The greatness of men's need stands out most pathetically in this, that men don't know their need. They have gotten so used to the night that they don't care for the sunlight. They have been hungry so long that the sense of hunger and the call of appetite have wholly gone.
There is a simple, striking story told of two famous Scandinavians, Ole Bull, the great violinist, and John Ericsson, the great inventor, who taught the world to use the screw in steam navigation. The one was a Norwegian, the other a Swede. They had been friends in early life, but drifted apart and did not meet again until each had become famous. The old friendship was renewed on one of Ole Bull's tours to this country.
As Bull was leaving his friend, after a delightful visit, he gave him a cordial invitation to attend his concert that evening. But the matter-of-fact, prosaic Ericsson declined, pleading pressure of work, and saying that he had no time to waste on music.
Bull renewed his invitation, time and again, finally saying, "If you won't come, I'll bring my violin down here to your shop, and play." "If you do," replied the famous engineer laughingly, "I'll smash the thing to pieces." The violinist, knowing the marvellous, almost supernatural, power of his instrument to touch and awaken the human heart into new life, felt curious to know what effect it would have on this scientific man steeped in his prosaic physics. So he planned a bit of diplomacy.
Taking the violin with him, he called upon Ericsson at his workshop one day. He removed the strings and screws and apron, and called Ericsson's attention to certain defects, asking about the scientific and acoustic principles involved, and discussing the differing effect of the different grain of certain woods. From this he went on to a discussion of sound waves. Finally, to illustrate his meaning and his questions, he replaced the parts, and, bringing the bow softly down upon the tense strings, drew out a few marvellously sweet, rich tones.
At once the workmen in the shop dropped their tools, and listened with wide-eyed wonder. Ole Bull played on and on, with his simple great skill, making the workshop a place of worship. When finally he paused, Ericsson lifted his bowed head, and showed eyes that were wet. Then he said softly, with the touch of reverent awe in his voice, "Play on! Don't stop. Play on. I never knew before what it was that was lacking in my life."
That is what men everywhere say when they come to know Jesus. They fight against knowing Him because of their ignorance of Him. At home, prejudice against theology of this sort and that; against some preaching, or church service, or some Christian people they have unpleasant memories of perhaps, bar the way. Abroad, prejudice against their treatment at the hands of Christian nations, or against anything new, shuts the door with a slam and a sharp push of the bolt.
It takes great diplomacy, love's diplomacy, the combination of serpent and dove, subtlety and harmlessness, to get an entrance. But when the door is pried open, or coaxed open enough for some sound or sight of Jesus to get in, they passionately cry out, "This is what I need. This Jesus is the lacking thing in my life!"