"So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up (“sunago” – “to lead together, collect or convene; specifically to accompany, assemble”) the fragments that remain (“superabound”) , so that nothing is lost (“perishes”) .’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:12-13)
When I read this I realized that the Greek words that Jesus used were conspicuous. He used words like “lead together”, “accompany”, “convene” and “perishes”. They were words that one uses to describe things we do with people, not with pieces of bread. I asked the Lord about that and He said that He was telling us about a lot more than pieces of bread. He was speaking about people….broken people.
Recently I was at a men’s meeting and one of the men blessed us by sharing his pain over some things that were happening in his life. After I prayed I stood aside and watched the body of Christ at work….clustered around one of our brothers who was down. There is hardly anything as stirring to me as a sight like that.
As I stood there praying the Lord showed me an image of that man.....and prophetically revealed what was happening in his life. I “saw” his heart on the outside of his chest and he was struggling to hold together the parts. His heart was broken.
The Lord reminded him through me that it is the Lord that binds up the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18). For now, he should just let the pieces fall and admit that he is broken and hurt.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5b-7)
We Christians are called to do quite a few things that just go with being who we are in Christ. One is to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and a big part of this is to minister to broken hearts. Another is to admit that we have broken hearts of our own. We minister to our brothers and sisters by allowing them to minister to us the healing and wholeness in Christ.
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us that God is very aware of how broken and hurt we are. (Job 17: 11; Proverb 18:14; Proverb 15:13; Proverb 17:22; Psalm 34:17-19; Psalm 51:15-17; Ezekiel 34:2-6). God has always intended to address this problem:
“I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” (Ezekiel 34:16)
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19)
How will God accomplish what He wishes for the broken and brokenhearted?
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.” (Isaiah 40: 28-30)
"But those who wait on (“qavah” – “to bind together - by twisting or winding together, collect; gather together”) the LORD shall renew (“renew, spring up, hasten, grow up”) their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”(Isaiah 40:31)
The Lord’s first plan for the binding up of broken hearts is that we would be bound to Him. Salvation is the first binding for us.
I think it is important for us to understand just how bad our situation was before we were saved. Ephesians 2:12 says that when we were lost we “were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
We had no rescue. We had no promise. We had no hope. We had no God. We were divided from Him and from all He can supply eternally. We were also divided from one another as people. It was every man for himself and we lived off what we could cause others to give us.
Not a pretty picture. Then we read further in Ephesians 2 words which are, blessedly for us Christians, in the past tense:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Ephesians 2:13-19)
When we were saved Jesus gathered us up, away from the world and placed us into an intimate relationship with Him. Just as we isolate people when they are hospitalized to deal with the trauma of an operation, we were isolated – in a way. Sometimes this is called the “honeymoon period” for a new Christian.
When salvation, the initial work of heart restoration has been done, its time for therapy….and that means getting up and spending time with someone…a minister of mobility, full range motion and the restoration of all things lost.
In other words, the Lord would have us gather together in meetings like the ones we do in homes and also intimate ones in church congregations and in relationships ordained by Him. It is His will that we would BIND together with others. Since all Christians are in Jesus, this means that He placed us into a body…..his body…..His church – so, the Lord’s second binding for us is the church. He has gathered us up into His body.
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Furthermore, as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and holy priests (1 Peter 2:9) we have an active part to play in this in establishing and participating in these relationships.
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind (“to bind up, tie, knit together”) on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (“destroy, dissolve, loosen”) on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
So, when Jesus says this in John 6:12-13
“So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.”
He is encouraging us to not allow others to sit by the wayside…being wasted…some of them drifting away forever.
Several years ago a friend of mine Stan Horton did something amazing. This Marine (by then he was working in the private sector) was on his way to Wednesday night service at the church where I served as Pastor for Prison ministries. It was a cold, wet gloomy winter’s dusk in Houston.
Stan was sitting at a stop light and noticed a homeless man scuttle along a wall and duck into a little hole in the wall of an abandoned warehouse. Stan said that he was struck at how much the behavior of the man reminded him of a rat…afraid and timid. Stan, being the bold man he is, pulled his truck to the side, parked it and went into that dark abandoned warehouse. He was going to collect a fragment.
The man was shocked when Stan found him huddled in a corner eating whatever he had found in a nearby dumpster. He asked, “What are you doing here?” to which Stan replied, “Jesus sent me in to get you.” The man agreed to let Stan buy him supper and that started a long term relationship.
Over the course of several months Stan was able to get the man to attend Wednesday night services with him and then took him into his home, got him a job and helped him get back on his feet. It turned out that the man was an engineer who lost his job when the economy went sour. Then he lost everything…and slid downhill until he landed in that old abandoned warehouse.
Recently I was visiting that congregation and saw that man. Over the years I could see that God was restoring his dignity. When I saw him that Saturday he was barely recognizable to me…so different from how he looked when he was first coming off the streets. His eyes are clear. His demeanor is confident. He has been in the workplace for several years now and is married and has 2 little girls.
He who was formerly broken is now bound to the Lord and healed.
When I first taught this at a gathering one woman there had an interesting observation. She said that it takes glass fragments to make a stained glass window, and look how beautiful that is. She also pointed out that it takes brokenness to come to the place of being fragments to put into the stained glass.
I think we are a lot like that as a body: God is assembling His church out of formerly broken people, gathered up and assembled into a beautiful mosaic. Isn’t He wonderful?
There is a third binding that God has for us – a third way that we can be gathered up unto Him.
God’s original intent in the Garden of Eden was to make us into His image – after His likeness. Because of the Fall of man we lost that but always and forever God’s intent has been to restore what was lost. God’s third binding has to do with how He has remedied that and how He IS remedying it.
In 2 Corinthians 3:2 Paul tells us what is happening to us:
“...we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The deal is that, as always, we can cooperate or we can resist. Paul tells us, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” in 1 Corinthians 11:1. What does that look like? Looking quickly at 3 passages in John we can see what that looks like.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30)
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
I believe that all Christians have the opportunity to experience a gathering in that non-Christians cannot even imagine. We have the right, given to us from God the Father, to allow His power to flow through us as we live our daily lives. The Bible calls this “walking after the Spirit.”
Jesus Himself said something amazing about what it would be like when we did that consistently:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in (entrusts Himself fully to) Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)
“Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” (John 6:12b)
Imagine that! We were fragments. Scattered….destined to perish. We were going to be wasted. Then Jesus stepped in, using Christians JUST LIKE YOU to gather us in and He continues to gather us in.
He gathers us to Himself. Are you one of those who have not yet been gathered in to Jesus. Are you lost? Perhaps He’s calling you in today. If so, when the music starts please come forward and pray with one of us and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
He gathers us to His body. Are you one of those who are born again but remains separate from the body of Christ? What would happen to your foot if that was the case for it? It would be yours but it would be separated from the life that comes from being connected to the rest of the body. Perhaps Jesus is calling you into a gathering of Christians today. If so, come pray with one of us for guidance as to where the Lord would have you be. Perhaps this is the place.
He gathers us to His life. Are you one of those who is a Christian and is connected to a body but you find yourself frustrated with how things are going or just feels empty? Perhaps the Lord is showing you depend heavily upon yourself, other people or circumstances to be ok. Maybe it’s time for you to habitually walk in dependence upon Jesus (and not just when things seem desperate.) If so, come pray with one of us for the Lord to teach you to walk after the Spirit more effectively.