Perhaps you’ve heard the story. Of the violin. At the auction. Bids for it stopped at $25. The auctioneer was about to say “going, going, gone.” But a man interrupted.
The man got up. Dusted off the violin. Played it with passion. Everyone heard it. The sound was heavenly. The man sat down.
The auctioneer resumed the bidding. Many joined in. The bidding ended at $25,000.
Someone asked the auctioneer: “Why did the bids shoot up?”
The auctioneer replied: “The Master’s touch. The Master showed what it was worth.”
That story reminds me of Christmas. Christmas meant nothing to me till I heard someone explain it with the Master’s touch.
I’d seen and heard the story of Christmas for over a dozen years. Christmas was about pine trees, fairy lights, snow, Santa Claus, reindeer, presents, parties, pies.
Then one September, over 40 years ago, in Seattle, in a Volkswagen Beetle car, I heard a Master tell the story.
That Master was a disciple. Of Jesus.
That disciple said the Bible is about Jesus. He told me there are two parts in the Bible. An “Old” part which says what will happen in the future. And a “New” part which says what happened when the future came.
That disciple told me about many prophecies, predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament. He focused on chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah (see below; see also Romans 1:1-7 which we read on Sunday).
That disciple told me how the New Testament shows the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus. He told me Jesus really came. Jesus said and did great things. Jesus died. Jesus rose again from the dead. Jesus gave instructions to his disciples. Jesus walks with his disciples.
That disciple said no one can approach God without making a sacrifice. He said the Bible, in the Old Testament, says the sacrifice must be “perfect.” He said the Bible teaches the principle “like for like.”
That disciple said a perfect man (‘lamb’) must be sacrificed before any man can appear before God. He said perfect means “without fault, without sin.” He said Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, pure and faultless.
How so? “Because the father of Jesus is pure God, not mere man, Jesus having been born not of the seed of man, but of a virgin.”[i]
Suddenly it all made sense to me. The disciple’s effort to explain it to me made the difference. That disciple was the Master. He dusted off the Bible. He read it with passion. The sound was heavenly.
I bid my whole life on the baby whose birth, life, death, resurrection, command-giving, and presence is described in the Bible and in history.
Christmas is about seeing, hearing, showing. It’s about bidding. And becoming disciples, Masters. Like that disciple – whose name I no longer remember – but who showed me His Master, whom I took as Master too.
Isaiah 53 (Dated to about 700 years before Jesus was born)
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes[h] an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
[i] Last week, in the BLC Family WhatsApp group, one of our members quoted Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Our member then reminded us of Martin Luther’s comment on the verse: “As the devil worked man’s fall through a woman who issued from man without participation of a woman, thus the Seed which will issue from a woman without participation of a man will bring about the devil’s downfall.”