“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. And I will put my Spirit in you.” — Ezekiel 36:26-27
In December 1967, a team of doctors led by Christiaan Barnard of South Africa performed the world’s first human heart transplant. The news electrified people around the globe. Since then, countless lives have been saved by heart-transplant operations.
When the Bible talks about a person’s heart, though, it is usually not referring to the organ that pumps blood through the body. For thousands of years the heart has been a symbol of what we call our soul, the center of our being, the seat of our thoughts and emotions, what makes us “us.”
Still today, in everyday conversation, if someone is merciless, we may say they are “stony-hearted” or “hard-hearted.” So we know what God was saying when he promised his people, through the prophet Ezekiel, “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. And I will put my Spirit in you.”
This is the new birth Jesus spoke about when he said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). We receive new birth, new life, through the Spirit of God. Previously our stony hearts were dead toward God, but when his Spirit fills us with new life, we are revived and given a new heart of love for God and all people.