Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
Ten or so years ago I was playing on the floor with two of my children. I was on my back on the living room floor with my knees facing upwards. My oldest daughter was sitting on my feet while I was lifting her up and down by my knees. Again and again I would flinging each daughter over my head, flip them, and land them on their feet. It was great fun. Then one time I went to fling my kiddo, she did not let go of my knees because she was worried she would land on her little sister. I was not ready for that and my neck crunched as it was pushed into my chest. I screamed. I stood up and knew something was very wrong. We ended up calling an emergency chiropractor and spent the next hour having them try to snap and move my neck back into place. Ever since then, my neck has never been the same, and I often make trips to the chiropractor to help loosen up the stiffness. If the chiropractor places me face down on the drop table and attempts to make an adjustment while I resist and stiffen, my neck may not shift as intended and potentially could be broken beyond healing. Being loose and relaxed during the adjustment helps so that I can be bent and shifted towards an ideal neck curve.
Unfortunately when we are reproved by another person, or by God through his Word; our hearts can often be more stiff than my neck. We hear the rebuke but will not submit to the truth. Why? Jeremiah tells us the reason is not due to an injury, but rather a sickness.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jeremiah’s hypothetical question silences me from presuming to understand why our hearts are sick. But sick they are nonetheless.
I do however know there is a person who does understand this rancid sickness of the human heart, and his name is Jesus. He was tempted in every way like us, yet did not sin. At Calvary, he was rebuked for the sin (the stiffness of neck) of his people, and treated as if he was hard hearted and desperately sick. It appeared as if he was broken beyond healing. Yet he could not be kept in the grave after his death, because his wounds brought justification and hope for mankind. We who need constant reproof because of the stiffness of our heart, are suddenly treated as if we were repaired beyond destruction. What can be said about these things?
Romans 8:31-34 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
The gospel tells us we were broken beyond healing, but now are repaired beyond destruction.