CONTRITE HEART – BAPTISM
Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says- he who lives for ever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Comment: The God who lives in the highest heaven, who occupies the vast spaces of cosmos, has the condescending ability to live in the confines of the human mind.
CONTRITE AND LOWLY SPIRIT
This verse tells us that contrition and repentance are the two essential qualifications for acceptance with God.
He will not accept you if you lack these two qualifications.
What is the meaning of contrition and what is the meaning of a lowly spirit?
The Hebrew word for contrition is DAKA. It means bruised. The dictionary says contrition is repentance, a deep and genuine feeling of guilt and remorse.
The Thesaurus has this to say of contrition: shame over past sins: a deep sense of shame over past sins and a firm resolve not to sin in future
Amplified Bible explains contrition as follows:
“Bruised with sorrow for sin.”
Let me explain it this way: When I have hurt you and it starts hurting me, and I am feeling sorry about it, I am revealing a contrite spirit. When I tell you that I am sorry for the pain I caused you, I reveal contrite spirit.
We cannot generate contrition, a feeling of sorrow for the wrong things we did.
A contrite heart is a gift of God. He does this for the sinner if the sinner does not resist God in this work of contrition.
ISAIAH 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says, he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Jesaja 57:15 Ek woon in die hoogte en in die heilige plek en by die verbryselde en nederige van gees, om te laat herlewe die gees van die nederiges en te laat herlewe die hart van die verbryseldes.
LOWLY IN SPIRIT
The God whose glory fills the universe seeks permission from contrite sinners to live in the narrow space of their hearts.
But there is another condition apart from a contrite heart and that is lowliness of spirit.
This is what the dictionary says about lowliness:
1. Low in status: low in rank, status, or importance
2. Meek: with a meek and humble way of behaving
3. Simple and modest: simple, plain, and modest in character
4. In meek way: in a humble or meek way
5. At low volume: at a subdued pitch or volume
CONTRITION says: “I am sorry. I have sinned.”
HUMILITY says: “I have made a mistake. I have been stripped of my pride. I am aware of the fact that there is nothing I can do to earn God’s favour and His salvation.”
Only a contrite and humble sinner respond to the call of Jesus in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus invites the sinner and says:
“Come to Me with your sense of guilt and shame lost-ness; come to Me with your feeling of helplessness to earn my salvation and I will receive you and hold you close to my loving, forgiving and understanding heart.”
God wants to strip us from spiritual pride and spoil us with the luxury of His forgiving grace.
ROCK OF AGES
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s demands.
Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow; All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless look to Thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me Saviour or I die.
I qualify not with some good deed but rather with my dire spiritual need of God’s salvation.
This is a challenge to my sinful human nature that wants to earn divine credit.
Contrition prepares the way for justification, as humility does for sanctification. God can do little for the man who does not feel a keen sense of his own need and who does not reach out for power from above.
JESUS FIRST SABBATH SERMON
When you visit Nazareth, the guide will take you to an ancient Jewish synagogue. According to tradition this was the place where Jesus worshipped on a Sabbath.
Every time I visit here, my thoughts go back to a specific Sabbath when Jesus preached in this synagogue.
Let’s read it:
Luke 4:16,17 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
According to some scholars, this specific year was the jubilee year, the 50th year.
Slaves were set free, forfeited property reverted back to their original owners and debts were cancelled. With all this in mind, Jesus began His sermon:
Verses 18,19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Good news to the poor.
These are the people who feel their need of a Saviour. These are the people who feel utterly lost.
Jesus has good news for them.
Proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
It is possible for prisoners to escape from ordinary prisons. It is impossible for sinners to escape from the prison house of chronic pain, from chronic guilt feelings.
It is impossible for sinners to escape from the prison of addiction.
The words of Jesus spoken on that specific Jubilee Year, echoes down the corridors of times.
“Sinner. I have the power to set you free. Please allow Me to do it for you.”
Recovery of sight for the blind
At times it is so hard to see my own faults. At times it is so hard to see the good characteristics of my enemies. At times hatred makes me blind.
Jesus offers sight for my blindness. He wants to turn my night of misery into the daylight of kindness.
To release the oppressed
No matter what oppresses you and me, Jesus can bring relief. This was His message while He was on earth. This is still His message today.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
When the first Adam sinned, mankind lost favour with God.
And then a second Adam came. Where the first Adam failed, He succeeded.
Where the first Adam yielded to temptation, the second Adam overcame appetite.
On that specific Sabbath Jesus proclaimed the Jubilee year of God’s favour for all who wants to accept it.
I want to congratulate those who accepted God’s Jubilee of favour.
During baptism we celebrate God’s greatest gift to mankind – His Son Jesus Christ. There is no better news; there is no greater joy.
Millions of people are living without meaning, without hope. Tell them about Jesus who forgives the sins of sinners.
Tell them about Jesus who longs to have a meaningful relationship with lost sinners.
Tell them that Jesus is coming soon to take us home with Him.
Never loose your contrite spirit – never loose your lowly, humble spirit. May your hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness increase as you grow older.
May your dependence on God grow faster than the multiplication of your problems and afflictions.