If you have read John Bunyan’s classic Christian allegory, PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, you will remember the stopover Christian (Pilgrim) makes in “the House of the Interpreter.” Just as a refresher, I have read this section several more times, because it is a great primer for an overseas disciple-making trip with pastors and leaders. The “Interpreter” represents the Holy Spirit in the story, and with Bunyan’s remarkable genius, he pictures beautifully the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in the economy of God. The Interpreter is defined by a “picture on the wall” of his house, the portrait of a “certain man” ( a kind of representative “interpreter”). Let me explain that. Though in Bunyan’s story there is one “Interpreter”, there are several “Interpreter’s assistants, or helpers”. These represent all of the called and assigned servants in the Household of God. Jesus said, “He who would be great among you, let him be the servant (bondslave!) of all. A bondslave is a slave who has “bonded” or bound himself to his master because of love, not because he is bound by law. A Christian is not a servant because he is FORCED into such a life, but because he deeply “loves his Master, and WILL NOT GO OUT FREE” (see Exodus 21:1-6, especially verse 5).
I want to linger to look at the portrait of the Interpreter in that picture. Seven characteristics are listed in Bunyan’s verbal portrait in PILGRIM’S PROGRESS. (1) While happy of heart, he is still a serious (graveyard serious) person. C.S. Lewis echoed this in one of his brilliant works entitled, Joy, the Serious Business of Heaven. (2) His eyes are elevated to Heaven, a living example of the verse, “Since you are risen with Christ, set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). (3) He is Biblical. “His blood runs Bibline”, as Spurgeon said. Bunyan defined him as one who “had the best of Books in his hand.” (4) He is Truth-dominated—and Truth-declaring. “The law of Truth was written upon his lips”, Bunyan said. What a remarkable line! Truth, then, is the law; not a mere moral option, but a mandated necessity. And it was “inscribed” as in letter of fire—upon his lips. When he speaks, he even unwittingly speaks the Truth that fills the vitals of his life. In short, he is a walking, talking BIBLE. (5) He is unworldly. “The world was behind his back.” He doesn’t even notice the glamor and glitter of the world; he has already acclimatized himself to a world where the streets are of gold! “I have seen the King; what have I to do any more with baubles and bubbles?” He wears this world like a loose garment, and it may be left behind at any moment in favor of a better inheritance! (6) He is urgent about men’s souls. “He stood as if he pleaded with men.” And again, “He is one in a thousand; he can beget children, and travail in birth with them until they are born.” (7) He is a disciple-maker, one who nurtures new-borns to bring them to mature character and productivity. “He sponsors them himself when they are born.” (8) “His head will bear a crown of reward” in the next world. I Peter 5:4 says that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, he shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away.”
(I pray that we, you and I, have the passion to follow Christ in like manner.)