Illustration: Imagine for a moment that you've just spotted Osama bin Laden. Wow! How would the danger . . . or the opportunity . . . of that situation strike you? You'd probably be in a foreign land, most likely in a very dangerous place. Would you take a nap, right at that moment? I don't think so! The adrenalin would race through your body, and every thing you touched would be super sensitive. You'd smell the air, look for the slightest movement, and hear the faintest of sounds. Your senses would be on edge, at their sharpest points.
Perhaps, when the threat of overwhelming danger wore off just a bit, you'd remember the bounty that's on bin Laden's head. That's $50 million out there for grabs, and $50 million goes a long ways, these days. It would change your life, in an instant, if you could simply survive long enough to report the world's most wanted man to the right authorities.
No, you wouldn't take a nap. You'd stay focused on your prize. And no, you wouldn't walk away from such a situation saying, "Well, I'm glad I saw that, but it won't affect the rest of my life." Of course it would affect the rest of your life! The danger would never be forgotten. The thrill of the action that followed would mean you wouldn't sleep soundly for weeks. And your checking account would be significantly changed, too. Such a moment would not be a casual moment. You'd be fixed upon that moment, and all that it meant.
Here's the Bible's message when it tells us to "fix our eyes upon Jesus." Following Jesus is not a careless, casual part of life. The way a spy spots his target, we're to put everything into following Christ. Frankly, if the Bible's message is true, it is worth that kind of effort. If it is not true, it is not worth any effort at all. Perhaps that's the challenge of this passage. Make up your mind to really fix your mind on Christ. And then, start to enjoy the rewards that come from living with that fixation.
I. The Bible tells us Jesus is worthy of worship
(Read Hebrews 1:1-4)
A teaching opportunity: Print this passage in your sermon outline, and have people circle, underline or highlight the key phrases. Then, list the following attributes of Christ.
He owns it all.
He made it all.
He reflects the complete radiance of God's glory.
He is the exact representation of God's being.
He continues to sustain all things.
He paid the price for our sin.
He rules it all.
Because Jesus is worthy of worship, no external circumstances ever change that fact.
Illustration: I once preached a sermon that offered a challenge to give God praise during some very difficult moments. That gift of praise, at that moment, is a gift you cannot give during most of your days, since most of our days are not terribly difficult. But when it is given during tough times, it is a precious gift to the Lord.
Not long after that message, an older woman in our church family was involved in a terrible car accident. She suffered several injuries, including a cut across her head that caused a good deal of blood loss at the scene of the accident. I found her in the emergency room, almost overwhelmed with pain. In a moment, I was almost overwhelmed with her gift of praise to God.
"A woman came to me in the road," she told me in short breaths. "She prayed with me. She sang with me. And I sang with her. You were right . . . it makes all the difference to sing in that moment!"
She recovered from her injuries, but neither one of us recovered from the great truth: Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship, in every situation.
II. Jesus said he was worthy of worship
When Jesus claimed to be worthy of worship, it infuriated the religious leaders who heard his claims. His claim of being the Messiah, of being "equal to God," was the root of their efforts to have him executed. (John 5:18)
During his last night with the disciples, Jesus pointed to the countless miracles his followers had seen, and then spoke very plainly to them.
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:9-14 (HCSB)
III. Faith moves us to worship Jesus
There may be nothing that will move a man to action faster than seeing his child in danger. There may be nothing that strips away prejudice or pride faster from a man than the desperation he feels when his child is sick.
His name was Jairus, and he was a dad. He was also a synagogue ruler, which meant he was immersed in the things of God. He knew the scripture perhaps better than anyone else in his community. He must have seen or heard of many who claimed to be important - rabbis who traveled the land with their followers, just like Jesus.
He must have heard the stories that circulated around Jesus. People claimed to have been healed by Jesus of a variety of diseases. Some who hadn't walked in years were dancing with new joy. Some who hadn't been able to see were telling everyone of their new sight. Others who'd been sick for weeks were back at work. The stories were everywhere, but Jairus kept a wary eye on the rabbi called Jesus.
But then his daughter fell sick. She was really sick. The usual medicines, the usual treatments, weren't working. She was failing fast, and already he could see people starting to give up on his daughter.
And just then, he heard that Jesus was back.
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. Luke 8:40-42
Jairus fell at the feet of another man, submitting not to God, but to his daughter's only hope. This wasn't a profession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God . . . it was just a daddy trying anything to save his daughter's life.
The entire encounter turned into a slow-moving nightmare. No one would move out of the way. The could-be miracle worker didn't run. The crowds didn't give. People didn't understand. A woman touched Jesus, and was healed. The crowd had to hear every detail. Jesus stopped to teach, and the last few seconds of hope ticked away.
Time stood still. It was over. All hope was gone.
Then there was a hand on his shoulder. It was Jesus. And the words spoken must have seemed incomprehensible. "Don't be afraid, Jairus. Just believe. She will be healed." (Luke 8:50)
And at this moment, faith enters the picture. Was Jairus a committed follower of Jesus at this moment? No, not just yet. But he clung to Jesus as if Jesus was his only hope, the only thread of the rope still keeping him from falling, and he kept moving. He would at least give Jesus a chance. He was trying his best to answer the command Jesus had given him: "Just believe!"
That bit of faith to keep walking turned out to be the bridge that carried Jarius to a miracle of life-changing proportions.
After He came to the house, He let no one enter with Him except Peter, John, James, and the child's father and mother. Everyone was crying and mourning for her. But He said, "Stop crying, for she is not dead but asleep." They started laughing at Him, because they knew she was dead. So He took her by the hand and called out, "Child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then He gave orders that she be given something to eat. Her parents were astounded, but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:51-56 (HCSB)
"Astonished." "Astonished?" Is there a word to describe what happened in that home? A dead child suddenly stirring, moving, opening her eyes? A man at the center of the healing who acted as if he actually knew this would happen? A man so confident that he announced to the early arrivers at the funeral that they might as well go home? A man so in control of the situation that he actually asked them not to tell?
Only God could orchestrate such a miracle. Only God has control of life, and Jairus knew that. He was convinced of it. And yet here, just here, he was faced with something that couldn't be true. A man walked into his home and exercised complete control over life and death.
Only God could do that.
Had Jarius only read some religious words from an ancient document, Jarius likely would have never believed. But the beautiful young woman growing up in his home was an every-day testimony, an every-day witness, that Jesus was exactly who he said he was, and that Jesus was worthy of worship.
So who was Jesus? Jarius decided Jesus was worthy of his worship.
However, people all around Jarius, and all around us, would and do struggle with that answer for the rest of his ministry. Once, some of Jarius' co-workers grilled him. They hammered him. They pestered him. Finally they said, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!" (John 10:24)
Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:25 (HCSB)
Jarius knew that Jesus was worthy of worship, that Jesus and the Father were indeed one, because Jarius had encountered Jesus in a personal, desperate way. When he had no hope, Jesus had become his hope, and his salvation. There was life in his home because of Jesus. Despair had been avoided because of Jesus. Everything in the Scripture he loved was different now, interpreted in the light of what God was doing right in the middle of Jarius' life.
Because of what had happened, could Jarius have possibly denied that Jesus was the exact representation of God, "sustaining all things by his powerful word?" (Hebrews 1:3)
Jarius knew this about Jesus:
Jesus owns it all.
Jesus made it all.
Jesus reflects the complete radiance of God's glory.
Jesus is the exact representation of God's being.
Jesus continues to sustain all things.
Jesus paid the price for our sin.
Jesus rules it all.
Jesus was worthy of his worship.
IV. Jesus is worthy of your personal confession of worship
This series of messages is about the phrase, "fix your eyes upon Jesus," or "fix your thoughts on Jesus."
If you find one of the two places this phrase appears in the New Testament, you'll find it directly in the context of confessing Jesus.
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Before there can ever be a move toward discipleship, or bearing fruit, or all the purpose-driven goals we would desire, there has to be a simple confession of faith.
Jesus asked for it from all who followed him. Surrounded by a carnal climate in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus would turn to the disciples and ask: "Who do you say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) Peter would make the bold confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (Matthew 16:16)
For blind men who desperately wanted to see, Jesus first asked if they could see a spiritual truth.
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied. Matt. 9:28 (HCSB)
When a woman was nearly overwhelmed with her grief, Jesus wouldn't move toward a miracle until he heard Martha's answer: "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." John 11:26-27 (HCSB)
In a moment, Martha's brother was alive again, and Martha's deep friendship for Jesus turned into worship.
Sheer, unapologetic worship.
What else would you do in the presence of God?
Did she understand all the nuances of what God was up to? No more than you or I would. But she saw what she saw, and she knew only God could exercise such incredible control over life and death.
She worshipped him. She confessed Jesus as all he said he was.
Illustration: Kevin Martin, from St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Seattle, told a story about two comments he heard one Sunday after services. The first was from a new member, who enthusiastically said, "This is one of the greatest worship experiences I've ever had!" Moments later, another member approached him and snapped, "The organ absolutely ruined worship for me this morning!" He said it was hard to believe both people were in the same worship service.
It's not about the music. It's not about the speaker. It's not about the great friendships. It's about Jesus. Every moment, every effort, every breath. It's all about him.
The most important element in any worship service is the heart of the person attending the service. If your heart is bent toward God when you walk in the door - it will be full of God when you walk out. Worship can be defined as "getting drenched with God." It can happen anytime you want it to; it's simply a matter of preparing yourself, and simply a matter of coming face to face, heart to heart, with Jesus Christ.