Summary: Everything made by man is doomed. Only the God-made body, and the God-redeemed world can be the focus of the Christian hope. That is why Paul groaned and longed to be clothed with the heavenly body God had for him.
Most of us could tell true stories of our forgetfulness that allowed us to put a
book, a casserole, or some other object on the top of our car, and then get in
and drive off. Some of these stories will have sadder endings than others, but it
is not likely any of our stories could match that of Paula Horowitz of Amherst,
Mass. The object she absentmindedly placed on the top of her car was a
$31,000 violin that was thirty years older than the United States of America.
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra had loaned this valuable instrument
to her son Jason, who was the concert master for the local youth symphony.
She put it on the top of her car and drove off, and where the violin landed
nobody knows. Police say witnesses reported seeing and empty violin case by
the road, but no violin. The woman said, "In one minute's carelessness I feel
like my life has been destroyed." She groaned in grief for her loss.
That is rare to bear such a burden because of the loss of a musical
instrument, but all of us at sometime will have to groan in grief because of the
loss of the instrument called the body. The body is a wonderful thing, but it
can also be a pain and a burden. There are those who teach that Christians
should not have bodily pains and problems, but should always be in a state of
ideal health. All of us could wish this was true, but the facts are, and the Bible
makes it abundantly clear, our bodies are a part of a fallen world, and they
lead to groaning.
Paul in verse 2 and 4 says we groan in this present body. The Greek word
he uses here twice is stenazo. This is the primary New Testament word for
groaning and sighing because of life's burdens. Someone said, "the optimist
says this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist believes it. "Paul
was one of the greatest optimist of history, but he never believed this was the
best of all possible worlds. It is a lost and fallen world, and in Rom. 8:22-26
Paul uses the word groan three times. In verse 22 he writes, "We know that the
whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of child birth...." In verse 23
he writes, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of
Paul is making it clear that we live in a fallen world and our bodies are
subject to all sorts of sufferings. The only was to escape is to get out of this
body into a new body which is not subject to all the burdens of a fallen world.
Anyone who promises you a life in this earthly body without burdens is
offering you something that God has never offered. In verse 26 of Romans 8
Paul even says that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words
cannot express. Even God enters into the burdens of this fallen world.
We see it especially in the groans of Jesus. It was a messed up world that
Jesus came to. That is why He came. It is the sick who need the doctor, and
this is a sick world. But Jesus also got sick of the folly of man, and he sighed
under the burden of it. In Mark 8, right after Jesus fed the 4,000, one of His
greatest miracles, the Pharisees came to Him and asked Him for a sign from
heaven. There blindness was more than He could tolerate. Jesus knew what
frustration was all about, and in verse 12 it says, "He sighed deeply and said,
why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no
sign will be given it." And Jesus left there. Don't let anybody tell you that a
good Christian should never be frustrated with this fallen world. If it was a
pain and a burden to Jesus, it is folly to expect to live without groaning.
We also see a positive side of His groaning. It is usually a negative response
to the negatives of a fallen world. But it can be a sympathetic sighing. We see
this in Mark 7:34. A man who was deaf and who could hardly talk was
brought to Jesus. It was a sad sight to see a man made in the image of God in so
pathetic body. It was not the work of art He created. It was totally defective
and flawed. Jesus was moved with compassion, and verse 34 says, "He looked
up to heaven and with a deep sigh (this is the same Greek word stenazo) He