“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me … He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted …”. (Isaiah 61:1)
The Lord Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1 in Luke 4:18 regarding His own ministry. He fulfilled its prophecy Himself when He came. But what does this phrase “bind up the brokenhearted” really mean?
“Binding up the brokenhearted” was part of Jesus’ anointed ministry aim according to this passage, and since our ministries are to follow “in His steps” according to I Peter 2:21, what does it mean we are to be doing?
“Bind up” is a Hebrew word, “chabash,” which Brown, Driver & Briggs indicates means: “bind, bind on, bind up.” Exodus 29:9 uses it of the priestly headgear that was to be “bound” on Aaron and his sons, and of the turban that Ezekiel was to bind on his head (24:17). In Jonah 2:6 it is also used of the seaweeds which were wrapped around Jonah’s head. So it means to wrap something around tightly and securely. It is also used in Hosea 6:1 of wrapping a bandage around a wound. In Ezekiel 34:4 it is used of binding the broken.
The picture Isaiah uses here is of a heart that is “broken.” (BDB = “shabar” literally means “broken in pieces.”) And he says that the Messiah (Jesus) when He came would “bind” those broken hearts back together: wrap them up, bandage them; bind them back together. Psalm 147:3 says this is indeed what He does: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Many of us as God’s people have experienced this ministry of Jesus as He has healed our own broken hearts. And as His followers, we are to do the same for others. Anointed and filled with the same Holy Spirit that filled Jesus, we are to follow “in His steps” (I Peter 2:21) and do what He did: proclaim the gospel to the humble, freedom to captives — as well as “bind up the brokenhearted.” We are to help them put their hearts back together, “wrapping them back up” with love so that they may heal. Of course, we are personally unable to heal hearts at all, but we can point them to Jesus, who fulfilled this prophecy, and who still touches and heals hearts.
But we are to take our part of this ministry seriously. In fact, in one of the uses of this word in Hebrew, in Ezekiel 34:4, God criticizes the shepherds of Israel because “the broken you have not bound up.” So this is not just a ministry that we are to commend in others. Jesus came to bind up our wounded hearts — and He is serious about us being a part of doing the same thing for others in our turn.