How often we hear the word priority tossed around? How often does it sound nicer to lie down for a nap than to dust your home? How much nicer does it sound to buy yourself that one thing you really wanted rather than save your money in the bank? How much nicer does it sound to take an extra-long breakfast than rush to work? How much nicer does it sound to sleep in than go to church? Priorities are not easy to keep in check.
This mixture of priorities isn’t something we only mess up in regards to our daily, earthly concerns. We can mix things up even with our spiritual concerns. As a kid, I loved church. But I loved my bed more. Once I was at church, I was glad I went. But getting myself to get up and go to church — not as easy.
We find all sorts of ways to mix up our priorities, even when God is thrown into the mix. We’d rather sleep or vacation than go to church. We’d rather be able to leave church early than stay for communion. We’d rather spend money on eating lunch out than placing it in the offering basket. We’d rather chat than hear the word of God read and preached. We’d rather have our down time than get involved in the ministries of God. We’d rather watch TV than read God’s word. Have I convicted you? I’ve convicted myself. I don’t always have my priorities set right. I’m prone to put things that I’d say are more “fun” before my need for eternal salvation. This is the way of man.
In Mark 1:29-39 Jesus began his ministry as a man. He called his disciples and immediately begins healing people and preaching. What a miraculous thing to see. Could you imagine seeing someone touch a person and cure them of paralysis or some other disease? How amazing! Could you imagine seeing someone speak simple words and a demon being cast out from a man? Incredible! Imagine how popular such a person would be!
Such a man that could truly heal and cast out demons would be super popular, especially in a time before modern medicine, but Jesus did even more. He preached with authority, unlike anyone else ever had. Jesus was practically a celebrity. People weren’t distracted by movies, games, or other big forms of entertainment. Jesus was the excitement of their time. How simple it would have been for Jesus to stay where he was and dwell in the popularity and fame he had amassed in his current region. He’d have had all his needs for this earthly life fulfilled, easily.
But that’s not what Jesus did. He kept his priorities in their proper order. He kept God above all things. He didn’t let little distractions get in his way or confuse him. And he had every reason to want to mix up his priorities. He knew the reason he had come to this earth as a man was to die a brutal death on a cross. How tempting it must have been simply not to go to the cross, but stay where he was comfortable.
But that’s not what he did. Christ was perfect, keeping God above all else. Even as his disciples told him that everyone was looking for him, he told them he needed to go on to the next towns so that he could preach there, for that was why he was sent. Nothing would get in the way of what God’s will was for him, and God’s will was to save us.
This answers another confusion that we often can come to believe. Rather than mixing up just our own priorities, we get confused about God’s priorities. Have you ever thought that your troubles were too trivial or small for God to care about? Surely he’s got bigger more important things to worry over. He doesn’t have time for little ole’ me. Right? Or maybe because he didn’t answer your prayer immediately the way you wanted or expected him to, it must not be a priority to him. It may seem that way, but that’s not the case.
At the very creation of this world, God made mankind his priority. Even as Adam and Eve broke his law, he made them his priority by promising a savior to save them. He sent Jesus Christ and he lived a life of healing and preaching. Finally, he died, taking the sins of the world upon himself entirely to save mankind. This is the proof. You are God’s priority. So much so that he would put his only son to death for you. There is nothing more important in this world to God than you.
God knew that man could not save himself. No one in God’s word was healed because they kept their priorities straight. They were healed because Jesus did. No one is saved because they keep their priorities just right. They’re saved for one reason: Jesus Christ. And he continues to prove us his priority. He hasn’t left or forsaken us, but continues to come to us each day in his word and sacraments. We’re never without him because that’s how important we are to him.
So rejoice! You are God’s priority! So much that also has sent his Holy Spirit to you. In Christ’s death you have been freed from the priorities of sin and the law put on you. You’ve been freed from the need to earn salvation. By God’s Spirit, you’ve been gifted with his priorities. The Spirit now enables you to live with right priorities, freed from the punishment and worries of sin’s priorities. And you know that the promise that God has given you of forgiveness will never be taken from you. Because you are his priority. You will live with him forever in glory!
Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.