Let's go back in time, shall we.
Whizzapp! (That's the sound of time travel. Look it up in the future.)
You open your eyes and you find yourself in Israel at the time of Jesus!
The wind blows softly on the side of a mountain near Capernaum, where you are among the crowd of people gathered to hear Him speak.
You breathe it in and notice It has a freshness that seems to fill you and everyone else with hope.
There are two reasons for this.
First, the sea is nearby!
The mixture of the scent of mountain grass combined with the salty water gives you a sense of optimism.
(Seaside towns always have a work hard, play hard kind of feel!)
The second reason you feel so hopeful and expectant is the most important.
The very air you are breathing is the same air that, in just moments, will be inhaled by the one called Messiah!
He is about to take in the same oxygen you both share and use it to vibrate His vocal cords in a way that will affect mankind for centuries!
His teaching will be so important that He spent 40 days in a wilderness alone just to pray and get ready to deliver it.
His words on this day will have so great an impact, that even the enemy, the top bad guy, the lowest of the low, Satan himself will do anything he can to throw Him off His game!
It all worked out in the end. Satan took a hike and Jesus was able to get back to civilization and choose 12 teaching assistants.
Everything seems ready. He has prepared so much for this very moment! Here we go!
Jesus speaks. It's wonderful!
Such wisdom! "Blessed are the poor in spirit!" "Love your enemies!" The Lord's prayer!
You expect to see big smiles, dropped jaws, wide eyed amazement.
But you don't.
You see blank stares.
Some people even look a bit angry.
One guy is looking at the ground!
What is going on? Is anybody listening? You are a bit angry!
Come on people...do you know what you have here? We should be clapping and shouting loud "Amen's"!
Here's a little secret I have come to learn about people and still struggle to put into practice.
When you are speaking to someone, it doesn't matter if you are a server at Tim Horton's or a politician...
...people seem to always have a WEIRD LOOK on their face when they are listening to you!
I believe even the Lord Jesus looked out into a sea of faces that were seriously lacking in any kind of discernible expression. What do you do?
Don't be fooled by it! I believe that when the brain is engaged, the face turns off.
It's like it just disconnects and leaves all the muscles that should make you look happy and excited to just go limp.
If you have ever seen pictures of yourself in a crowd, you know what I mean.
You know what, it's OK! Don't worry about it! It's a good thing!
Speaking in front of an audience is not an exercise in judging people's reactions, at least it shouldn't be.
I get a little annoyed when a speaker constantly needs feedback from the crowd.
"You are here give something to us, we are not here to make YOU feel good!"
Jesus was not like this, we know. He had no ego to bruise if no one shouted an amen.
I think there is so much going on in the heart of the listener, that all other bodily functions go into suspended animation. It's like hitting pause during the movie of your life.
To make this even clearer, I think about the story Jesus told about the sower.
In those days you had to fling your seeds far and wide in order to get the most return on your crops.
If you read it for yourself, you will discover there were a variety of results depending on where thew seeds landed. That's a whole other topic, but for now let's just imagine a perfect scenario.
The seed hit good ground, went deep and has all it needs to grow. Mission accomplished!
Now all the cool stuff happens underground!
We can't see it! The ground is the blank stare that Jesus must have encountered on the hill that day.
Underneath the cold, dark land, something pretty amazing is happening.
Dirt and chemicals are all mixing in a glorious miracle!
In time, we will all see the result, but for a while all we get is the stark barrenness of a patch of empty space.
That empty space is where there is going to be a fabulous work of art.
It may take a few days, a few years or even a few decades!
We are not in control at that point!
Even Jesus knew it. He must have, because we are still talking about the words he spoke.
It's been a couple millennia since the seeds were planted and the fruit continues!
Those stares must have been pretty vacant because the Good Seed was planted down deep in the soul!
Don't be turned off by a blank stare, if you've got good stuff to say, go ahead and speak!