“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
— Jeremiah 29:13
Felix Mendelssohn was one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. (If you’ve ever attended a wedding, you’re probably familiar with his famous “Wedding March.”) Mendelssohn was born in 1809 to a wealthy family, unlike most other composers of his time. He was happy, although one blotch marred the perfect picture of his life. Because they were Jewish, the Mendelssohns often received unfair treatment and were denied basic rights by those around them. It is shameful that everything the Mendelssohns owned could be snatched up at a moment’s notice. To avoid mockery and persecution, Felix’s father, Abraham, took his children to the Lutheran state church and had them baptized. The Mendelssohns put on the cloak of state respectability and became “Christians” … at least in name.
Though Felix was outwardly a Christian, his heart was empty. He sought to fill this vacuum until his grandmother shared with him a manuscript that was written by an obscure composer who had died seventy-five years earlier. The composer was Johann Sebastian Bach, and the manuscript was St. Matthew’s Passion. The music moved Mendelssohn, but the words captivated him. As Mendelssohn considered the meaning of these words in St. Matthew’s Passion—“He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows … God hath made Him to be sin for us”—he came to realize that indeed a Savior had come into the world and His name was Jesus. Mendelssohn discovered that being a Christian was not about religion, but about a relationship with Jesus Christ. This discovery changed his life.
Because of his exposure to Bach’s work, Mendelssohn made a great contribution to music, reviving interest in Bach’s work, which had fallen into neglect. Later Mendelssohn, like Bach, wrote music that glorified the Lord. In doing so, Mendelssohn shared with the world the treasure he had found—the Gospel of Christ—a musical testimony that continues to affect people’s lives.