April 12, 2007: A 39-year-old man stationed himself next to a trash bin at the L’Enfant Plaza subway station in Washington, D.C. He had on a sweatshirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. He was a busker—a street entertainer familiar to those who frequent public transportation. He opened a violin case and seeded it with some change. He started to play. He did not play just anything; he started with a Bach that is one of the most challenging pieces for violin. And he was not playing just any violin; he was playing a 1713 violin handcrafted by Stradivari, so famous it had been stolen twice.
The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest today. He was an accomplice with The Washington Post newspaper and willingly participated in an experiment: Would the greatest violinist in the world, playing the best music ever written on the most expensive violin, get anybody’s attention at rush hour? He looked like a common street entertainer, standing by a trash barrel. What happened?
It was three minutes into his performance, and after 63 people had rushed by, that one man finally slowed down and looked—but did not stop. It was six minutes into it before one man stopped, leaned against a wall, and listened. In total, 1,070 people rushed by without giving any attention at all for 15 minutes. Twenty-seven people threw change in as they were running by, for a total of $32. Josh Bell usually makes $1,000 per minute at concerts.
Can you believe that so many people walked right by the master and never knew it? Isn’t it crazy to think that these people could be standing that close to greatness and miss it? Well, not only did it happen in 2007, it also happened 2000 years ago. This is the story of the evening of the first Easter. This is the story of the Emmaus Road. This is the story of Cleopas and his companion. And I wonder, how much of this story is your story? I know it is part of my story…