It has always been sort of funny to me what people will focus in on when you speak. You can have an entire conversation and they will zoom into one of the most obscure things you said, completely missing the point of your conversation. It’s particularly true when you preach or teach. I can be humming along in a lesson thinking (hoping) people are tracking with me and I’ll get a text or email about something I said . . . and it will be either be a misheard comment or something that was ancillary to the point of the lesson.
Let me give you two examples: earlier this month I spoke about why truth matters, and when I got home, I had a text from an “unnamed” daughter of mine. She had watched the church service online (she was at work, protecting the good people of Conway), and her text simply said, “Dez caught the ball, and it WAS a fumble.” The comment was based on an illustration I had used . . .and THAT’S what she got. Another time, I mentioned my home town during a sermon . . .the thriving metropolis of Pecos . . . and I had a church member come up and tell me that the town did NOT exist because he had looked on “the google” during the service and couldn’t find it. (NOTE: he tried to spell it phonetically . . . as in “PEYCUS”).
Jesus had similar conversations with his disciples. He would be teaching on, say, the negative influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6), and his disciples were thinking they forgot to pick up a loaf of Wonder bread for the boat ride. Or, after talking to the woman at the well (John 4), he told his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Instead of grasping what he was referring to (doing the will of the Father), they thought maybe someone had brought him lunch while they were in town.
One of the most striking comments Jesus made to his disciples about paying attention is found in John 14. It’s the passage where he tells them that he must go and prepare a place for them. You remember the story – Thomas asks where he’s going and how to get there, and Jesus responds by saying that HE, Jesus, was the way to the Father.
Immediately following this exchange, Phillip, one of the other disciples, said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” In reply, Jesus said, “Don’t you know me Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” Jesus seemed to be saying, “haven’t you been paying attention, Phillip? We’ve been together a long time and you STILL don’t get it?”
I wonder how often Jesus looks at you and me and asks that question. Have you been following me so long and you still don’t understand? Are you listening? Are you paying attention? Have I not shown you enough love and compassion and forgiveness that you still don’t get it? Have I not provided for you and your family? Have I not held you on bad days and filled you with joy on good ones? “Don’t you know me . . .even after I have been among you such a long time?”
What it is that you’re missing, that you don’t understand about Jesus and his love for you? You know, he handled Thomas’ and Phillip’s questions . . .their doubts . . .their fears. He handled Peter’s rejection. He handled the disciples scattering on the night of his betrayal. And through it all he loved and forgave them anyway. He can do the same for you and me.
Don’t you know? If not, just ask.