Summary: A sermon on the importance of living within God's Will that comes by way of being attentive to Him not simply during morning devotions, but throughout the entire day.
1. Opening thoughts about how we are all distracted, especially as it relates to God
2. John 5.16-19 Context
3. Jesus operated totally within His Father’s Will, which means he was God-attentive
4. We need to be God-attentive, throughout the day
5. Examples of people who were God-attentive (Brother Lawrence, Frank Laubach)
6. We need to be intentional about living the God-attentive life
Good morning. Quick question. How many of you are easily distracted? Some of you are distracted right now. I imagine if we are honest with ourselves, everybody is easily distracted at times. Something as simple as you just are introduced to somebody and you hear their name, and two minutes later you forget the name and you have to introduce that person to another person and that is very embarrassing. Again, it is just because we didn’t pay attention. Or maybe you are driving down the road traveling on your family vacation. You happen to be on your phone or, God forbid, you are texting, and you miss the exit and are forced to drive another 30 miles to your trip. Anybody every do that? Been there, done that. Or let’s say it is late in the afternoon or early evening and you are watching the evening news, and you are really focusing on that. Your wife says I have to run out and get something from the grocery store. I will be right back. So you are sitting there watching the news and all of a sudden the phone rings. It is your wife, and she has a question for you. And you annoyingly ask ‘Where are you?’ She, in her sweetest voice, says pay attention. I just told you I was going to the grocery store. Anybody experience that? Not me but some of you have.
All kidding aside, we are all guilty of not paying attention at times. We are easily distracted. That is because we have the ability to carry many different things in our minds. Many different thoughts in our mind at one time. Although our failure to pay attention in this life generally has minimal consequences, as we will see today, if we fail to pay attention to God, it can eventually really impact our devotional life, our prayer life, and more than that it can hinder our growth and transformation into Christ-likeness.
Today, we are going to look at the importance of being God attentive, which simply means a life of ongoing attention to God. As we talked about last week, if anything, Jesus was very God attentive because he had a very rich prayer life. We also mentioned how, for Jesus, prayer wasn’t the end in itself. It wasn’t something he would check off his spiritual check list so to speak. It was a means to an end. The end being the greater attentiveness to God and really to continue to live within God’s will, within God’s desires. If anything, as we will see in today’s passage, Jesus was fully in tuned to the will of God. So much so that it seems he couldn’t have even operated outside of his will.
A little context before we touch on the passage in John 5:16-19. In the early part of chapter five, we see Jesus traveling around the countryside. He ends up in this town of Bethesda at what is called the pool of Bethesda which is really a man-made pool so to speak that was believed to have healing properties or powers when the water was stirred up. Apparently, people would gather from all across the country, the lame, the crippled, and the blind, hoping to be healed of their ailment. The story goes that Jesus saw a man that had been paralyzed for 38 years and had been coming for years to the pool of Bethesda. He walks up to him and asks him ‘Do you want to be well?’ At that point, the man begins to make all sorts of excuses. He says when the water is stirred there is nobody there to help me. Or when the water is stirred, I can never make it down there. Somebody always beats me into the pool. So he is making these excuses. Jesus just says ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ And immediately the man was healed. He began to walk. He picked up his mat and he walked. Although that was good news for the paralyzed man, in some sense it was bad news for Jesus because he immediately became a target of criticism from the Pharisees and the teachers of the law because he was performing this miracle on the Sabbath, similar to our Sunday. That was against Jewish law because it was considered work. Jesus comes back with a great response in John 5:17 when he hears their criticism. He says “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working.” This really kind of enraged them a little bit. Not only was Jesus healing somebody on the Sabbath and working on the Sabbath, he was giving the impression that there was some sort of equality or family relationship with God. They begin grumbling and Jesus responds again in verse 19 when He says “I tell you the truth. The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” Again, these words get the Pharisees so upset that they want to kill him, but to us it reveals Jesus’ sole focus while on earth: to live within the Father’s will. To totally be his will conformed to the Father’s will. There are a lot of passages that speak about Jesus’s submission to God’s will or his desire to live out the will of God. One in particular is earlier in chapter four of John. The disciples are telling Jesus you haven’t eaten in a while so you are probably hungry and you need to eat some food. Jesus replies is classic. John 4.34 He says “‘My food,’ said Jesus ‘is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.’” Another passage that just seems to really emphasize that Jesus operated totally within his Father’s will. These two passages, at a minimum, seem confusing to us, and at a maximum, seem very restricting, very confining. Almost on the borderline of being enslaved. As Americans, we don’t like this idea because we are generally independent people. We are independent thinkers. We are independent doers. We want to do our own thing. This just sounds very restrictive. Bordering on slavery. The question that can easily be asked at this point is whether or not Jesus even had the ability to act freely. In other words, did Jesus have free will? That is a question that a lot of people ask. I would say that he did have free will. We will talk about this more when we talk about the idea of being sin resistant, but I believe that Jesus had free will but that he chose to submit that will to God. He chose to submit his will to God’s will. A place that this is really clearly evident is in the scene in the garden the night before his crucifixion. He is in the garden praying with his disciples. He is feeling a lot of stress, heavy emotion, and sorrow. Kind of almost mentally in anguish. In Luke 22.42 Luke writes “He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” This passage seems to emphasize that Jesus had a will and a will of his own, but he chose to operate according to the Father’s will. All the way up to the crucifixion. He could have said I don’t want to do this crucifixion. He had the freedom to walk away from it in some sense, but he lived according to the very prayer that he taught the disciples. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. He lived according to that.