Even more so when you cannot explain away the new insights.  The smart thing to do, despite your fear, is to re-evaluate your assumptions, looking carefully and thoughtfully into the things that have frightened you.  Such as what it says in the Bible.  That’s not what Jesus’ critics did.  They decided to kill Him.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Ancient Resonance

If you hear the phrase “unalienable rights,” you automatically think back 238 years to a line in the Declaration of Independence.  Only 238 years because our nation is in its infancy.  Compare that to this timeline:

3850 years ago –  Jacob gave a mysterious prophecy over his son, Jacob, saying his descendants would rule over the rest of Israel…

“… until he comes to whom it [the royal scepter, the symbol of kingly authority] belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; …” (Genesis 49:10b-11a, – my added explanation)

2700 years ago – Isaiah added this prophecy about the promised Messiah/King:

“The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’ ”” (Isaiah 62:11)

2500 years ago – Zechariah continued this prophetic theme:

” Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

Perhaps a bit later? – An unknown Psalmist, yearning for the coming King/Savior, wrote:

“O Lord, save us [this is the word, “Hosanna!”]; O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.” (Psalm 118:25-27 – my added explanation)

2000 years ago – In Jesus’ day, these and many other prophetic Scriptures were well known.  There was a widespread, growing expectation that someone, perhaps even Jesus, would soon be revealed as the promised King and Savior.  The air crackled with anticipation.  As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem for the final time, He instructed them to bring Him a colt of a donkey.   Getting on this colt, Jesus began to ride toward the gates of the city.  Those ancient prophecies came to life and began to resonate together.  Matthew wrote:

“This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”” (Matthew 21:4-5)

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”” (Matthew 21:8-9)

It is likely that Matthew’s words were read by people who had been in that crowd, who perhaps had been swept away by the excitement of the crowd and who had not fully understood the significance of what was happening.  Jesus was identifying Himself to those who could make the connection, who could see how His actions resonated with the ancient prophecies.

The record is still there in black and white for anyone who wants to make the connection today.  The ancient words still resonate for those who listen.

Quotes:  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.