A Devotional Reading: Odysseus (Escape) or Jason (Delight)?

Written by: Ted Moon

In Greek mythology there was a dangerous island sailors encountered. On this island lived three Sirens, who were half bird and half human. These Sirens sang songs that sailors could not resist. On hearing their captivating singing, sailors would drive their boats onto the rocky shore and drown. They simply could not resist the gravitational melodies. The Sirens, like sin, lured passing ships to their death and destruction with their hypnotic songs.

Two famous captains brought their crews and ships safely past the island of the Sirens. One captain, Odysseus, knowing the danger of the Sirens, put wax in the ears of his men so they could not hear the Sirens singing. However, he desired to hear the three Sirens sing so had his sailors tie him to the mast. He instructed them that under no circumstances were they to untie his ropes till they passed the island and could no longer see the Sirens. When Odysseus heard the sirens, he strained to get free but was unable until the ship passed the dangerous island and the sailors untied him. So Odysseus and his men eluded destruction and continued on their journey.

But the picture of Odysseus’ passage past the island of the Sirens is quite different from that of another ship that made its way safely past.

Jason and his men, the fabled Argonauts, also escaped death on the rocks of the Sirens. Jason, however, had a lute (a stringed instrument like a guitar) player by the name of Orpheus, who travel with him. Orpheus’ lute playing had the ability to totally captivate his hearers. As long as he played, anyone who listened to his music heard only his music. As soon as Jason’s ship came near the island of the Sirens, the crew assembled on deck in the shadow of the mast and Orpheus began playing his enchanting melodies. The Siren songs were ignored because Jason and his men were captivated by the beautiful music of Orpheus. So Jason and his sailors passed safely by the Sirens and continued on their journey.

Odysseus and Jason illustrate two ways that exist in the pursuit of victory in the lives of Christians. Some, like Odysseus, long to hear the Siren song of sin but are strapped to the mast to prevent them from yielding.  Others have wax in their ears, in order to drown out the Siren song of sin.  And when they make the harbor, safe at last, I’m certain their rejoicing is great. Yet, what a sad picture they present along the way. The sons and daughters of God are not prisoners to passion, chained against their will to the mast of the cross by dogma, doctrine and duty, longing for the deadly embrace of the Sirens. The sweetness of sanctified living has too often been laid aside in order to tie each other up before we fall prey to the siren songs of the world. It is a dreary holiness indeed that is merely resisting sin.

However, others Christians are like Jason and find the Siren song of sin no longer captivates them, for they have heard a sweeter song. To them the song of holiness is a song of joy. Under the cross, they are liberated to hear a heavenly song. Holiness is not a burden, but a joy. It is not a duty but a delight. The Holy Spirit longs to sound a sweeter call, “All hands on deck to hear the music of heaven.” Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

You remember Joseph’s reply when Mrs. Potiphar tempted Joseph to come to bed with her? Joseph’s reply was not, “I cannot because we may be caught.” Or “I cannot because Potiphar might find out.” Or even, “I cannot because it is wrong.” These answers might be true but Joseph had heard the music from heaven and said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) He had a relationship with God that was more beautiful to him than the pleasures of a moment. In response to this music from Heaven, Charles Wesley wrote, “Depth of mercy, can it be; mercy still reserved for me. Can my God His wrath forbare, me the chief of sinners spare? I have long withstood His grace; long provoked Him to His face; would not harken to His call, grieved Him by a thousand falls. Whence to me this waste of love? Ask my Advocate above. See the cause on Jesus face, now before the throne of grace. There for me the Savior stands, shows His wounds and spreads His hands. God is love, I know, I feel. Jesus weeps and loves me still.”

Scripture encourages us not only to hear the music of Heaven but to sing it so others hear it, too. Revelation 5 reminds us what that song sounds like, “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You, O Lord, are worthy…because you were slain, and with Your blood You purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. Then I heard every creature in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!”

If you have heard the heavenly song, let’s close by singing to Him who sits on the throne “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”


One response to “A Devotional Reading: Odysseus (Escape) or Jason (Delight)?”

  1. Bob says:

    It’s the difference between living under the law trying to earn God’s favor or under grace receiving that unmerited favor with joy.

    Well said, Ted!

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