Learning From Jesus: Dealing With Those Who Demand Our Time
Next time you are reading in the Gospels, pay attention to two little words:
The words “came to” appear in the Gospels 56 times (NIV), each time describing someone who “came to” Jesus. In each instance someone sought Jesus out. Each time someone needed something from Jesus. Here are but a few examples . . .
- Matt. 8:5—When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
- Matt. 15:30—Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.
- Matt. 19:3—Some Pharisees came to him to test him.
- Mark 10:50—Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
- Matt. 15:12—Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
- John 3:2—[Nicodemus] came to Jesus at night . . .
How did Jesus do it? There were so many who came to Him! It must have been virtually non-stop.
Surveying the passages of Scripture where Jesus is addressing people, there seems at times to be a great tension. Here is Jesus, the God-man, walking the earth in human form, fulfilling the Plan set forth before time. He was being and doing all that was intended for Him to do. Preaching, teaching, healing, convicting . . . And yet, there were times it when the constant pull on His time and faculties had to take its toll. But even as we see this tension in Jesus, the tension between fulfilling His purpose on this earth and the nearly overwhelming demand on His time, we see that He never wavered in His commitment to be present. Jesus consistently met the needs of those who earnestly sought Him out.
You can relate, can't you?
As a youth worker, your time is constantly filled with demands, with people "coming to" you. People who need you. People who need something from you. They need your time and your attention. What can we learn from Jesus how to handle this demand?
Jesus gave those who sought Him out a wonderful gift: His time. He gave His attention. He listened to people. He addressed their individual needs.
He could have waived His hand and blessed the whole lot of them. But He didn’t. It at least seems like He healed them one by one. That He took the time to heal, and answer, and dialogue. Many times His answers were different, individualized. He treated people not as the masses, but as the individual.
Honestly, this owns me. We look at Jesus' death as His greatest sacrifice. It surely was the most important sacrifice! But maybe the greatest sacrifice ever made was the initial decision to step out of heaven and to take on a body that needed food and sleep and water to function properly, and to place Himself within a community that was so needy, so misunderstanding, and so demanding . . .
When we think of the cross as the only sacrifice Jesus made, we're missing it.
When we think of Jesus' sacrifice, we must think of everyday Jesus spent between two eternities, cloaked in humanity, dealing with the ugly, messy, tiring work of life-on-life interaction that defined His earthly ministry. Because when we think of this, we come to a new understanding of how we are called to handle those who make demands of our time and attention.
Some questions for you to think about today:
- What changes do you need to make in your attitude toward those who demand your time and attention?
- How can you honor Christ today by giving of your time, even when it’s not convenient?
- Who needs to be listened to in your life?
- Who needs to be provided for today?
- What requests, as inconvenient as they may be, need to be met with patience and compassion?
How we deal with those who need us may be the easiest way we can reflect Christ today.