“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Focus is one of those skills in life which can be very useful. It allows you to work on a task with a single-minded attention on that one task without becoming distracted. It also allows you to work through distractions which seek to deter your focus.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of what Christians for centuries have called Holy Week. It is the week where everything that God the Father asked Jesus to do comes to culmination. In order to do all that his Father asked him to do, Jesus needed an unbelievable single-minded focus. Not only did Jesus have to contend with the temptations of sin and the attacks of Satan which we deal with every moment of our lives, he also had to contend with the constant efforts of the supposed religious leaders of that day to try to trip him up. These “religious leaders” were lurking in the crowd every time Jesus preached a sermon, performed a miracle or even when he was spending time with his disciples or friends. They made every effort they could to try to trip him up with their questions and their lying accusations.
Seeing the focus with which Jesus carried out his mission, our verse for this week calls us to have a similar spiritual focus. Our verse calls us to not just have a focus on a task, but in this most important week in our Christian faith, to focus on Jesus. Our daily devotions for the last week of Lent will help us do that and remind us of all the different things we need to focus on Jesus for during Holy Week.
But just like Jesus faced all sorts of distractions and traps as he worked to carry out his mission, we need to be aware that there are traps and distractions lurking around every corner and arising every day. We don’t have to go far at all to be aware of what tries to trip us up and distract us from focusing on Jesus. Our own self, our own sinful self, is our closest and regular distraction. Each of us is painfully aware of the not so quiet voice inside of us which constantly calls out “Me, Me Me!”.
If that is not enough to deal with, we need to be aware of the world around us which tries to disguise its lies and deception as appealing and harmless. And then the mastermind behind all of this, the devil, is using everything, yes, everything, in our lives to distract our focus away from Jesus and instead would have us focus on and reach toward other things which he constantly paints as more appealing and tempting.
Watch as we go through this Holy Week at how Jesus maintained his focus. He didn’t do it entirely on his own. Even the Son of God turned to his heavenly Father for strength and support to help him maintain his focus. If Jesus needed help to maintain his focus on what God asked him to do, how much more do we need the strength and support which God alone can give to help us focus on Jesus; not just during Holy Week, but every moment of our lives!
Posted by Joel Gaertner
Rev. Joel Gaertner is The Lutheran Home Association Vice President of Ministry and National Director of Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM). He provides spiritual guidance to our entire organization and develops and guides JCM programs in congregations. Pastor Gaertner and his wife, LuAnn, live in Cudahy, Wis., and have two adult children. Outside work, he enjoys golf, walking and watching just about any sporting event, especially the Green Bay Packers.