November 2, 2020
tells us that from His seaside pulpit -
a small fishing boat - Jesus "taught
them many things" on one occasion (Mark
4:2). And, mind you, these "many things"
were in addition to the lengthy parable
of the sower and soil that followed (see
I wonder how long it took Jesus to fully
teach all these "many things"? Probably
not minutes but hours! Yet the people,
so far as the record indicates, didn't
seem to mind. Why?
Their spiritual interest was very high!
They believed Jesus was teaching the
very Word of God and it was a life and
death matter of eternal consequence. So
they treated it as such. Nowhere in the
four Gospels do we have any record of
people complaining about how long Jesus
preached and taught, or how long His
healing and deliverance meetings lasted.
Not one complaint was registered in His
three years of ministry.
The same is true of the early church in
the Book of Acts, with a few exceptions.
Luke informs us on one occasion when
Paul broached the subject of the
resurrection, the rationalistic Athenian
intellectuals politely interrupted him,
saying they would "hear thee again of
this matter" (Acts 17:32).
But on another occasion, when Paul
"continued his speech until midnight,"
one of his congregants, a young man,
fell from a third floor window, died,
and was raised by Paul's prayers (Acts
20:6-12). We would expect everyone to
sing and shout praises to Christ for
this miracle, shake Paul's hand, hug
each other, and go home. But the meeting
wasn't over. Paul "talked a long while,
even till break of day" (v. 12). While
not stated, one gets the feeling Paul's
hearers didn't seem to mind. Why? They
were insatiably hungry for more of Jesus
and His Word.
As practical as they were spiritual, the
people in Jesus' meetings brought their
food with them to "church." And on more
than one occasion His teaching went on
so long He had to feed the throngs of
listeners so they would not faint for
hunger while returning to their homes.
Where did they get this extraordinary
interest in spiritual things?
It came from the Spirit of God! They
were in the full flow of what we call
"revival," or a "move of the Holy
Spirit," or a "spiritual renewal."
Consequently, they were enthralled and
captivated with Jesus. When He asked
them to "hearken" (Mark 4:3), or listen
attentively, their response was
immediate and their spiritual attention
span amazing. They simply could not get
enough of His Word. But where are we
When a pastor or speaker exceeds 30
minutes, murmurings rumble through the
congregation. Some fidget. Others look
repeatedly at their watches. Some begin
texting. Others quietly duck out to
attend to things they consider more
important (golf, fishing, and so forth).
Rather than examine themselves, they
typically blame the minister. But let's
be honest here.
The same congregants manifest unlimited
attentiveness about other things. We
will eagerly watch a football or
basketball game for hours, including
multiple overtime periods, and be
disappointed when it ends. We will shout
and holler for hours at a political
rally, and linger for another hour or
two to chat with others holding our
views. We will watch one, two, or even
three movies, one right behind the
other, at a single sitting without
twitching, texting, or tweeting. We will
play cards or golf or tennis several
hours at a stretch and love every minute
of it. Or we will "shop till we drop"
with inexhaustible consumer zeal. These,
my friend, are the facts. What do they
tell us about ourselves?
Not what we want to hear! We suffer from
chronic, severe spiritual
inattentiveness, especially to the
deeper things of God. But Christ can
heal us in one moment of confession and
total surrender. If we want to be
healed. If we want to be like the
disciples who listened to Jesus by
Galilee. If we want to be like the early
Christians to whom Paul ministered. When
Jesus Christ truly gets our attention,
as He deserves, we will lengthen our
interest in biblical truth and our walk
and work with Christ, giving it the
place in our lives it should command.
misunderstand. We who minister must
realize that, when it comes to sermons,
longer is not always better. And we
should certainly send God's people home
before they faint or famish of hunger.
Also, I'm not suggesting congregants
bring their food with them to church and
munch and crunch in between "amens"
(though I notice candy seems to be the
pacifier of choice in our fellowship to,
I suppose, "sweeten" the message?). But
as believers, we should ask ourselves
this searching question?
Why do I have endless interest, energy,
excitement, and patience about worldly
matters such as those mentioned above,
yet so little for the most important
matter in life: knowing Christ and His
Word so we may walk closely with Him,
please Him, build His spiritual kingdom,
finish our course, and be ready for the
things to come?
Rather than try to suggest a reason,
I'll just let the Holy Spirit take over
here and work in our consciences until
we come up with the correct answer . . .
Submitting to His Examination,