What Happens When the Fiddler Falls?

So, to continue my thoughts on roofs in the Bible . .

One of my all-time favorite movies opens with this line: “Tevye: A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy.”

Like the fictional Jews of Anatevka, the people of Israel longed for the coming Messiah. Their lives, too, were precarious. At the time of the New Testament, they lived under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire and life turned on a dime.

Jesus’ arrival on scene was not a comforting development.

Jesus was unsettling, scary, and dangerous, especially to anyone trying to balance on their roof.

He was with God from the beginning but He came down from the highest heights to dwell under the same roof as us humans. We’ve honestly no idea what this meant to Him. We’re just barely scratching the surface of what it means to us.

But Jesus understood all that happens up on the roof – our inspired longing to be close to His greatness, our sinful desire to challenge Him for authority in our own lives, and the dangerous balancing act of trying to work out a life on earth.

Jesus spent time on the roof, too, while He was here.

Early on, Satan tempted Jesus, leading Him to stand on the highest point of the temple and challenging him to prove He was God by throwing Himself down to be saved by angels. Jesus refused the dare.

Then, taking Him to the rooftop of the world, Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth if he would just bow down and worship him. All the kingdoms – everything. Again, Jesus resisted everything for us.

We’re so accustomed to reading that story, we fail to respect what happened here. I’ll tell you this, if someone gave me a choice between suffering and dying for you, dear readers, or a billion dollars – I’d really have to think it about and I’m pretty close to some of you. I can’t guarantee how it would turn out.

And that’s only a billion dollars. Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the earth.

To be really honest, I might sell some of you out for a million. Others of you for $100,000 and some two- for- one coupons at a nice Hilton.

Good thing we had Jesus.

More roofs.

In Matthew 8, a Roman centurion came to Jesus on behalf of his sick servant. Jesus offered to visit the centurion’s home to heal him but the man replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

This centurion, serving the greatest known power on earth at the time, acknowledged the inferiority of his own roof for welcoming Jesus and thus recognized Jesus’ superior authority.

In Mark 2, friends of a paralytic man were trying to get him to Jesus for healing. The only way to reach Him was to dig a hole in the roof and lower the friend down. The man, lowered through the roof, not only received healing but also forgiveness of his sins. Once he came down from the roof, that is.

Jesus had authority over earthly power, disease, and sin. But He didn’t stop there.

Jesus further scandalized and unsettled the religious rulers of the day by eating under the roof of tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus addressed the rooftop concerns of the Pharisees by warning His disciples not to walk in their footsteps. He warned them, the religious elite were hypocrites with secrets under their roofs:

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12

Jesus was no fiddler on a roof. He walked secure in His own power and authority, trusting His Heavenly Father so completely for His life that He required no visible roof of His own.

Jesus called us off our rooftops to join in Him in His groundbreaking work. If roofs provide security, protection, advantage, vision, power, and symbolism of the reach of one’s authority, Jesus offered us the banner of heaven as our roof. The shelter of the Most High God.

King David wrote this prayer: “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” Psalm 61

Joyfully, for me, there is one more rooftop mentioned in the New Testament.

In the book of Acts, chapter 10, Peter had gone up to the rooftop to pray when he received a vision that the salvation of Jesus Christ was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. God’s roof has a wide overhang and by this, am I covered, along with everyone on earth who calls on the name of Jesus!

No small coincidence, I think, that Peter wrestled with and accepted this revolutionary concept up on the roof.

So, you can line your roof with gunmen or go there to survey your own kingdom and worship your own power. Or, you can look up from the roof, stare at the stars and grasp your place in the universe – best lived out under the roof top of God’s protection and authority.

What are you doing up on the roof?

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