Would You Know the Greatest?

In 2007, Gene Weingarten wrote a news article regarding an experiment performed by The Washington Post.

January 12, 2007, was just another busy morning in the DC Metro Station. At just before 8 A.M., an ordinary-looking man opened up his violin case and began to play a piece by Bach. After three minutes, a man tossed some change into his open violin case. He continued to play for about forty-five minutes.

During that time, over 1000 people passed. Just a handful lingered to listen, but none for more than a few minutes. People had places to be. They had other things on their minds. “Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch,” Weingarten noted. “And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

That man on the violin was one of the world’s greatest violinists, Joshua Bell. His 2003 album, Romance of the Violin, sold over 5 million copies, and just a few nights earlier, he had played to a packed house at Symphony Hall with tickets starting at around $100 each. The violin on which he played was handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in the 1710s and was valued at around $3.5 million. He played six pieces by Bach, widely considered some of the most moving and most difficult works ever composed.

So how did he do? In total, he collected $32.17, and when he finished playing, this man who is accustomed to receiving standing ovations night after night, received no applause. In short, one of the potentially greatest musical performances of all-time was basically ignored.

When I read Weingarten’s article, I thought immediately of Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11). Here was the greatest man who ever lived—literally God in the flesh—yet most people failed to recognize him.

Sometimes we might wonder how the Jews could have overlooked such greatness right in front of them? “If I was alive then,” we might say, “I would have sat at his feet and hung on every word. I would have followed him to the death!” Yet aren’t there times when we find ourselves putting work or personal interests before our devotion to Jesus? After all, if we have access to a Bible, we have the very word of God at our fingertips. We have those words of Jesus we claim to be so eager to hear. They are printed right there on the page. Yet how many days do we let slip away without taking the time to study the Word? How many days do we let slip away without taking the time to worship God in a way that shows that we recognize that He sent the Word for our sakes? How many days do we basically ignore the greatest message of all-time?

—Tyler Walker