Priority of Eternity by Rev. Shine.P. Thomas
What is your number one priority in life?
A man brought a brand new Ferrari car and parked it in on the main road in front of his office to show it off to his colleagues. As he was getting out of the car, a lorry comes speeding too close to the car and takes off the door before zooming off. The man gets very angry, takes out his mobile and calls the police.
The police arrives and immediately calles the ambulance. The man starts screeming, “My car, my ferrari. It is ruined. No matter how they repair, it will never be the same again.” The police said, “Hey man, you are so focused on your possessions that you don’t notice anything else in life.” The man shouts to the police, “How can you say such a thing at a time like this?” The police replies, “Didn’t you realize that your right arm was torn off when the truck hit you?” This man looks down in horror and says, “Oh! My God, my Rolex watch.”
What Our Priority Should be
What is your number one priority in life? On what measure do you prioritize things your life? I want to show you an example from Jesus’ ministry where he clearly showed us what our priority should be.
In Mark 1 Jesus was in the synagogue.
where he demonstrated his authority over the Word of God as he preached there. Then he demonstrated his authority over the spirit world as he cast out a demon in the synagogue. That afternoon Jesus headed to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house where he demonstrated his authority over every human sickness.
Jesus then left the little town of Capernaum telling his four early disciples that they needed to go to the other cities round about because they also need to have the Word, the good news preached to them. So Jesus and his disciples spent some time travelling around the villages and the lonely places preaching, and people came to him from everywhere.
As chapter 2 begins the Lord Jesus Christ makes his way back to the little town of Capernaum.
They enter the city and go into a large house. I guess it is the home of Simon and Andrew where Jesus had healed Simon’s mother-in-law of fever. The Bible says that there were also some scribes and Pharisees who where in the crowd. The service in this house has well begun. The worship leader led the people into a wonderful time of worship. Then probably the disciples greeted the huge gathering and finally Jesus starts to preach.
2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
Jesus gave importance to speaking of the Word of God. We are living in a time where churches give very little emphasis on the word. That is not the pattern set by Jesus. He took time to preach the word with authority wherever he went.
I think Jesus probably stood near a window and preached and taught them. People are sitting packed inside the house and there are others gathered outside the window. As all are keenly listening to the wonderful message of Jesus Christ, a beautiful story develops here.
Friends who knew their priority
There was in that city a small group of friends. One of them was sick with paralysis. Probably he could not speak because of his sickness and so he did not seem to be giving any real direction to things that were happening in his life. He was in such bad condition that his 4 friends were the ones who were taking the initiative for him.
These friends are now carrying him to Jesus. By the time they get him ready and carry him through the streets of Capernaum, the service had already begun. They are late for the meeting. My dear friend, you do not want to be in that group, isn’t it? I do not know if these friends were regularly coming late to the services but that day they were late. Thank God they did not decide to stay back home since they were late.
They finally reach the house and it is over packed. They think of an idea to carry him to the roof. It was a mammoth task, carrying an invalid onto the rooftop. As they reach the rooftop; they silently take off the tiles and slowly drop him down into the hall where Jesus is preaching. I do not think they should have taken all this unnecessary trouble had they come on time to service.
Jesus’ Priority to Eternity
I can almost see Jesus preaching to that great multitude, the scribes seated behind Jesus, and this man is let down through the roof. At some point Jesus saw this man, but listen, Jesus knew this man even before the roof was open because He is God. Now Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Eternal God. Even though he was preaching inside, he knew exactly what was happening outside. Even though this man was not speaking at all, Jesus knew this man. Jesus knows you as you are today.
When Jesus looked at this poor man who was being carried by his friends, his heart went out to him. Many times in the scripture we are told that Jesus looked at the people and he had compassion on them and though those are not the words which are used right here, I know that was true in the heart and mind of Jesus. As Jesus saw this poor man, he saw in him two big problems – He saw a man with very sad physical problem and those around could also see that this man was very sick but Jesus could see much more. Jesus also saw in him a man with tremendous spiritual problems. He knew that this man was a sinner. Jesus knew his sins.
We ought to recognize the fact that Jesus knew that he was a sinner because he was born of Adam. He was a sinner not because he sinned; rather he had sinned because he was a sinner by birth. My dear friend that is true of every one of us born into this world. We are all born into this world as sinners by nature.
The 2 kinds of problems, Physical and Eternal
So Jesus saw him with his 2 kinds of problems- His dreadful physical problems that all could see that had left him paralyzed but Jesus also saw even greater problem which doomed this man not for 40 or 50 or 60 years of life on earth but a greater problem which doomed him for all eternity, his sin problem. Jesus addressed the problems of eternity first.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus gave priority to eternity.
When Jesus saw their faith, surely it refers to his 4 of friends who have taken such great effort to bring this sick man to Jesus. I suppose this sick man also wanted to see Jesus. So when Jesus saw their faith Jesus said to him something that we would not expect from Jesus. Perhaps we would expect Jesus to say, son thy faith have made you whole, rise take up your bed and walk. But Jesus was looking at something far more significant than that. When Jesus saw their faith, the faith of the friends who brought this man and the man’s faith, Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” His sins were forgiven by Jesus.
I want to reflect on this man’s friends. We do not know how many synagogues the friends and family has taken this man to. We do not know the suffering the family had with this man. But I believe they kept persisting in bringing him to God’s presence and Jesus did the miracle.
Do Not Give Up in Showing others the Right Priority
I am speaking to some of you today who have family members and friends for whom you pray every day with heartbreak because they are unsaved. Then there are some of you who bring your friends and family to church, maybe you have to force them to come to church. I want to encourage you, keep bringing them to Jesus both in your prayers and to the church of God. This passage is an encouragement to us that someday as you bring them to Jesus, they will turn to Jesus and believe on Him.
So Jesus said to this man “Son thy sins be forgiven thee” and this man was wonderfully saved, set on the road to heaven.
That is not the end of this story. All the scribes sitting there were reasoning in their heart and staying very quiet. They were very angry for they thought that Jesus broke the law and was blaspheming.
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
That is a right question, only God can forgive sins, man cannot forgive sins. Your preacher, your priest, the father at the cathedral, the karmas you do cannot forgive your sins for you. Now if you sin or hurt someone, they might forgive you for sinning against them, but the matter of forgiveness of man’s sinful nature for eternity, washing away of sins, man cannot do that. Only God can do that and so that question is an accurate question. The problem is that they had already come to a conclusion which was wrong and sinful. They were quietly saying in their hearts “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming.” Jesus knew it.
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?
The moment that thought went through their minds Jesus knew it, because Jesus is God. Jesus knows our thoughts, both good and bad thoughts. He turned to them and said:
and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?
Now Jesus is speaking of priority there. He says to these scribes, “You tell me which is most important? Is it more important that I deal with this man who is a sinner and forgive his sins or is it more important to tell him to heal him and send him back to go back to his own lifestyle and continue sinning and some day sooner or later come to death door and leave this life with no hope for the whole eternity? Now, which is the greater priority?”
My dear friend if you are honest you have to admit that this life is short and eternity is long. The greater priority of the two is eternity. That is why Jesus taught we are not to lay up our treasures in this world. God gives us good things, blesses us, but that should not be the focus of our hearts. Worldly wealth and prosperity is not supposed to be the priority of our lives. We are rather to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness because there is an eternity coming which never ends. This life is less than a pinpoint compared to the timeline of eternity.
So Jesus poses that question which is more important. They did not answer that question, so Jesus said to them:
10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Jesus used a title there which is very significant, the Son of Man. That title for Jesus – Son of Man comes to us from the OT, Daniel 7 which speaks of the Messiah. These people knew the scripture. They were waiting for the Messiah – the Son of Man. So, when Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man he was saying clearly and plainly to them, that He was God. I am the Messiah that the OT teaches about and that you talk about all the time. I am He. Here among you. I am God and that is why I forgave his sins.
Now if you do not recognize me as your Messiah, God who can forgive sins; let me show to you my authority over the human need. I have the ability to forgive sins. I am God who also have authority over every human situation. Let me demonstrate that to you.” Jesus then turns to this poor sick man tells him, “Stand up, take up your bed and walk out.” Immediately he got up, he did not have to stretch. He did not wait for a few minutes while the blood flowed to his legs again. He went to the house immediately and they were all amazed and glorified God saying we never saw it in this fashion.
Jesus is the eternal God
Jesus is the only solution for all human problems. Why? Because Jesus is the eternal God. There is no other God than the God of the scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that there is salvation in none other. There is no way a man can get that eternity taken care of, there is no way that a man can go to heaven, except as this poor sick man did, by coming to Jesus and believing in Him.
Now as this chapter moves on, after the preaching Jesus walks out of that house and sees a man by the name of Levi, also known as Matthew. He was a tax collector, sitting in the seat of the tax collector’s booth. It is learnt that as passengers and cargo and ships arrive in Galilee in this little town of Capernaum there was a tax which they had to pay and he was there collecting those taxes and he was a sinner. I believe probably he was abusing his authority. Jesus saw him and said to him follow me. Levi left his seat of custom and followed Jesus.
Capernaum is a little town. He had heard the preaching of Jesus,knew that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man who had come and when Jesus looked at him and gave him the invitation to come, Matthew went with him. He was grateful to Jesus for forgiving his sins. Matthew gave a feast, a dinner in his home.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
Matthew reached out to his friends. This is a great example for us to reach out to our friends and relatives.
Get the picture here. Here is Jesus and he is now surrounded not by teachers of the OT, Jesus is among a crowd of sinners. He is surrounded by sinful people and he sits there with them at this dinner. There were many and they followed him the Bible says. Now listen, the people who knew the law, the teachers of the law did not recognize Jesus, but here are some sinners who recognized Jesus as God and are following him.
When the Pharisees and scribes saw that, they found a way to attack Jesus. They were critical of this dinner and questioned his disciples. I think by now they were targeting his disciples, because they were afraid of Jesus. He was pointing out their faults, he knew their thoughts. So they are asking the disciples: How does Jesus eat with sinners? Jesus heard that question:
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus is telling them, “I gave you an opportunity in the previous house to receive what I came here for, the forgiveness of sins, eternal life but you rejected me. You feel you are good, righteous, religious. So you do not need me. But look at these poor sinners, they are following me, they need me. You feel you are healthy, they feel they need me for their sins, so I am with them and they are my followers.”
My dear friend I am speaking to some today who like the scribes and Pharisees are saying, “I am not a sinner, I am not a bad person. I do good things. I help the poor, I go to church.” i have my priority right, Dear friend that grieves me, because until a man or woman realizes that he has a need he cannot be helped. Jesus did not come to help people who feel they are good. Jesus came for people who feel they need a helper.
Let me make some observations here
a. To The Believers
I am speaking to some of you who are believers today. You know the word of God, you pray, you are a believer for many years now. Maybe you have come to a point in your Christian life where you no longer depend on God. You are depending on your abilities. Sorry, God will not help you if you feel you can manage your affairs. Be very careful so that we do not develop the mentality of the Pharisees and the scribes. But if you can humble yourself and depend on God, he is willing to help you no matter what your situations are.
b. Who have Not Accepted Jesus as Savior Yet
Now, I want to speak to some of you who have not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as you God and savior. You feel you are a good moral person in the sense of the world definition. Even if you just do good works all day long, dear friend you are still short of the glory of God. There is no way that any of us measure up to the holiness of God. We all need Jesus and until you come to that point where you recognize your need and ask Jesus to cleanse your sin nature, you also will not receive help. You need to recognize everyone born is sinful in nature and only the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus can cleanse us and make us whole.
It’s Not too Late, God is waiting for you
I met a person who said to me, “Pastor there is no way that God could ever forgive me.” Dear friend Jesus said he did not come to call the righteous but he came to call sinners to repentance. You are the person that Jesus came for. It does not matter what your sin is. It is not too late to get your priority right. Some tell pastor you do not know how terrible my sin is, addicted to alcohol, tobacco or drugs. I do not need to know your sins, Jesus knows. I am here to tell you what Jesus said, “I came not for the righteous, I came for sinners.” Dear friend if you are sinner, you can have your sins forgiven just like that man who was paralyzed and brought to Jesus.” Jesus is waiting for you.
If in your hearts if you talk to him silently, you need not come forward, if you can just wherever you are seated trust on God to forgive your sins you will be saved today. Just speak it out in your heart. If you say that to Jesus he will say to you, “Son thy sins are forgiven.” I pray that you do this today.
Live with the priority of eternity
I want to speak to the others who are already in Christ today – What is your priority? Does the priority of your life lie on the earthly affairs or is your priority set on eternity? Do you do things keeping eternity in mind or do you do things keeping this world and its pleasures on mind? How do you use your resources – your family, job, finances etc? Do you have eternity in mind or do you have your temporary life in mind? Jesus is concerned about your life here but he is more bothered about your eternity. So let’s live our lives with the priority of eternity.