To “prioritize” means to place things in the order of their importance to the individual. The Holy Bible offers to its readers two general, all-encompassing priorities, tells them how to follow through on their chosen priority, then reveals the end result of having done so. Within the Bible the student is introduced to two men who were having to choose between the two priorities. Though they both chose the same priority, their respective reactions to their face-to-face meeting with Jesus Christ were the exact opposite. A careful study of the two situations will show that each man asked the Messiah the same question relative to their common problem. Though having asked the same question to the same Person and having received the same answer, the two inquirers reacted in totally different ways to His answer. These two incidences show the Bible student the importance of choosing the right priority, accepting the Lord’s instructions relative to fulfilling it, them following those instructions.
In the 10th chapter of Mark’s gospel beginning with verse 17 we find Jesus being approached by a young rich man who asked Him a question that revealed his priority choice: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Before we examine the Lord’s answer, let us get the full picture of what took place during that conversation. First, wealth gets attention, opens doors and gains access not available to the average citizen. Being wealthy, and therefore socially important and powerful, this young man had no doubt been granted audiences with the priests in Jerusalem. Because wealth was “proof” of one’s high standing with God among the Jews, he had undoubtedly spoken with the High Priest of the Temple himself. They had no doubt discussed THE question that had settled into his mind and would not leave. This man who seemed to “have it all” had developed a priority that was dominating his life. Knowing in his heart that something was wrong, he sought out the One whom he had been told could fix the problem.
The wealthy, powerful, admired, feared, deferred to, socially exalted man had run into a wall that his money could not remove. He was under conviction. He knew there was a problem between himself and God, and that the problem would persist until it was solved. He had undoubtedly been told by the priesthood that his situation would gradually disappear if he would continue to visit the Temple, offer his annual sacrifice for the removal of his sins and leave large contributions in the coffers. Though he had undoubtedly follow their instructions, the spiritual burden he was carrying was getting heavier with no relief in sight.
Then he began hearing about an itinerant preacher, one Jesus of Nazareth Who, he had been told, could answer his question. Rumer had it that He was a holy Man, a miracle worker who went about healing the sick, casting out devils and feeding the hungry. The young man decided to find this Holy Man, hear the answer to his question, do what He told him to do. That would undoubtedly make the problem disappear. Help, he was assured, was somewhere in the general vicinity. Having crossed the Jordan River in search of Him, he had finally found the Man he was looking for. Upon seeing Him, the proud, rich man humbled himself, ran to Him, dropped to his knees and asked Him the ultimate question. Now he waited for THE answer which would surely come from on high. Surely this miracle worker, this man he had called “good Master” would utter words designed specifically for him. Instead, he heard what Israelites had been hearing since their meeting with God on Mt. Sinai: “Obey the Law.” Obviously disappointed, the supplicant replied that he had obeyed every one of the Ten Commandments all of his life. The “Good Master,” the “Holy Man” then told him what he did not want to hear–that one sin separated him from God and would condemn him to the Lake of Fire if he did not eliminate it. The man who had it all left with nothing because he did not hear what he wanted to hear. Unable to bear God’s Truth, he walked away. This reminds me of the time I was dealing with a pillar in the church, a “Bible scholar” who taught women of the church in her home. When I showed her the Words of the Lord relative to a particular subject, she replied while holding her head in her hands: “I just can’t wrap my mind around that.” She had spoken three words that condemned her: “I” and “my mind.” I and my mind have nothing to do with God’s Truth. Jesus said in John 17:17 that God’s Word is Truth. This is true whether Bible scholars believe it or not. If we will believe what we read in the Bible even though we do not understand it, God will eventually give us the understand. L.J.