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March 13, 2015

The Best Use of Your Time

“Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know He was there, for He wanted to spend more time with His disciples and teach them….” Mark 9:30-31a

This passage records Jesus’ last tour through the region of Galilee. He would not return before His death. Knowing that His time was limited, it’s interesting to me where He put His focus. He was intentional and determined. He was purposeful in everything He did and said. Look at the verse again. Mark tells us that, when Jesus made this final tour, “(He) didn’t want anyone to know He was there…” (Verse 30) Why? Wouldn’t you think that He would? Didn’t He come for a lost world to proclaim the way to God? How would they know if He withdrew?  Because Jesus knew the cross was before Him and that His days were numbered with His disciples, He wanted to invest Himself in the ones closest to Him. I love the way Mark put it; “…He wanted to spend more time with His disciples and teach them…”  (verse 31).

If you knew that your days were numbered, wouldn’t you want to do the same?  Unlike Jesus, we don’t know when our final day will come, but we do know that it will come. Given that reality, shouldn’t we be more focused on the ones closest to us? There’s simply no substitute for time with those we love. We like to use the excuse that we will make up for quantity time with quality time.

Where do you spend most of your time? You might say at work or school. The demands of life and responsibilities of day-to-day activities make it difficult for us to find balance. You may have to make a radical adjustment in your schedule to make the time you need, both quality and quantity, with those you love the most.  How did Jesus do it? He radically changed the direction of His ministry. We are limited to time and space; this means we must choose what we do with our time and with whom we spend it with. Jesus intentionally changed course because He wanted to spend more time with His disciples. If you knew your time was limited, who would you want to spend more time with?  Here’s the point. Do it now. Be deliberate and set aside time on your schedule for the ones you love the most.

The other point that strikes me is how purposeful He was in the time He spent with them. He used the time He had to teach them. Jesus spoke plainly and directly to His disciples about His death and resurrection. He began to prepare them for what was going to happen to Him by telling them three times that He would soon die. (8:31; 9:31; 10:33,34).

Still, their preconceived ideas of a Messiah prevented them from understanding completely until after it would happen. It was difficult for the disciples to grasp the idea that their Messiah would have to suffer. The Jews who studied the Old Testament prophecies expected the Messiah to be a great king like David, who would overthrow the enemy, Rome. Their vision was limited to their own time and experience. They did not understand that the values of God’s eternal Kingdom were different from the values of the world. They wanted relief from their present problems, but deliverance from sin is far more important than deliverance from physical suffering or political oppression.

Looking back on it, after the resurrection and Pentecost, the disciples must have all considered what Jesus taught them from a whole new perspective. “Now we get it! Duh! What were we thinking back then? How could we have been so blind?” How many times have you felt that way after you spent time with Jesus and began to understand what He was saying to you?

The amazing thing to me is that God desires to spend time with us! If anyone could pull the “I’m really too busy today” card, it would be the God of the universe and, yet, He remains available to each one of us. In the early days of my faith and ministry, I used to struggle with finding time to be alone with God and His Word. It honestly felt more like an obligation. Now, I view it as an opportunity! Not a duty I have to perform, but a delight I get to enjoy! When you invest time alone with God, you will learn truths from His Word you would not otherwise know about Him: His character and purpose.  The same is true for those closest to you. As you spend more time with them, you benefit in getting to really know them.

Jesus invested time in His disciples to teach them because He knew that when He left that they would carry on His message. Talk about leaving a legacy of faith. If you’re a parent, the Bible says, “Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Psalms 127:4 (NLT) That’s a beautiful word picture of how you have the opportunity to point them in the right direction and, then, let them go. For the most part, they will go in the direction you are pointing. That’s why it’s so important to make that investment of the time you have count for eternity. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV) Because values like that are more caught than taught, there is simply no substitute for spending time together with the ones you love.

Personal Challenge:

  1. If you knew your days were numbered, with whom would you want to spend your time? What adjustments do you need to make to set aside time with the ones you love so they will know how much you value them?
  2. What do you want the ones you love to know? How can you best share your faith with them in ways they can understand?