conversion: the heart transplanted


        But alongside the picture of circumcision is the
image of heart transplantation.  God’s frustration with hearts that
don’t pump for him, but bleed for other gods, catalyzes him to perform
radical surgery. In Ezekiel 11:19-20 and also 36:26, for instance, God
promises to give his people a heart that works forever.  He will remove
the calloused heart of stone, blocked by corrosion, and provide and
install an “undivided heart” made of new flesh.  In doing so, God will
enable a person to breath in relationship with God.  Ezekiel 18:31 says
that people must rid themselves of their offenses and receive a new
heart from God.   
        The passage makes it clear that God
does not enjoy the death of a sinner, so he gives an invitation to
repentance so that an eternal life can be given.If the metaphor of a
new heart is carried further, it is clear that in order for a
transplant to be performed, a donor heart is necessary.  So it is that
the Old Testament looks forward to the death of Jesus.  After all, the
only compatible heart capable restarting our lives and defeating the
onset of the disease of sin is the Savior’s heart.  For when the sinful
human heart is removed and transplanted with the heart of Jesus,
conversion and salvation are supplied for the recipient of God’s
gracious sacrifice.
        A new heart is the metaphor of rebirth, a new
life born from above, given by God so that people may have everlasting
life.  This image is in the mind of the psalmist who cries for God to
create in him a clean heart and to renew a steadfast spirit within him
(Ps 51:10).   This image is in the mind of the prophets urging Israel
to repent (Is 57:15; Ez 11:19).   This image is the mind of the Savior
as he prayed for the Father to forgive his people  and as he sends his
Spirit (Lk 23:34).

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