We throw away things that are broken. Furniture, appliances, precious objects and even relationships – once they are broken, we give them up and throw them away.
We condemn the broken. We see them as of no value and not worth repairing. So we throw them into the rubbish heap.
But not the Japanese. They have an art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold. They treat breakage as part of the history of the object and sought to repair it rather than hide it. The result is the broken object is made beautiful and appreciated with greater value.
This Japanese art form is called “kintsukuroi” meaning, “to repair with gold.”
The Bible is full of “human kintsukuroi” – people whose lives are broken but repaired not with gold but with grace.
Let me highlight a few of such stories.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector (Luke 10:1-9). The money collected he gave to the hated oppressor, the Romans. The extras he kept for himself. That how he became very rich. Everyone saw him as a crook. He was despised. He had no friends. He was very lonely. He was a broken man.
One day he saw a crowd of people welcoming Jesus. He climbed up a tree to see Jesus. To his great surprise Jesus stopped by the tree and said, “Zacchaeus!” Come down from there! I must stay at your house today!” (That is as good as saying, “I want to mend your broken life today!”)
Zacchaeus must have thought, “How does Jesus know my name?” God knows our names. Jesus does. He knows the names of the 47 people who died at the bomb blast in Egypt. He told us not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge (Matthew 10:29).
What stunned Zacchaeus even more was the fact that Jesus wanted to spend time with him.
But the crowd were not so happy. They murmured – “This man cheats and steals from his own people! He doesn’t deserve Jesus!”
Zacchaeus must have heard what the people were saying about him. So he said, “Listen! I will give half of everything I have to the poor! And if I cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times as much!”
Jesus said, “Today, salvation has come to this house!”
Paraphrased that means, “A broken vessel is now made whole and showing it by making restitution.”
The Samaritan woman was a broken woman (John 4:1-26).
She is a five-time divorcée. Her married life was broken five times by five men. She had five rejections. She knows what it means to love and receive no love in return.
Even worse people deemed her a loose woman. Gossips went –
“Have you heard? She’s got another man. They say she would sleep with anyone.”
It is why she came to draw water from the well only in the heat of the noon sun when no one is around. Other women come to the well at cool of the sunrise. But for her, it is easier to endure the heat of the sun than the heat of scorn.
She was so broken. Jesus came for people like her. In fact Jesus was waiting for her at the well to offer her Living Water.
The Samaritan woman was amazed Jesus knew everything about her. She thought Jesus would be angry. She thought Jesus would deem her worthless. She thought Jesus would just get up and leave. But Jesus didn’t. Instead she saw an inexplicable grace in Jesus.
Suddenly the shame of her tattered marriages disappeared. Suddenly the pain of rejections vanished. Suddenly her brokenness was glazed over by her awareness – “The Messiah has come! God is here! This Jesus cares … for me!”
In the excitement of her discovery she forgot her water jar and ran to tell everyone in the city.
The broken vessel became a precious vessel, an unlikely evangelist that brought an entire city to Christ.
Then there was the penitent thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)
He was a man whose life was broken by wrong choices, wrong company and wrong values. Yet it was never too late for God to restore his brokenness.
With his dying breath he prayed for mercy and asked Jesus to remember him in the new kingdom. Jesus heard that prayer and said, “Today, you shall be with me in paradise.”
In that instant he was heaven-bound. The broken was made beautiful smiling in paradise.
It proves what Jesus said about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). As he was walking home, rehearsing what he was going to say, his father saw him and ran towards him. Even before he could say “I am not worthy to be called your son,” his father put on him a new robe, a ring and sandals – signifying his full restoration.
Jesus told this parable to tell us the broken can be restored again.
He restored the prodigal daughter caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-12). Men dragged her before Jesus demanding she be stoned.
And Jesus the only one qualified to stone her said, “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.”
One by one the accusers dropped their rocks and left. And Jesus said, “Has no one condemned you? … Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Here is a vessel broken by moral failure, shame and abuse. Jesus restored her not by temporary earthly gold but by permanent divine grace to give her a new beginning.
Story after story we see the broken made beautiful.
We all have cracks in our lives caused by sin, shame, pain, guilt and misery. But we can take heart for Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18)
The broken can be restored and made beautiful.