As we have seen, the Lord Jesus had a goal and He gave Himself to it. It is obvious that at each instant there were many things that He could do. There were :
- very bad things,
- bad things,
- neutral things,
- good things,
- very good things and
- best things
all opened to Him. It is needless to say that the very bad things, the bad and the neutral things were all forbidden to Him by His very nature. But what of the good, better or best things? What was He to do? What did He do? If there was a choice between ministering to an individual and ministering to a crowd, what did He do? If there was a choice between healing the sick in one place and moving to another place to preach there also, what did He do? How was He guided?
Jesus was not guided by a desire to impress multitudes. He was not guided by a desire to reach billions. He was not moved by a desire to perform the most spectacular miracles. He was guided by the Father's will, and the Father's will imposed certain priorities on Him.
The priorities of the Lord Jesus were the "musts" of His life. He gave Himself to the "musts" of His life. When faced with many things, He chose to do that which, according to the Father, was a must for Him at that moment. He said the following were "musts" for Him.
"And he said to them, 'How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?' " (Luke 2:49).
"And when it was day, he departed and went into a lonely place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them but he said to them, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose' " (Luke 4:42-43).
"The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Luke 9:22).
"Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem" (Luke 13:32-33).
"Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today" (Luke 19:5).
"And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold, I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16).
Each of these "musts" were indispensable for the accomplishment of His overall purpose.
By a daily commitment to the "musts" of His life, Jesus accomplished His goal. He refused to do good, better or the best things. He did the things that were "musts". The "musts" varied, but they were each indispensable for the goal to be accomplished God's way and in God's time.
THE PRIORITY OF PRIORITIES OF THE LORD JESUS
Not all priorities are the same. There is the priority of priorities. At the tender age of twelve, the Lord Jesus had understood this and expected His parents to understand that His number one task was to be in His Father's house. He was saying that the priority of priorities for Him was to be alone with His Father. He did not only say it. He lived it out. The Bible says: "And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to Him, 'Everyone is searching for you.' And he said to them, 'Let us go to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.' And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons" (Mark 1:35-39).
The priority of priorities of the Lord Jesus was to have a daily dynamic encounter with His Father every morning
TIME FOR THE PRIORITY OF PRIORITIES
The Bible says that Jesus rose up in the morning. We state then that the morning is the time for the priority of priorities. We also read that although it was in the morning, He actually rose a great while before day. He woke up at a time which permitted Him to have plenty of time with His Father before it was day. Why did the Lord Jesus choose the morning as the time for meeting God? The following are some of the reasons:
He decided that He would not see the face of man before He had seen the face of God. He loved His Father supremely. He loved human beings as a manifestation of His love for His Father. He decided that He had to see the face of the One He loved the most before He would see the faces of the people whom He loved as a manifestation of His love for Him.
He decided that He had to talk to God about men before He talked to men about God. He was well aware of the fact that only God could move men to act God's way. Therefore, He chose to let God act on behalf of man before He would tell man to respond to the acts of God. There is so much talking to man about God and too little talking to God about man these days. Is this not the reason why there is so much failure in our day? The cart is being put before the horse and that is why there is no corresponding action to God's glory.
He knew that the early morning hours were the best. His mind was not crowded. His thoughts were fresh and His energy was unused. He could then approach God with all His heart and with all his soul and with all His body. He knew that He grew tired with the activities of the day and that His strength of concentration and the strength of action diminished as the day wore off. Since His encounter with God was of primary importance, He gave the earliest hours to it.
He knew that the encounter with God was the most important event of His day. He, therefore, gave the best time to the most important event.
He met God in order to receive instructions, guidance and direction for the day. If the instructions He received were to be applied, they had to be received before the time of application. If He did not meet God before the day, He would go into the day with His own ideas and not God's. If He met God in the afternoon or evening, He would have spent a part of the day messing things up. What would have been the use of coming in the evening to receive instructions that ought to have helped Him to walk and to work, during the day, after the heart of God? If a person wants to go to the west and He starts off in the morning and does not check his bearing, but spends the whole day pushing to the east with full force, and at the end of the day, he gets out his map and compass to see how far he has gone, that would be foolish. He ought to have sorted things out in the morning, and by evening he would have found out that he had made progress in the right direction. Knowing this, the Lord Jesus made it a must to meet His Father a great while before day.
He needed power from His Father to accomplish each day's work. He had to receive the power before He went to work. If He went to work without the power of God, He would have gone out to obvious failure.
We see clearly that the most important encounter between Jesus and His Father was in the morning. There were other encounters in the day but the morning encounter was the most important.
The Psalmist also made the morning a time for meeting God daily. The Bible says: "O Lord, in the morning thou dost hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for thee, and watch" (Psalm 5:3).
"But I will sing of thy might, I will sing aloud of thy steadfast love in the morning" (Psalm 59:16).
"But I, O Lord, cry to thee, in the morning my prayer comes before thee" (Psalm 88:13).
From the example of our Lord, we say that each believer should meet God everyday. He should meet God every morning, a great while before day. My personal recommendation is that all disciples should wake up and be ready to meet God at 4.00 in the morning. They should spend the time from 4.00 to 6.00 seeking God and communing with Him. There is no substitute for this.
A PLACE FOR THE PRIORITY OF PRIORITIES
We are told that the Lord Jesus went out to a lonely place and there He prayed. His place for the priority of priorities was a lonely place. Why did He choose a lonely place? The following are the reasons:
He wanted to separate Himself from man so as to be separated unto God. He was constantly in demand by man. Even when He was tired and resting, there were always needs that made people turn to Him. Had He not sought a lonely place, it would have been impossible for Him to have the time that He needed with His Father without human interruption. As can be seen, even though He withdrew to a lonely place a great while before day, they still sought Him and went to Him. He was, however, able to have His intercourse with His Father because He woke up a great while before day, and because He went to a lonely place where it took time for those who wanted Him to find Him. So He sought a lonely place to avoid being disturbed by those seeking Him.
He wanted a lonely place so as not to be disturbed by noise and other distractions. He wanted to concentrate on His Father and, to do so, He put away all distractions by going to a lonely place.
He wanted a lonely place so as to give Himself without reservation to His Father. Lovers always want to be alone. They always want to separate themselves from all the others and to concentrate on the one they love. Jesus, therefore, wanted a place where He could give Himself to His Father in an uninhibited way.
He sought a lonely place because He did not want to be like the hypocrites who drew the attention of men to their praying. He wanted His Father alone to know the intensity of His longing after Him.
He sought a lonely place because He did not want to disturb others with His communion with God. His communion with God involved cries and tears. How could He utter loud cries with tears to God where others were doing other things that did not permit noise? He, therefore, sought a lonely place.