2/10/19 – Bind up the brokenhearted

Posted on : Feb 7th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

When I was planning this winter’s sermon series on Jesus’ self-awareness of his life’s purpose and mission, I didn’t notice that the writer of the Gospel of Luke omitted one of the mission directives from the prophet Isaiah.  The one that is missing is “The Spirit of God is upon me because God has anointed me to bind up the brokenhearted.”  So, I added it to our series because I think it should have been included.  I also didn’t realize I had calendared it for the Sunday before Valentine’s Day!  All of which means the Holy Spirit must be at work here!

Anyone who has ever loved knows what it is to have a broken heart.   It doesn’t matter if it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse or a partner, a parent or a child, a pet or just something you love deeply.  When a relationship ends, or a loved one dies, or someone hurts you, you may experience a broken heart. 

Medical professionals now recognize an actual syndrome called death from a broken heart.  Like all contemporary diagnostics, it’s complicated; but basically what is known is that sometimes the shock and grief from a broken heart is so intense that it causes the human heart to cease functioning. 

Though we use the phrase, “a broken heart” quite often, the concept of a broken heart is really rooted in antiquity.  Today, we know the heart to be a very important organ of the body, but we know it is a muscle, not the center of emotion.  In the ancient world the heart was thought to be the place where the soul of the person resided.  It was more than just the center of emotion, it was the emotional and spiritual center of the person.  

A number of years ago on a trip to Rome, I toured some of the ancient burial crypts that have been excavated underneath what is now the city of Rome.  In one crypt there were rows of small urns sitting on a ledge.  Our tour guide was teasing us about these small marble urns and why they would be in a burial crypt.  No one in our group could figure out what was buried in them.  Finally, our guide told us that each urn had a human heart placed in it.  The heart was considered to be the essence of the person, so upon a person’s death, their heart was removed and placed in an urn.  The rest of the body was buried or cremated.  It wasn’t important.  Just the heart was. 

That is probably how Isaiah and Jesus thought of “the heart.”  To them, it was the essence and soul of who we are.  But Isaiah and Jesus also knew that our hearts could be broken, and saw as part of their life’s purpose, “to bind up the brokenhearted.”  Some contemporary translations use the words “to heal the brokenhearted.”  There is a big difference between “healing” and “binding up.” I think Jesus meant “binding up the brokenhearted.”

No one can actually heal someone else’s broken heart, but we can as individuals and as a community “bind up” those who are broken hearted so they can heal themselves.  We don’t use the word “bind” as often as we once did, probably because we no longer “bind” books.  Before we had e-readers and e-books, we had a bunch of lose pages that were bound together to make a book.  Binding was used to keep the pages together.  Without it, if you dropped the book, the pages scattered everywhere.  Binding kept them together.

Jesus’ life purpose and mission was to keep us together, to bind us together when we are falling apart.  To put the pages back in order when our life story is totally messed up.  To bind us up so that we can ultimately rebuild, restore and renew.  Quite a mission, isn’t it? 



Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sovereign God is on me,
because God has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the God’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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