“Focus on Jesus,” some people say. Or, another way to put it is, “Keep your eye on Jesus.” Where does this expression come from? What’s the downside? What does it really mean?
Jesus fed 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and everyone was full. The leftovers filled 12 baskets. John 6 adds in that the people saw that Jesus was “that prophet” (v 14) and they wanted to force Him to become king (v 15). Jesus then departed to the mountains alone, while the disciples sailed to Capernaum without Him (vv 16 – 17).
23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Peter, who frankly has more guts than I do, wanted to walk on water with Jesus. As long as he focused on Jesus, he was fine. However, the distractions of the waves and winds took his attention away from Jesus, and Peter began to sink.
Notice, though, Jesus’ admonition was focused on faith. Peter’s problem was not on the physical act of looking upon Jesus, but in second guessing his journey and paying attention to the distractions around him.
Peter should have been focused on Jesus as his goal. Think about what that really means, though. This entire life is for a purpose, right? What is that purpose? To become like Jesus. We are to be moving towards developing the mind of Jesus (Php 2:5; Ro 12:2).
To put it another way, far too many mainstream Christians focus on “the person of Jesus” without that having any meaning at all. Much like when they “spiritualize” things, they make them disappear into thin air, by focusing on what they perceive as the person of Jesus, they focus on a false target. They focus on a false perception of Who Christ was and is.
Even the Pharisees, who saw Jesus in the flesh, did not recognize Him for Who He was, in spite of the fact that He was standing right in front of them! Why? Their perception of Who and What the Messiah was supposed to be was so skewed that they could not see Him for Who He really was and still is!
Instead of focusing on becoming like Jesus, far too many focus on making Jesus like themselves.
And, yes, Jesus kept the Sabbath, the holy days, abstained from unclean foods, etc. That’s the example He left us. He also told us that love is the basis for the Law and prophets. He also told us that mercy, faith and judgment (funny how that last one is often overlooked) are “weightier matters of the Law” (Mt 23:23).
We need to keep from getting skewed towards a “person” who is really a figment of our imagination. We need to keep from getting skewed towards the letter of the Law (and thus adding our own traditions upon it). In other words, we need to keep from becoming distracted from actually becoming more like Jesus in every way (Col 3:10).