What Do You See? A Lesson in Focus
March 20, 2019, 3:17 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags:

What Do You See?

John 4

Are there certain things that you have heard over and over until you think that there is nothing more you can learn about it?  When my kids were growing up, we would go on trips and they would want to stop along the way.  So, we would go into a store, pick up some snacks and drinks, and they would always see one of those machines that you put a nickel, dime, quarter in and get a little ball.  You know the ones, they are little bouncing rubber balls.  In the back of a vehicle, those things are lethal.  Sometime into the drive, the ball would end up bouncing off my head and I would ask the ridiculous question that all dads ask, “do you want me to come back there?”  But I wanted to be a good dad and use this as a teachable moment.  One day, I went into the store and I bought the little bouncy rubber ball and went to the car.  As we got on the main road and speeded up, I ask, “do you think I can catch this ball if I throw it in front of the car?”  The kids shouted no, then I threw and caught it, showing it to them!  They were amazed and wanted me to do it again.  I did a couple of more times and then told them I was going to really throw it a long way in front and try it one more time.  This time I threw it in front toward the middle of the car and it bounced on the hood and over the front of the car, uncatchable.  So instead of buying the ball to throw and torment each other, they would get a ball for me to try again.  As the kids grew, they questioned my ability to do this a little more and began to carefully watch when I would throw.  They learned that I only threw the ball once, the last time,  and just faked throwing the other times, holding the ball in my hand.  In this case, repetition was a good thing and eventually, they saw something that they had missed before. 

Reading the Bible and examining passages that we have heard before is like that.  We make observations early in our Christian life that may be true but as we observe a passage over and over, we see other things.  So, today, let’s look at a story from John 4, that you have heard many times, seeking to see something that we missed before.  When you get there, raise your hand if you want to summarize what is happening!  Today, in this passage, I want you to focus on the disciples.  I am convinced that Jesus was teaching the disciples a lesson that each of us needs to learn.   I think I can explain why they missed the lesson and why we miss what Jesus is trying to teach us with three points. 

First, as we go to John 4, we see that Jesus was going home to Galilee from Judea.  The quickest route would take Him through Samaria.  The problem was Jewish people hated the Samaritans and would avoid them, even if it meant taking a longer way home.  But Jesus wanted to teach the disciples an important lesson that we need to know.  We need to know how to share Jesus with others.  The first step to sharing Jesus is to focus on others more than ourselves.  If you look at verse 7, Jesus begins a conversation with a Samaritan woman who needed Him.  What did Jesus see that let Him know the woman needed help?  Notice the words, “and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria”.  Those details reveal two important things.  First, she was coming at a time that was unusual.  In most situations, the women would come within the first hour, near 6 a.m.  For this woman to come near noon, the hottest part of the day, suggested that she was an outcast to her people.  The Samaritan women saw her as so sinful, a waste of a life, that they wouldn’t associate with her.  She was an outcast, with no hope, and certainly not a woman that other Samaritans would talk to, much less a Jewish man.  Imagine her shock when this Jewish man named Jesus began a conversation.  Jesus invests time to talk with her.  When she speaks, He listens to her.  He hears her and cares enough to exposes her attempts at self-righteousness.  He hears her claims to love God and to worship Him.  Look at the next thing she does, she tries to start a theological argument with JESUS!  But Jesus looks at the evidence of her life which shows that she needs a REAL relationship with the true God.  Jesus shows her what she needs and what she has been looking for in Him.  It is at this point in her conversation concerning her salvation, that the disciples return.  Why have they missed this amazing event?  It is because they went to town to buy food for themselves.  See the difference, they focused on their need while Jesus, who most likely was also hungry, after all, they traveled together and He did ask for water, focused on someone other than Himself.  Jesus focused on what the woman needed but the disciples don’t give her a thought.  They’re hungry! They are all about their needs, so they miss what others need.   

How many times do I miss the needs of others because all I am concerned with is me?  How about you?  The church is faced with a big problem of de-churched young people.  Depending on the survey, 50 to almost 90% of young people reared in a Christian home and in church, leave the church when they turn 18.  I think a part of the problem is how we define Christianity.  When we say that Christianity is the story of how Jesus came to earth to save us from Hell, we are not telling the whole story.  He did come to show He was the One and Only Lord God Almighty, the Supreme Being above all.  But in our narrative, we have changed His plan to one in which He is here to make sure we are successful, happy, and free from problems.  If Jesus doesn’t, we get mad at Him and turn away from Him.  The problem is that we forget that Jesus didn’t want people who only followed Him for what He can do for us.  A real relationship involves getting to know each other and learning that we must be more about the other person than we are about ourselves.  We need to get something straight right now.  We aren’t the object in the spotlight, Jesus is.  Everything is about Him, not me.  To be honest with you, if Jesus never did another thing for everyone in this room, if he never answered another prayer, healed another person, if He never provided for another person, we really couldn’t complain.  He died for us. He became the propitiation for our sins which means He satisfied God’s wrath with His beating and death on the cross.  He rose to prove that God accepted Him as a suitable sacrifice, once and for all, for sin.  He conquered sin, broke the chains of sin in our life, paid off our wages of sin by His death and resurrection.  Why did He do it?  To magnify Himself.  To show that He is the Ultimate.  He has no rival.  There is none like Him.  So, what role do we play?  We are his followers who become His slaves and take up our cross, ready to die for Him.  Right now, in chapel, is that how you see yourself?  I have been praying that the Holy Spirit will speak to you today.  Let’s take a moment, right now, for all of us to bow our heads and pray.  Who is willing to confess that you have been only concerned with your needs so that Jesus makes your life fun and free from problems?  Who is willing to say, Jesus, I realize that life is not about me, but about You?  I want to follow you, to live for you, to give my life away for you?  Jesus, I want your purpose to be my purpose.  I want to share you, whatever the cost.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen!

Okay, let’s return to the story.  Remember the first point is to focus on others more than ourselves.  Because Jesus focused on her, He got her to focus on the Truth that transforms.  After a long discussion with the woman, Jesus finally heard her say, “I know that Messiah’s coming.  When He comes, he will tell us all things!”  Can’t you see the smile on Jesus’ face when He told her, “the One you’re looking for I AM?  I am the Messiah!” 

Now time out.  Remember the disciples, who focused on their needs.  They returned from Mickey D’s and notice Jesus is talking to the woman.  They just heard Jesus admit to this woman that He is the Messiah, He is God.  How do the disciples react to this truth?  If you think they were excited and thrill that Jesus had shared the Truth, you need to keep reading.  The disciples are more concerned with why Jesus should NOT be talking to the woman instead of rejoicing about her salvation.  That brings us to the second point.  “we must focus on reasons why we should share Jesus more than on reasons why we don’t”.  Jesus took the time to notice this woman’s unique behavior.  He noticed things that show she needed to hear about Him?  What did He notice?  Remember, He noticed the time she came to the well.  He noticed her defensiveness.  He noticed her attempts to be self-righteous.  He noticed when she tried to change the subject.  He noticed her need of love and acceptance.  What do you notice about other people?  Okay, time for a quiz?  Don’t answer if it is you are the answer.  

Who is one of the first people in the cafeteria at lunch? 

Name one person who uses the microwave almost every day. 

Who sits at the first table when you come into the cafeteria? 

Name one student who speaks to me in the cafeteria?

Now I am going to ask some questions that I don’t want you to answer out loud.  So, don’t call out a name. 

What did you do when you saw someone who seemed to be sad about something?

Which girl who gave her testimony in chapel before Homecoming went to every other girl and hugged her while waiting for people to vote?

Who was the last person you saw talk in chapel instead of listening?

Have you ever considered that God may have you here to talk to someone about Him?  The disciples didn’t.  When they returned to Jesus, they were surprised that He was talking to a Samaritan woman.  According to the Bible, they wondered what Jesus was doing and they wondered why He talked to a disgusting Samaritan woman.  If they had been in Jesus’ place, they wouldn’t talk with her.  Their reasons for not talking were self-centered ones.  Jews weren’t supposed to talk with Samaritans.  Jews hated Samaritans because of past events.  That’s what made the story of the Good Samaritan so powerful.  But, stop a minute to answer a simple question- why did the disciples miss being with Jesus sharing the truth with this woman?  That’s right, they were buying food.  Who sold them the food?  Samaritans.  You know there was a conversation about food, right?  So, why was it wrong for Jesus to talk to the woman, but not wrong for them to talk to the food suppliers?  A selfish reason, right?  Take the time to admit that the reason you don’t talk to your friends about Jesus is a selfish reason.  We are at a Christian school.  You have the freedom to talk about Jesus.  Take advantage of every opportunity.  You are the best witnesses for each other. 

Jesus is trying to teach the disciples to see other’s needs.  They didn’t so their heads are down like we sometimes do in chapel when we get under conviction.  But Jesus isn’t having anything to do with that.  He is trying to teach them about important things.  I really love the next point Jesus shared.  Before I get to it let me tell you about my son.  My son was a great basketball player in high school, but he had a habit he had to overcome.   Like me, he was his own worst critic.  If he hit his shots, got his rebounds, he was fine.  But if he missed a couple of shots, had a turnover or two, picked up a foul, he started to hang his head.  His performance suffered, and his focus was downward.  His coaches yelled at him to get his head up.  I yelled at him to get his head up and back into the game.  After a few minutes, he would re-focus.  But by the time he was a sophomore, he began to outgrow this habit.  He still might miss shots or make mistakes, but he kept his head in the game. You can’t do what God has called you to do when you are focused on past failure instead of future possibilities.  Jesus was trying to help the disciples with the same problem which brings us to the THIRD step:  we need to focus on the potential possibilities of sharing Christ.  Imagine the disciples as they tried to think through this.  They couldn’t understand it.  With puzzled looks on their faces, they heard Jesus say, “the food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started.  As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest?  Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you.”  As their eyes looked in the direction that Jesus pointed, they saw fields white with harvest.  But the harvest wasn’t a grain crop.  It was the Samaritans, dressed in white clothing, making their way to the Living Water, the Messiah, Jesus, God in the flesh.  In the very city where they went to get food while ignoring those in spiritual need, this woman returned to enthusiastically share the Truth, Jesus was the Messiah.  Her witness aroused the Samaritans who were coming to see the Jew who talked to the Samaritan outcast and changed her life forever.  It was so important that she shared Jesus to those who regarded her as an unworthy outcast that she left her water pot.  The very reason for coming to the well in the middle of the hot day was no longer the most important thing in her life.  Sharing Jesus was.  The disciples may not have known it at the time, but soon they would be sharing the message and reaping the harvest of souls.  Their self-centeredness was gone as they carried out Jesus’ purpose for them.  They were willing to die to accomplish God’s mission.  All but two of His disciples died while sharing the Good News about Jesus.  One killed himself after betraying Jesus, and one lived to be an old man, even though there was a failed attempt to kill him.  As an old man, he had joy because he was doing the will of God by sharing the Gospel to as many as he could.  He longed to see Jesus again but until then, he did God’s will.  This message is a reminder to you to share Jesus.  To recap, the FIRST point is, “to share Jesus we must focus on others  instead of ourselves”,  the SECOND point,  “we must focus on reasons why we should share Jesus more than on reasons why we don’t”, and the THIRD step, “ we need to focus on the possibilities that occur when we share Christ”.

So how do we end this today?  We don’t.  You have a choice.  Are you going to keep focused on yourself, like most people do and miss the opportunity to share Jesus or are you going to focus on doing what God called you to do?   I have asked my friends to pray for this moment.  Will you focus on those who God has brought into your life and look for the opportunities to share Jesus?  Your choice will be made based on who you love the most. 


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