WEEK 2: People take priority
“John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick…”
“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:12-14, 16, 22-23, NIV)
When Jesus had just heard about the death of His friend, John the Baptist, He decided to isolate himself as He mourned and processed His friend’s passing. But as He got to the place where He was hoping to be alone, there was a large crowd waiting for Him. He could so easily have told the crowd that He was not going to heal and teach that day, because His friend had just passed away and He wanted to be alone for a while. It would have been a legitimate excuse, and nobody would have thought less of Him, because He could heal and teach the next day. But instead, we see that He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Later, His disciples wanted to dismiss the people, because there was no food where they were. Again, this would have been a legitimate excuse to dismiss the crowd, so Jesus could finally do what He had set out to do in the first place. But instead, He rather decided to provide food for them in a miraculous way. Then, when everyone had finished eating, He didn’t tell His disciples to send off the people while He went to pray; rather, He sent His disciples off while He personally dismissed the people. He then ended His day by doing what He had set out to do in the first place, by going up the mountain to pray.
All through the Gospels, we see that for Jesus, people took first priority. And so we need to look at ourselves and ask whether people take first priority in our lives as well. Our daily schedules are filled to the brim and our calendars are planned months ahead. With daily lives already so full, where do the people that the Lord sends across our daily paths fit in? People who are hurting and are in desperate need of the Saviour’s love and care. Are we willing to postpone the task at hand, or maybe reschedule a meeting to make time for the people who are Jesus’ first priority and who should thus be our first priority as well?