If you had to rank the top priorities evidenced in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, what would they be? What are the top priorities in your life and ministry? How would these two lists compare?
In Mark 1:35-39 the gospel writer reveals the priorities of Jesus in his scheduling of time and energy. Priorities aren’t just things we talk about, they are revealed in hourly, weekly, monthly choices.
For Jesus, prayer was a priority.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” We know that prayer can take place anywhere, but convenience isn’t always conducive for this spiritual discipline. In the darkness, Jesus slipped out of the house (Peter and Andrew’s) and headed out to meet with his Father. In a day when alarm clocks were non-existent, surely the Spirit of God stirred the Son of God in this direction.
As Simon and the other followers awoke to begin a new day, they found Jesus was absent. They went looking and found him, collectively exclaiming, “Everyone is looking for you.” Was this an overstatement? Were they trying to communicate the popularity of Jesus when just the night before the whole town had gathered at the door?
The busier one’s schedule gets, the more challenging spiritual disciplines are to maintain. Jesus demonstrates what he will later call his followers to obey – “Seek FIRST the kingdom of GOD and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS….” Prioritize your relationship with God not just occasionally but in your daily routines.
Popularity wasn’t the primary quest of this preacher. The response of Jesus to the appeal of popularity is to prioritize further proclamation. Ministry ‘success’ tempts one to ‘relish’ the moment, savour the compliments and continue to maintain the momentum.
Jesus hadn’t come to pursue popularity. “Let us go somewhere else–so I can preach there also. THAT is why I have come.” Preaching the news of God’s kingdom was primary. Whether crowds responded or not, the priority of proclamation echoed in the ears of these followers. They would later preach. They would later pray. They would later be called to the priorities of pastoral leadership. What they saw they would replicate.
Some of these ‘followers’ on this occasion, would become ‘leaders’ of other ‘followers’ in the future. Is it any surprise in Acts 6, when the crisis of food distribution challenged the church, the leaders prioritized PRAYER and the MINISTRY of THE WORD? (Acts 6:4) What they had learned by observing Jesus had shaped them deeply? Priorities won’t set themselves, we must make the hard choices.