JOHN THE BAPTIST AND GOLDFISH

April 01, 2021

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 

A 2015 Time magazine article references a Microsoft study that concludes we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Because of the increasing digitization of our culture, our brains are capable of only 8 seconds of concentrated focus. This falls just shy of the attention span of the goldfish, which is closer to 9 seconds.   

We’ve grown so accustomed to the daily stream of incessant information that we dart from one thing to the next, never giving it another thought. If it fails to hold our interest, we move on.  

(Are you still paying attention?)  

The words of John the Baptist focus our attention on the most important event in history – the sacrificial death of the Son of God for the sins of mankind.  

John likens Jesus to the lamb that was sacrificed in the temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the people. Jesus, the true Lamb of God, became the final sacrifice that wouldn’t just momentarily cover sins, but take them away once and for all (Heb. 7:27). 

Flogged within an inch of His life and brutally executed on a Roman cross, Jesus died in our place like a “lamb led to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7).  He was forsaken so we might be forgiven.  He was punished so we could receive peace.  He wore a crown of thorns so one day we might wear a crown of life.  

Don’t miss this: John doesn’t want us to merely look at Jesus, but to “behold” Him. The word, “behold” implies more than just a quick, casual glance. The attention span of a goldfish definitely won’t work here. We are to intentionally fix our gaze upon Jesus, eliminating distractions so we see Him for who He truly is.  

Sounds great in theory, but it’s hard to practice, isn’t it?  

Culture doesn’t encourage us to behold Jesus. Instead, it offers us an endless smorgasbord of colorful diversions. Yet, beholding Jesus is essential to following Jesus.  

We can’t remain close to Jesus by allotting Him 2% of our weekly attention. Contemplating what Jesus has done on our behalf should fill our minds with wonder and our hearts with worship. 

William Blake, the 19th century English poet, writes, “We become what we behold.”  Simply put, we are shaped by what occupies our attention.

What are you beholding right now? It’s a sad reality, but most of us are shaped more by entertainment and media than the Lamb of God. 

The Easter season provides us an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what Jesus has done for us.  

One suggestion – read the Passion narrative in John 18 & 19. As you read, ponder this: Where would I be if Jesus hadn’t done this on my behalf?

Let’s show those goldfish who’s boss. Jesus is worthy of way more than 8 seconds of our attention.  

 

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH