On 3 December 1967 Chris Barnard undertook the world’s first transplant operation of a human heart. The patient, Louis Washkansky, was a 54-year-old grocer. He survived the operation for 18 days. In 1971 Barnard did a heart transplant on Dirk van Zyl who lived for more than 23 years with his new heart. Worldwide, about 3500 heart transplants are performed each year.
In the Bible the word “heart” is used 842 times. Apart from a few exceptions, it refers to something like the essence of a human being, his soul, how he thinks. It becomes clear from the following: Guard your heart more than any treasure, for it is the source of all life (Prov. 4:23). A good man gives out good – from the goodness stored in his heart; a bad man gives out evil – from his store of evil (Matt. 12:35).
God asks that we search for Him with all our heart: You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jer. 29:13). With “all our heart” is meant that our search for God does not merely remain lip service: And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me (Is. 29:13). In the summary of the 10 Commandments Jesus says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment (Matt. 22:37 – 38).
The Bible also speaks of a “heart transplant”. The prophet Ezekiel spoke the following words of God 600 years before the arrival of Jesus: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God (Ezek. 36:26 – 28)
Jesus said: “No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again. …no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3 – 5). Here Jesus not only talks about a “heart transplant” in order to see the kingdom of God, but of the “birth” of a completely new person through the Spirit of God; a person who will bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control (Gal. 5:22 – 23). Paul said: Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Our heavenly Father, I pray that your Spirit will change me to become a new person to do your will to your glory. Amen.