Running Rules for a Strong Finish: Rule #4: Fix our Eyes on Jesus 

May 2016

Steve Cox“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2 The word in the original language for “fix our eyes” in this passage means, to intentionally look away from one thing so as to be able to focus on another. 

We physical therapists evaluate people’s movement patterns, to help workers perform tasks more efficiently, or athletes to compete more effectively. This involves initially looking at the whole person and their movement patterns. But, after watching a number of repetitions, we often find one part of the body that seems to be moving incorrectly. We then have to look away from everything else and fix our eyes on this one body part, looking intently to identify whether the problem is caused by muscle tightness, muscle weakness, improper training, or something else. We cannot diagnose correctly without fixing our eyes on the cause in order to formulate a solution. The need to deliberately look away from distractions, and to intentionally focus on what is priority, is common to many aspects of our daily lives. It is also true of our spiritual lives. One excellent example is found in Matthew chapter 14. To understand the significance of this example, we first must make sure we understand the full context of this event.

Earlier, in Matthew chapter 9, we come to a transition, in Jesus’ ministry to the masses, and his training of the Twelve. He is entering the later phases of his ministry, and as he sees the crowds, he tells his disciples: ““The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Mt9:38-39

He not only instructs his disciples to pray, he also “gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” instructing them to perform miracles and “go out to proclaim the good news” to the people of Israel. Shortly after the Twelve return from their first independent ministry trip, they are faced with the dilemma of a crowd of more than five thousand who have come to hear Jesus’ teaching. The disciples encourage Jesus to “send the people away, so they can buy themselves some food.” (Keep in mind Jesus has given his disciples his authority to perform miracles). Jesus tells them the people do not need to be sent away. He says: “you give them something to eat.” Unfortunately, the disciples don’t understand that Jesus is encouraging them to fix their eyes on him, to rely on his authority, in order to accomplish the miraculous. 

Jesus then sends the Twelve out to cross the sea in a small boat. That evening, in the middle of a terrible storm, the Twelve encounter Jesus walking on the water. It appears that at this point Peter understands Jesus wants his followers to stay fixed on him, and rely on him for the power to accomplish that which is miraculous. Peter says to Jesus: “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter then “got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:29-31)

Peter took a true step of faith, in obedience to his Master, trusting him to provide in a difficult situation. As long as he kept his eyes fixed, intentionally looking away from one thing, the storm, to keep his attention focused on another, on Jesus, he was able to accomplish what we believe to be humanly impossible. But, as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and fixed his eyes on the storm, he began to sink. 

The same is true of us. We all face storms in our lives. As we run the race of living for Jesus, there is much working against us, and many distractions. If we focus on our difficulties and how seemingly insurmountable they are, we will be begin to sink. 

It is only through a determined and consistent fixing of our eyes on our Savior, that we will keep a true godly perspective on life, and stay in intimate relationship with Jesus, so that he can work miraculously through our lives. May we all grow in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

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