According to the Cambridge Dictionary the idiom “a broken man” refers to a person who has suffered emotional pain to the point that it has changed the way the person lives. A “broken” person has come to the end of their coping abilities. Broken persons cannot “fix” themselves; they cannot even imagine that things could get better. Outside assistance is necessary.
“Breaking” a horse is the process of training the horse to be ridden. The animal must be taught to accept a saddle and bridle and become accustomed to carrying the weight of a rider. A new pair of shoes will rub against your toes and cause blisters until they are “broken in.” Warming the shoe or applying various oils are techniques used to accomplish this until, as one source put it, “shoe and foot find a way to conform to each other in harmony.”
The gospels of Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’ parable of the vineyard tenants. Time and time again the owner of the vineyard sends servants to collect his fruit but each is killed by the cruel tenants. Finally the owner sends his own son. “Surely they will respect him,” thinks the owner. But they do not. Even the son is slain.
Jesus then summarises the parable by quoting from the Psalms. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps.118:22). He is saying the Gospel, having been rejected by the Jews, will now go to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish races around them. He then adds this curious statement,
“Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matt. 21:44).
Commentators vary on their understanding of the first half of this statement. Is Jesus here twice speaking of the judgement that will fall upon those who refuse Him, or does the first part of His statement refer to the breaking of one’s own will in their submission to Christ? I tend to believe He means the latter.
Jesus has also just told a parable about two sons. One says “No” to his father’s wishes, but then obeys; the other says “Yes,” but in fact disobeys. Jesus asks, “Which one did the will of the father?” (see Matt. 21:28-32). It is the first son who has truly obeyed; he has obeyed by “breaking” his stiff will to bow to the will of the father.
The Psalmist also wrote,
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
To fall upon Christ, allowing our stiff wills to surrender to His does not bring captivity, but freedom! We come to the end of our-selves, but find new Life in Christ. He leads us out of our troubles. He sees just how better things will be… things we cannot now imagine.
Fall on Him. He will take you where without Him you could never go.