I recently read an old magazine column written by the late singer/songwriter Rich Mullins that used a fiddle as a metaphor for a man. He made the point that a fiddle is nothing more than an assemblage of materials with no power of its own to do anything but collect dust. He described the fact that a fiddle is hallow and the idea that, if a fiddle did have feelings, it would feel empty sitting in its case with nothing but stale air residing inside its wood enclosure.
On the other hand, when it is played by a skilled fiddler, a fiddle becomes a magical instrument that, on its own and without any other accompaniment, can be a source of music loud enough, melodic enough, and rhythmic enough to bring people to their feet and cause them to dance!
It is gray Sunday afternoons like this that my hope catches its breath with the thought that, though, I am like an empty, nondescript farmhouse, I still may someday be used by the Master Fiddler if He so desires.
This evening I did something that I haven’t done nearly enough lately. I cracked open my bible, prayed for guidance, and read. My bookmark was resting in the book of Luke. I like to stay focused on the gospels when I read the bible because when I start looking past the life of Jesus I lose focus on the One who is the basis of this whole thing called Christianity. For that matter, I think the majority of people who call themselves Christians have this problem, too, whether they realize it or not. But, that is another issue for another day.
I didn’t even read that much this evening, but, one point struck me as I read through the latter half of the fourth chapter in Luke: the healing compassion of Jesus prefaced His need to reveal his identity as the Son of God. His acts of Love were performed without requiring anything before or after in return.
In the first instance in verses thirty-three through thirty-five Jesus drove demons out of a possessed man. The scripture states that the evil spirits in the man recognized Jesus and tried to speak out against Him, and subsequently reveal His identity, but, Jesus said to them, “Be Quiet!”
Verses thirty-eight and thirty-nine describe the instance in which Jesus was asked by Simon to heal his mother who was suffering from a fever. The scripture doesn’t say that He laid out conditions for Peter or any others present, but, just that, “He bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.”
The fortieth verse states that, “people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one,’ he healed them. Then in verse forty-one when scripture describes demons coming out of people Jesus healed declaring, “You are the Son of God,” Jesus rebukes the spirits and doesn’t allow them to speak, “because they knew He was the Christ.”
One would think that performing miracles such as these and then requiring sacrifice and repentance in return would at least be reasonable from the perspective of Jesus in this situation, so, why didn’t He use these instances more directly to His advantage?
I could probably search through a few online bible commentary’s and find some alternative interpretations to explain why Jesus performed these acts and then intentionally suppressed the revelation of His identity as the Son of God. But, I think that there is a valuable lesson to be learned by modern Christians from this account of some of the first miracles of Jesus and that is that there is, indeed, value in acting like Christ before one preaches Christ in words and that loving and humbly serving the needs of others before we throw bible verses at them should be a top-level priority in our daily lives.
We live in a world now where ideas are easily communicated over digital networks, but, where, as the pace of society continues to quicken, our personal relationships with others are often compromised in favor of our often self-serving daily goals, desires, and to-do lists. Stopping and considering the needs and hearts of others just doesn’t fit conveniently in the flow of daily life in America in 2009.
My confidence in this interpretation of these particular verses is grounded in the spirit of the entire ministry of Jesus while He was on earth from His directive to love others as we love ourselves to the initiative that He took to clean the feet of His disciples, and His willingness to sacrifice His life just to be able to give us undeserved forgiveness.
When I look at my own life in comparison to this lesson its easy for me to recognize that I have a long way to go before I could ever even entertain the thought that I am living these words out in my own life. But, every journey has a starting point.