“I am as useless as a broken pot.”
So said the Psalmist in a moment of weakness.
But “useless” and “broken” are not invariably linked. A broken piece of pottery may be utterly useless but a broken heart before the Lord can be a mighty weapon in His hand.
When we think of Jesus, we think often of a Garden,
- not the beautiful, useful Garden of Delights called Eden, the place of our beginning, and
- not the wonderful New Heaven and New Earth where we will walk with God once again in the cool of the day.
- The Garden we must consider is the Garden of Brokenness—Gethsemane.
Here the seeds of our redemption—our usefulness—were planted in the good soil of a Savior’s broken heart and watered there by sweat tinged with blood.
He was absolutely alone.
Abandoned by his sleeping disciples, Jesus was alone in this Garden, alone to bear on His sinless shoulders the sins of mankind. He alone could seize in his healing hands the violence done at the hands of men. His innocent heart was the only heart qualified to take in the corruption of the human heart from Eve’s first taste of forbidden fruit to the terrible taste for blood that marks a fallen humanity. Only the lips that brought to us the life-giving Word of God could now embrace the bitter cup of deception and drain it dry.
So, the strongest man who would ever live was broken, “crushed” was the prophesy of Isaiah and the report of Jesus’ words to His followers in some translations.
Crushed, broken, grieved, exceedingly sorrowful, yes. But, useless? Never.
The Drama of Redemption
For centuries ignorant animals had gone under the knives of the priests on the altars of Jehovah. In their frightened eyes there was not a glimpse of understanding of what their substitutionary death would provide the men with sharp knives wearing colorful robes, glittering with jewels. These unknowing animals filled a role in the on-going drama of redemption. Thousands of them played the part of the One Final Lamb who would come and make the Final and complete sacrifice of brokenness.
If we could have looked into His eyes…
If we could have looked into the eyes of Jesus in this garden, we would have seen no such ignorance, no empty role playing. Jesus knew what it meant.
- He had to hold back his goodness to take on our wickedness.
- He had to restrain the strength of His flawless character to submit to the corruption of a deadly mix of religion and politics.
- He allowed his humanity to be broken.
- With the kiss of a friend, the soldiers took Him away, no doubt, in chains that He could have broken.
Don’t forget the angel.
Between the prayers of Jesus and the approach of the Temple Guards, another friend touched Jesus there in the Garden—an Angel of the Lord. In spiritual ways that we cannot understand, the Angel imparted strength to Jesus for the ordeal just beginning.
Why? So that even in His broken condition, Jesus would still be powerful in spirit, useful to all of us by not only bearing our sins far away, but be winning our redemption.
In this time of voluntary brokenness, may the Lord make us useful to His purposes.
Psalm 31:12-13 NIV
I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.
Matthew 21:42-44 NIV
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Luke 22:39-44; Matthew 26:36-38 NIV
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Psalm 51:17 NIV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Lord Jesus, life can be a crushing thing. Sometimes the pressure is so great and the violence is so relentless that it seems I will be broken. Much of my trouble has been my own doing. It helps me somehow to know that You allowed life to crush You and it was not the end of the story. You took the pressure and the violence, none of it your own doing, and let life do its worst. In three days, You rose again, conqueror of death and master of life. In these days of thoughtful prayer, help me feel things more deeply, both the crushing and the rising again! Thank You, Lord! Amen.
Broken and Spilled Out
Words and Music: Bill and Gloria Gaither
Lord You were God’s precious treasure His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me The love of the Father Just for love it was done
And though You were perfect and holy You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon You were used up and wasted for me
Broken and spilled out Just for love of me Jesus
God’s most precious treasure Lavished on me
You were broken and spilled out And poured at my feet
In sweet abandon Lord You were spilled out and used up for Me
In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out And used up for Thee.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
2 thoughts on “March 2, 2017”
Steve, I am in a Bible study called Breathe by Priscilla Shirer that is teaching us to make room in our lives for the sabbath, a time of rest, whenever that might be, every day. Your page helps me do that daily. I love the imagery of your words because they create vivid pictures in my mind of what is taking place. The quotes from the Bible reinforce your words in my mind and heart. The prayer helps me lift my thoughts to God, and the hymn I can sometimes sing out loud if it’s one I have known since childhood! Thank you for giving me room to breathe for the day. God bless, Durinda
Durinda: Your comments give me room to breathe and make me want to keep writing. Thanks!