This morning I played for special music at my church. I was almost 68 when I bought a cello and started to learn to play. Now I’m 70 and am still catching on to how a cello is played. It’s not easy.
Today I was playing a duet with my teacher, Lorie. I had the solo part; she was accompanying me.
The first thing that went wrong was too many people for music today. The piano. The praise team. An electric bass. Another cello besides mine and my teacher’s. A violin. I was getting dizzy. Lorie gave me a piece of wood with a strap for setting the point of the cello so it wouldn’t slide on the platform. I got on my knees trying to figure that out while the congregation waited.
Breathless, I sat down, held the cello and drew the bow across the D string for the opening of the piece (Canzonetta by Dacla). My teacher was with me, but I hadn’t gone more than a couple of measures before I hit a wrong note, tried to correct, moved on and made a series of mistakes and watched my fingers fumble until with gratitude I saw the end approaching. It was awful. There was no way to cover the fact that my “performance” was awful.
As people were leaving the church, they didn’t say to me, “Good job!” or “I liked that piece.” Instead they said things like, “For taking lessons for such a short time, you did really well” and “What courage you showed getting up there to play,” and “You got through it. Good for you.”
Then I thought about Jesus. I imagined him next to me playing a heavenly cello. His notes would blend with mine and somehow pull mine into perfect harmony. The timbre and tone would be exactly right. It would be like wearing the wedding garment to the greatest feast of eternity when Jesus comes, or being touched by a garment blessed by Him, a piece of clothing that would make me well. Changed from a scrumpy clump of mangled hair and arms and legs streaked with dirt and blood, I knew I could one day be transformed into a glorious human presenting a musical tribute to God. I can handle my humble attempts at playing the cello for now.
Thought questions for Lesson 12: More Clothing Imagery 2011b
1. “Who touched my clothes?” Where do you think the woman with an issue of blood got the idea that all she needed to do was to grasp Jesus’ clothing, and she would be healed? What effect did being ritually unclean because of the continual bleeding have on the woman? On those around her? Did Jesus ever say, “If you touch my clothes I will heal you”? What is the real reason Jesus healed her? In what way was her act of touching Jesus’ clothes an act of faith? What does the “touching” in this story mean to you and me? Can we worship God without “touching” and “being touched”? Explain.
2. The Passover through the eyes of sinners. Have you ever seen Christians arguing or being disagreeable in church? Was the “upper room” an appropriate place for the disciples to show their disgust for each other? Is there ever an appropriate place for this kind of discussion? Why didn’t Jesus just look the other way? What’s wrong with wanting the best positions in government or business for your children? Doesn’t every mother long for her son to succeed in life? Have you ever had dirty feet and enjoyed getting them clean again? What shocked the disciples about the foot washing that took place in the upper room? Can we participate in this holy service without touching and being touched? But why was Judas a part of this solemn ceremony? Shouldn’t we be careful about whom we allow into the service at our churches? What does being touched by Jesus do to the dedicated Christian? To the stumbling and falling Christian?
3. Tearing his clothes. What was Caiaphas the high priest’s mood as he tore at his garments in the presence of Jesus? What was the significance of the high Priest’s tearing his clothes? Do you think Caiaphas was aware of the symbolism of what he did? Why or why not? Why did he put his reputation and his life at stake by tearing his own carefully crafted ceremonial clothing? Do you think he was driven by a sense of guilt to make himself worthy of death according to Jewish law? Is it a shorter trip for those who are poor to reach the throne of grace than it is for the wealthy? Why or why not? Compared to others in the world, are you rich? Are you sure?
4. Garments of mockery. How do you feel when you think of the soldiers ripping off Jesus’ clothing and putting a scarlet robe around His shoulders? Why did Jesus allow this humiliating event to take place? What is the symbolism of the hatred of Jesus in the crown of thorns pressed onto his head? In a reed placed in his right hand? Do we ever see coverage today of people mocking their leader or others to show their hatred? Is mocking an appropriate Christian behavior? Even of bad people? Have you ever been mocked? Can we withstand hatred, mockery, humiliation for the cause of Jesus? How?
5. The shame of nakedness. In Jesus’ lifetime, was it considered shameful to be naked? Why were Jesus’ garments stripped from Him? Does your stomach churn when you think of this peaceful, loving man being despised and hated? How does this extreme humiliation help explain the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross? Or does it? Were the soldiers thinking of the garments of Jesus one day being valuable when they divided His clothing and cast lots to purchase them? Do you think Jesus derived a fragment of comfort from the fact that the prophecy of His garments being sold by lot was being fulfilled? Do you have an “emergency promises list” of prophecies, special messages, or Biblical stories that you can lean on when unsettling things happen? Do we spend enough time thinking about, and praising God for, His promises of salvation and eternal life?
6. The death of Jesus. As the final events in the life of Jesus unfolded, do you think Jesus felt a wisp of courage realizing that it was all about to end? Or was he consumed by feelings of regret for those who had followed Him part way and then turned aside? Do you and I spend more time complaining about the misery of the world we live in than about the joy of a walk with Jesus? Is the crucifixion of Jesus still real to you? Or as the years have passed by, have those events faded into a faint memory? How can we keep the life and death of Jesus in front of us as we make our way through life? Or does God want us to forget about the bad things that happened in the past? Discuss.
Have a wonderful Sabbath