Priority, according to Merriam-Webster’s, is “…a preferential rating; especially: one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply; or something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.”
Every morning, okay, almost every morning, I list on a 3 by 5 card the priorities of my day. This way I can keep before me the most important things I want to accomplish on that day. After I make my list, one or two stick out as priorities for that day.
Somehow, I don’t think Jesus needed a 3 by 5 card to remind him of his priority.
Peter Drucker made some observations years ago about this word: priority. I have forgotten where, but he said that only recently, during the 20th century, do you find the plural use of this word. At one time, we spoke only of priority. We did not have priorities only a priority.
Imagine my list today looked something like this:
- Put the garbage out.
- Call for a doctor’s appointment.
- Meet with a client.
- Finish project with my son.
- Mow the yard.
- Love my wife.
- Be with God.
- Do what God wants me to do.
Now immediately, you would say this list needs re-prioritizing. The most important things are on the bottom.
Maybe Drucker’s observation speaks here. The last two have nothing to do with but everything to do with how I will accomplish all I do today. Those last two items are in a class all by themselves. Those two items are my priority. I am not sure what you call the other items, but Drucker and Jesus would tell me, “Ken, your priority is to love God today.”
Jesus told his disciples on the night of his betrayal, we love God by keeping his commands. His command is simply this: love others as I have loved you.
Jesus had a priority, love the Father. This meant everything the Father asked him to do, he would do. Nothing would be left undone. As we read the gospels, we know during this week he was in Jerusalem. Every night sleeping in the garden but during the day he was in the temple teaching the people. He was fulfilling his life’s purpose. He lived a life of priority.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. –1 Corinthians 15:3-11 NIV
Paul reminds Corinthian believers, the message I gave you is most important. It is prior. This latest rendition of the truth you’ve been distracted by is not truth. Christ without the resurrection is powerless. His resurrection was real and in the flesh! Jesus, WORD OF GOD, in the flesh, came, lived, dead, buried in a tomb and now resurrected.
We too quickly read these words.
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Christ, the Son of God, died for my sins.
What other belief systems posits this idea?
It is unthinkable. God is God. Why would God be concerned for our outcome?
If God has a list, it is unthinkable that we are on the list. But we are. From the moment, we were hiding in the garden; God has been searching for us, seeking us out in our hiding places, as though we could hide from God. This missionary God, who came down to our home country, took up its culture and habits (but without sin). He learned our language to reach and relate to us. Then, in obedience, he took my sins to the cross.
He died. He was buried. He was abandoned to the grave and for the moment all was lost. There is so much here, but for another day.
He was raised. Resurrection means he came out of that grave, not just his Spirit. He was not the walking dead. He was alive: flesh and blood and spirit.
There is more.
There is something incredibly powerful about an eyewitness, someone who can point across a court room and say with authority, “There he is. He’s the guy.”
Peter saw him. Peter the rock, once a coward, had seen him. It was not some apparition of ghostly form. Jesus, in the flesh, came eating, cooking, teaching (again) and restoring the faithless. Everything about Peter changed. No longer die he cower in fear of the religious power brokers in Jerusalem—you decide for yourselves whether it I right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard! (Acts 4:19-20).
Peter was an eyewitness. He saw the resurrected Christ and everything about him changed. He had courage and faith. He had seen the risen Christ and he never wavered from this even in his eventual execution for his testimony!
Would this man, who on the night of betrayal denied knowing Christ, now die for a lie? Peter saw him alive.
There is more. The Twelve gathered in fear with doors locked and suddenly, Jesus appeared among them.
His body was changed. He was no longer subject to the physical rules of this world. A locked door did not stop him. But he was more than just Spirit. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39). See my hands. See my feet. Thomas, give me your finger. The twelve were eyewitnesses.
There is more. He appeared to more than 500 of his followers at one time. Eyewitnesses are hard to deny. Paul could not say these things without someone objecting. Paul was writing in the same era. Many of these believers who saw the risen Christ were still alive! Go ask them.
But that is not all. There is more. Paul continues. He appeared to me. He came to me as one who was born out of sequence. I was not at the cross. I did not learn from him in the temple, or the garden. I was not with Peter. I was not among the twelve or the 500. He came to me as one born out of order. He appeared to me even though I was fighting his Body—the church.
Do you still hesitate? Do you still hold back? Even after you hear the testimony of these witnesses? Has life hurt you so much that you cannot bring yourself to believe these eyewitnesses? There is a spark of hope within you that longs to believe. Fan into the flame the spark.
Paul knew he was what he was because of Christ working in him. God poured his favor in him and with result.
Oh, follower of Christ, He appeared to you! Perhaps, not in the flesh but he came to you. This Risen Christ is alive!
You too are an eyewitness. The Message—is it at work in you?
He died. He was buried. He is resurrected. This is the Message.
Believe. Do not waver any longer. Today, recommit your life to Christ fully, completely.
Christ, your priority!