“It’s Not Supposed to Be Like This!”

Walking in downtown Austin this morning I saw an elderly homeless woman storm from a bus and slam her bag of belongings onto the bus stop bench.  She was hysterical, angry, and violent.  There had been some sort of disturbance on the bus and in a tearful rage, she dumped her meager belongings onto the sidewalk, slinging her bag around as she screamed obscenities.

I don’t know how this lady, created in God’s image, ended up in her current situation, But it was heart-wrenching to watch.  It was a combination of humiliation, rage, and despair.  I tried to say something to comfort her, but she was violently lashing out at everyone around her at that point.

As I walked back to my office, I couldn’t help but think…

We’re surrounded by the brokenness every day; at school, at work. We see the jealousy, strife, lust, greed, hate, fear, sickness, sadness. Something deep inside of us wants to explode,

“It’s not supposed to be like this!”

And at one time, it wasn’t:

We know that God created man in His image, and that man was in personal communion with God. And then.. the fall.   We know that, most of us. We get that.  And someday? Heaven. We get that too, but that’s personal, and later. You know, “in the sweet by and by.”

What about now? What about the brokenness we see around us every day?

“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.” – Rev 21

Making all things new. Get that. He didn’t say, “I’m making all new things.” What is now will be, and be made new. It’s story of complete redemption. Created, fallen, and in a state of being made new.  The homeless lady I saw this afternoon with the broken mind, the hospital beds at St. Jude’s full of children with broken bodies, and those with broken hearts… the entire world.  This world isn’t temporary, it’s eternal. The only thing temporary is the brokenness; The tears, the death, the mourning, the crying, and the pain.

The greek here is crystal clear on this point; καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα.  The adjective here is καινός and not νέος.  What does that mean? It means that what exists now is being redeemed, and being renewed. It’s not going away and replaced with “new stuff”.  All of creation is in a state of redemption. Someday Jesus will return to establish His kingdom, and all will be as it should be, as it was before. But until then? Until then, it’s broken.  The brokenness will remain until then. Jesus came into the world He created as perfect and saw the brokenness…

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:35-36 ESV

There are times that the original Greek differs from our English like HD to black and white TV.  This is one of those passages. As Jesus, the creator of the universe, walks as a man through His own creation, he sees the people. He sees and heals their disease and affliction. He saw the crowds and “had compassion for them”.  What an understatement.  This wasn’t pity. This wasn’t a mere wishing they were better, this was an aching, gut-wrench.  The only times this word is used in scripture are from Jesus to crowds, or examples of His love, like the Good Samaritan or the Father of the Prodigal Son. It’s never used by anyone but the authors of the synoptic gospels. Pure speculation on my part, but I think that’s because you need a view of the fullness of Christ to get even a glimpse of this ache caused by seeing how broken the world is, this “ἐσπλαγχνίσθη” compassion.

Jesus sees the brokenness of His creation, knowing it’s going to be made new someday, and it grieved Him to see the people in their current state.

Jesus response?

He begins the assault on this brokenness in a most unusual way: In the very next verses, he calls the Twelve Apostles. He trains them during the years of His earthly ministry, preparing them for the work ahead.  And, in Matthew 28, He prepares them to continue the work after He departs.  Imagine that; the creator of the universe lays out the means by which all things would be made new. What could such important work consist of? How complex? How powerful would we expect it to be for the greatest of all rescue missions? Great plans, great battles, great means!

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 18-20

Unbelievable.  In what one would expect to be the most powerful “pep talk” of all time, Jesus lays it out:

1. All authority has been given to Me (Jesus).

2. So, preach the gospel and administer the sacraments.

3. I’m with you always.

The means by which the creator of the universe would reach the end of making all things new?  The “foolishness” of the gospel, and the sacrements.  It makes no sense as I see the brokenness of this world, but the King who became a servant, who chose the cross of Calvary to the thrones of Earth when offered by Satan and fawning crowds, has chosen the simple means of the gospel and sacraments to reach the ends of making all things new.

So? So, until the day that He makes all things new, I’m charged with spreading this good news, that someday this brokenness will end for those who are in Christ. And that is good news indeed.  It is my privilege to proclaim the message which Isaiah wrote, which Jesus spoke, and which Luke recorded:

Jesus has defeated Satan, sin, and the grave.  He has come to set the captives free. One day, death will die, tears will be wiped from every eye, and there will be no sickness.  All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  How great a savior!

So with that, we will wake up tomorrow, again, in a broken world. But we live with the promise that all things will be made new and the call to tell the prisoners that they’ve been set free. And that is the hope of the resurrection. That, is the only bastion of hope in this broken world.