“Jesus’ Focus – Your Focus”
February 4, 2018
I have mentioned from time to time my lack of athletic ability. Of course, any one of you who have seen me ty to run, hit anything, or catch anything can tell that I am not, and never have been, a great athlete. Concentration was usually my problem when I tried to play sports growing up, along with poor eye to hand coordination. If I were playing softball or baseball I would usually swing at a ball long before it got to me, or long after it had passed me. I remember one time I played on a baseball team. I played in the outfield where the coach thought there would be the least chance of my getting hurt, or hurting the team. I remember one game my team was getting beat badly. The pitcher was having a rough time of it, and a half inning seemed like an eternity. I finally got so bored I lay down in the field, and when a ball was finally hit my way I was on my back and didn’t even make an attempt to catch it! Needless to say I did not play for that team very much any more!
Concentrating and focusing on the game is one thing one who plays team sports needs to do. “Keep your eye on the ball” they say. Concentration. The ability to focus. These are things needed of people who play sports. These are things needed of people in everyday life, also.
We would think that Jesus would be able to concentrate and focus on the task at hand also, but in the Mark 1:29-39 passage before us this morning is a story where, at least to the disciples perspective, Jesus is not focusing on what they think needs to be done. Jesus’ focus does not seem to be the same as the disciples’ focus. Here we have Jesus healing many people, including Simon’s mother in law, and the while town is bringing people to Him for Him to heal them. It seems that Jesus and His ministry is becoming exceedingly popular there in Capernaum.
I don’t know about you ,but if I had the amount of success Jesus had I would be tempted to stay in the place where I had experienced that success and not move on to somewhere else where success is not guaranteed, but instead of “cashing in”, so to speak, on His great success and instead of staying where He had gained a great amount of popularity in a very shore amount of time — Jesus moves on.
The disciples probably thought that Jesus needed to focus on where He had been successful instead of moving on to places where He may not be as successful. Jesus came to Capernaum. He attended the synagogue and drove out a demon. He went to Simon’s house and healed Simon’s mother-in-law. The people flocked to him so that he might heal them. He healed lots of people, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of Him or what He was doing. And then, just when He was so popular He could have spent a lot of time there and had an extremely successful ministry He went off to a deserted place to pray, and the disciples seemed to lose patience with Jesus. He was AWOL, so to speak, as far as they were concerned. He was absent and they did not know where He was.
How dare He leave in the midst of such success? they must have thought. Where did He go? They began searching for him. The Greek word translated “searched” in the NIV is katedioxen. It’s the same word that would be used to speak of hunting animals. It’s as if the disciples had gone on a manhunt looking for Jesus, desperately trying to figure out where he was, searching everywhere to find him. They finally found Him in a lonely place, all by himself, praying, and seemingly oblivious to the crowds seeking for Him in Capernaum. It seems to not make sense to the disciples. Everyone had marveled at Jesus’ teachings and everyone was in awe of His healing power, and the disciples silently wondered what Jesus was doing out here in the middle of nowhere when they thought he was needed back in Capernaum continuing with the great success He was having there.
I can imagine how they felt. Can’t you? Jesus had raised people’s expectations and then had disappeared. When they found him, they said “Everyone is searching for you.” Maybe they really wanted to say: “What’s the matter with you Jesus! Come on! Let’s get back to town! Let’s take care of business! This is not the time for prayer it’s the time for action! Come on! Focus, Jesus Focus!”
But what did Jesus do? Did He apologize and go back to town, back to where He had a great ministry started, back to where He was wildly popular? No. Instead He answered: “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.
I imagine that the disciples were stunned by this. They may have wanted to respond: “But what about all these people who are searching for you, Jesus? They want to see you. Everyone wants to talk to you. There are people who need healing and there is a young man who wants to be your disciple , there’s a rich man who wants to build you a synagogue. You don’t need to travel all over Galilee, Jesus. There are mre opportunities right here in Capernaum than you can shake a stick at, opportunities to last a lifetime! Let’s take advantage of this opportunity!”
But Jesus said: “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
“That is what I came out to do.”
One way to put it is is that Jesus “had his eye on the ball.” He was focused, But He was not focused on the things that seemed important to the disciple, He was
focused on the more important things. He did not let His immediate popularity or the opinions of the disciples keep Him from focusing on the most important thing. He kept His eye on the ball, so to speak. He kept his focus.
Keep your eye on the ball. Concentrate. Focus.
A baseball player who keeps his eye on the ball is more apt to hit it, or catch it, than one who does not. A basketball player who keeps his eye on the ball is more apt to get a rebound, catch a pass, or intercept a pass than one who glances away. A tennis player who keeps their eye on the ball is more apt to hit it than one who gets distracted. A golfer who takes his eye off the ball usually hits more dirt than ball ! A football player who keeps his eye on the ball is more apt to catch it than one who becomes distracted. I remember once watching a football game and a runner broke loose and was heading to the goal line, but as he neared it he slowed down to “show off” for the TV cameras and stuck the ball out to make a “pretty picture” and one of the opposing players came up from behind him, hit the ball and jarred it loose, and recovered the fumble. So much for the “pretty picture”.
Jesus, in a manner of speaking, kept His eye on the ball. He did not lose His concentration on what was really important. He stayed focused on what He came to do, which was to proclaim the message of salvation to the neighboring towns.
The disciples may have thought that Jesus was not taking care of business, but actually He was taking care of business. He was taking care of, and focusing on, what God sent him into the world to do.
There is a lesson here for us. We, as Christ’s people, have a lot of things we can be doing. We have a lot of things we can focus on. But what is to be our first priority? What is the first thing we need to focus on? It’s our relationship with God.
Jesus did not let anything distract Him from His relationship with God. In the midst of great popularity Jesus pulled away to pray and to nurture His relationship with God. When He did this, He discovered what He was called to do and did not let His popularity or the opinions of the disciples keep Him from this.
Keep your eye on the ball. Stay focused. Stay focused on your relationship with God and this will make it clear to you what God would have You to be doing. Stay focused. Find time every day to pray, to be in conversation with God to let God be in conversation with you about what you can be doing for His glory in the world. It will also help you learn what are the most important things God wants you to be doing. It may not be what others may want you to do – it may not be what others feel is important, but it will be what God deems important and what God wants you to do.
Stay focused. Don’t let things take your concentration away from God and His will for you, your life, your role in the Church, and your role in the community and the world for His glory.
A colleague tells of a funeral he conducted for a member of his congregation. This man was very successful, made a lot of money, and he shared most of what he made with others. He had given a lot of money to a local orphanage, helped pay for a lot of kids to go to college, and had supported the local mission that helped those in need. Many people wanted to know how he had been so successful and how he had done so much for so many. At his funeral his wife made a comment that my colleague said gave the man’s secret. She said that not a day went by that he had not prayed before he left the house for the day. This, my colleague said, is what helped him stay focused on what God wanted him to do.
When the disciples found Jesus He said that He had to do what He had come to do – what God had in mind for Him to do. He stayed focused on what God would have Him to be doing by praying and asking God what His will was for Him.
You can do that, also. Let Jesus’ focus of prayer, then action, be your focus also. Amen.