I looked at the sheet of music, remembering it was from All-County tryouts years before. I also remembered how I interpreted the piece, but I was never satisfied with how it turned out. Now, though, I was reading the music while listening to a professional orchestra perform it, with a world-class flute player taking on the solo that I had so poorly attempted years before.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – John 1:16-18, ESV
I was revisiting this piece of music because of something I had read from Wynton Marsalis. Known primarily for his jazz, Marsalis constantly has challenged himself with classical pieces as well. But before he undertakes a piece, he finds out how others have performed it. He studies the experts in classical trumpet. I hadn’t done that. Not those many years ago. I had played the piece and never investigated how a professional handled it. As a result, I never understood why I was so dissatisfied. Now, listening to an expert, I realized how far from the composer’s intent I was all those years ago.
When I look at Jesus, I think the same thing. John writes about His fullness. In it we have received grace upon grace. The Law gave us an inkling of how we should be. However, with just the Law we are like I was with that piece of sheet music: we know basically what’s expected but we can’t imagine the fullness. That’s another reason Jesus came to us.
In His life we see the perfect example of how to live, how to love, how to care, and how to worship. We see the perfect professional demonstrate for us what God expects of us. Without Him we cannot know God like we ought. We cannot perceive His full expectations for us. But through Jesus’ example we have the proper interpretation, the benchmark, the standard. God didn’t leave us in the dark. He sent His Son, Jesus, so that we might know how to truly live.
Looking at that sheet music, I will likely never play it as well as a professional. Even if I could desire to put in the practice professional musicians put in, I don’t have enough free time. That doesn’t stop me from trying, however. And just like that, I can never live life as perfectly as Jesus did. That should not stop me from trying in that regard, either.
Jesus has given us the example life. Let us attempt to play our parts as beautifully as He did His. Let us seek to emulate Him as best as we can, to the glory of the Father. Let us live and love like Jesus did. Let us attempt lives of purity and holiness just as He did. We have the model. Let us reach for it.