The first human heart transplant occurred late in 1967. A middle-aged man dying from heart disease received the heart of a young woman fatally injured in an auto accident. Following the transplant, the man received drugs to minimize the likelihood of heart rejection. However, these drugs also suppressed his immune system. As a result, he died 18 days later from pneumonia. Yet, his new heart functioned normally until he died.
We have had a heart transplant of sorts. It is Ezekiel who provides the details. To the dispirited exiles in Babylon, he writes, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
The heart that Ezekiel describes is not an 11-ounce muscular organ to pump blood. It is our spiritual heart.
Our spiritual heart is fascinating. By nature, it is unyielding and unforgiving. Through faith, God makes it compassionate and merciful.
On our own, our hearts would never change. They would remain sinful. Only through baptism are these hearts no longer ours. They become new hearts with new spirits. God removes the stony, unforgiving heart and transplants a heart of faith to love and live for Christ.
God truly makes us new. In Christ, we are new people with new hearts of compassion and mercy. Paul concurs saying, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We may never experience a physical heart transplant. Yet, through baptism, the Lord transplants a heart—a spiritual heart—that lives by faith to love and serve him.
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran.